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September 04, 1987 - Image 44

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-09-04

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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Mecca

Continued from preceding Page

and subversion, according to
Israeli analysts, is the propaga-
tion of the Islamic revolution.
The short-term strategic ob-
j ectives, however, are more
often connected with further-
ing Iran's interests in its war
against Iraq and with the wider
war that Iran is fighting
against the infidel West.
Given these criteria, the deci-
sion to instigate the riots in
Mecca — a demonstration of
fundamentalist Shiite zeal at
the holiest Islamic shrine
against a regime which is close-
ly aligned with its arch-enemy,
Iraq, and with the "Great
Satan" itself — must have
seemed in Thheran to have been
divinely inspired.
The message may indeed
have struck a chord in Saudi
Arabia, which is vulnerable to
threats, both internal and ex-
ternal. "The way the Saudis
handled the riot suggests that
they are very jittery, very ner-
vous," says Dr. Yossi Olmert, a
Middle East specialist at 'Ibl
Aviv University. "I wouldn't
say that the House of Saud is
in danger of imminent col-
lapse," he said in an inteview,
"but it is inherently unstable
and the Iranians cerainly
challenged the ability of the
Saudis to cope with a sudden
crisis."
The Saudi army and the
security police are both
relatively weak, and there are
fears that a sustained cam-
paign of terror might reveal
serious internal stresses.
The Saudi government must
also keep a close and nervous
eye on its Shi'ite community,
which constitutes some six per
cent of the population and
which is largely concentrated in
the Hasa province, the heart of
the key oil-producing region of
Saudi Arabia.
The Saudis are vulnerable in
other areas, too. With the fall in
oil prices, their awesome
economic power is dwindling
and with it their ability to "buy
protection" from radical
regimes and groups throughout
the Middle East. "The Saudis
are still very rich," says Dr.
Olmert, "And like the very rich
everywhere, they feel vulner-
able to blackmail and extor-
tion."
All this is exacerbated by the
fact that Saudi Arabia is in the
midst of a dangerous transi-
tional phase moving rapidly
from a simple, nomadic desert
kingdom into a modem techno-
logical society without bestow-
ing any political benefits on its
people.
The abundant wealth of the
regime has thus far been suffi-
cient to drown out voices of dis-
sent and win the loyalty and ac-
quiesensce of the Saudi people.
But the spread of wealth,
education and sophistication —
without a corresponding spread
of political rights — is creating
dangerous tensions within
Saudi society.
This month's riots in Mecca

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