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January 13, 1980 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1980-01-13

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Resistance in Saudi Arabia
triggers deep concern

! ! i


THE MILWAUKEE JOURNAL 12-18-79 Dist. Field Newspaper Syndicate.1980

One year after the fall of the Shah of
Iran, there is intense, if stifled, alarm in
Western capitals about an even more impor-
tant pro-Western Middle Eastern monarchy,
Saudi Arabia.
With oil output of 9.5 million barrels a day,
and oil reserves estimated at a quarter of all
those in the rest of the world, Saudi Arabia
holds the key to the West's energy survival in
the 1980s.
BUT FOLLOWING a decade of political
calm inside the country, puntucated only by
the assassination of King Faisal in March,
1975, popular resistance to the Saudi regime
has reemerged.
Two incidents have signalled the new crisis
inside Saudi Arabia. The first came on Nov. 20
when 250 to 500 armed men seized the Grand
Mosque in the holy city of Mecca and held it
for two weeks. The second came on Dec. 5,
with riots on the other side of the country, in
the eastern province of Seihat and Qatif, in
which at least five people were killed.
Both incidents are extremely important,
though for rather different reasons. The Mec-
ca incident was a demonstrative symbolic
blow timed to coincide with the first day of the
new Moslem Century, the 15th, and it
highlighted the weakness of the Saudi
security forces. The organizers knew that
none of the U.S. advisors now in Saudi Arabia
could hope to control them because no non-
Muslims are allowed into Mecca.
IT IS NOT KNOWN exactly who organized
the seizure but it is evident that' the rebels
were well prepared and came from the heart
of Saudi society. Many of the fighters were
from the Oteiba tribe, a traditional recruiting
ground for the Saudi National Guard and
most of the U.S.-made weapons used were
stolen from National Guard armories.
The men who took the mosque were able in
a matter of minutes to close and guard all 48
gates of the compound, to bring in enough
ammunition and food to hold out for a for-
tnight, and to construct an elaborate system
of booby traps that hindered government
recapture of the building. These were no
crazed fanatics, and their success in taking
the mosque and the length of time it took to
remove them seriously damaged the regime's
image of self-confident internal stability.
The Eastern riots were important because
they took place in the major oil producing
area of the country, where 100,000 resident
Shi'ia Moslems have strong sympathy for
Khomeini and the Iranian Revolution. The
demonstrations coincided with the days of
religious Shi'ia mourning, and the taking of
U.S. hostages in Teheran. Two of the people
killed were reported > be employees of the
U.S. Aramco consortium.

By Fred Halliday
IN 1970, THE TOWN of Al Qatif was sealed
off for over a month by government troops af-
ter opposition to the Saudi regime broke out
there. Two years ago, around 50 people were
arrested for opposition activity in the eastern
province. They are believed to have met their
deaths by being thrown from helicopters over
Saudi Arabia's barren, empty quarter.
Future resistance in the East could seriously
interrupt the flow of Saudi oil exports.
Tight censorship makes it extremely dif-
ficult to establish the scale of the organized
opposition inside Saudi Arabia. There is a pro-
Moscow Communist Party, established in
1976, but with no visible following inside the
country. More substantial is the Arabian
Peninsula's People's Union, set up by Nasser
in the early 1960s, which carried out sporadic
guerrilla war attacking U.S.-owned and Saudi
government buildings before Egypt patched
up its difficulties with the Saudis in 1967. The
AAPU, now based in Beirut, later received
sOme Libyan support and has claimed
responsibility for the Mecca seizure.
A radical breakaway from the APPU, the
Popular Democratic Union, is believed to
have links with left-wing sections of the
Palestinian guerrillas. There is also substan-
tial sympathy for the Iraqui Baath party in
the western part of Saudi Arabia south of
Mecca., However, given the close links that
now exist between Iraq and Saudi
Arabia-they recently signed a treaty on in-
ternal security cooperation-it is unlikely
that the Baathists played a role in the Mecca
SAUDI ARABIA IS a very different country
from Iran and, in particular, lacks the big ur-
ban concentrations of recently migrated
peasants who gave Khomeini his victory.
There are about four million native Saudis,
but half of the people are either too old or too
young to be in the labor force; half are women
excluded from public life, and approximately:
only one in eight can read and write Arabic.
As a result, the Saudi regime imports about
one million immigrant workers who make up
about half the labor force. But foreigners are
forbidden from owning small businesses, and
contract laborers can be controlled and ex-
pelled in a way the Iranian poor of Teheran
Saudi Arabia also differs from Iran in that
its Sunni brand of Islam does not allow
religious leaders to play the kind of political
role which the mullahs in Iran have adopted.
BUT THERE IS a similarity in the way in

which a development program based on
has produced new social groups and has
generated social tensions that undermine the
legitimacy and power of the ruling family.
Radical theology students resent the regime's
pro-Western orientation. As in Iran, a newly
educated middle class, much of it trained
abroad, has been created. Discontent among
these people at the corruption and stifling
political atmosphere is known to have grown.
The largest center of educated personnel '
in the armed forces and especially in the m
educated section of all, the air force. Air For-
ce officers attempted a coup in 1969 and un-
conformed reports indicate that there was
another attempt this summer by the air for-
ce's northern regional command operating
,out of the Sharja base 17 miles north of
Riyadh, the Saudi capital.
There is also believed to be discussion
within the ruling family over the political
direction of the whole regime. Saudi oil
production generates about $1 billion a we
but the society can only absorb about half t
amount even at a headlong pace of growth
that risks major social dislocations.
In order to keep internal threats at a
minimum, the Saudis divide their troops bet-
ween the regular army and the tribally-based
National Guard. They have brought in several
thousand U.S. personnel to build up their
militaryoperations. But the level of technical
expertise in these forces is very low. AWOL
rates are very high (only 17 of the 40 National
Guard units are functional) and the introd .
tion of large numbers of U.S. personnel
stocked nationalist resentment.
The Saudi authorities have reacted with
suppressed panic to these recent events. For
reasons that are not absolutely clear, Saudi
foreign currency reserves have fallen from
$31 billion to $17 billion in a matter of weeks.
And there has been a rush to buy gold that has
helped to weaken the U.S. dollar. The number
of students allowed to travel abroad has been
cut, and plans for a big new university at
Riyadh have been shelved. The 1980"
development plan is also being cut back, a
some show will be made by the Saudi regime
to fight corruption.
But these are all palliatives, unlikely to
quell the unrest that is smoldering inside the
kingdom. The educated commoners resent
the dictatorship of the Saudi family; the
radical Muslims resent the close alliance with
the U.S. Recent events have shown not only
the unrest lying beneath the surface of Saudi
affairs, but also how weak and vulnerable the
Saudi regime-America's closest ally in t
Middle East--really is.
Fred Halliday wrote this piece for the
Pacific News Service.

lbr Atdtgan4, 1ailg

Ninety Years of Editorial Freedom


Vol. XC, No. 84

News Phone: 764-0552

Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan


The Rose Garden strategy

maneuver to skip out of his sched-
uled debate in Iowa with his
Democratic rivals provoked bitter
responses from the camps of Sen. Ed-
ward Kennedy and Gov. Jerry Brown.
Both of the president's opponents ac-
cused him of exploiting the Iranian and
Afghanistan crises so he could evade
the anticipated sharp back-stabbing
that occupies the agenda of most
presidential debates.
In effect, the president's withdrawal
was both a political and presidential
move, highly understandable under
the current atmosphere of urgency in
Washington. The two foreign crises
require Carter's constant attention,
and a domestic, olitical debate in
faraway Iowa could divert too much
time from that more crucial item on
the president's agenda. In addition,
any sign of disunity regarding the
president's handling of Iran and
Afghanistan could thrust open the door
to either further intervention by the
Soviets, or even harder line stances by
the Khomeini regime.
Many of the government's initiatives
in the 70-day-old crisis have failed, but
the efforts have not been given up. To
risk their future success by opening the
issue in the political forum would be
most unfortunate at this delicate time.
As president, Carter has placed the
nation's interests above the political
opportunities in Iowa. He has aban-

doned campaigning-at least in this
first test-to spend most of his time in
the White House trying to bring home
the 50 hostages and responding to the
Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
As candidate for another term,
there's no doubt the president sees the
advantages in avoiding a direct con-
frontation with his challengers. A for-
midable performance by either Ken-
nedy or Brown could place Carter's
fortunes innext week's Iowa caucuses
in deep trouble. By staying away and
acting presidential, he risks very little
and even gains prestige, and points in
the polls by showing voters his fir-
mness toward the Russians and the
fanatics in Iran.
This is ca~led the "Rose Garden
Strategy." The president stays home
while everybody else is out cam-
paigning. For the time being, Carter
cannot be criticized for exploiting it.
But he must remember that he is also a
candidate for the presidency, and
should therefore be subjected to
criticism and scrutinized the same
way as.his opponents. That is, after all,
the basis of our electoral process.
By agreeing to an interview with a
television network the day before the
Jan. 21 caucuses, the president seems
determined to still do a bit of cam-
paigning. Let's hope he comes out to
the public and stands prepared to
defend his record of the past three

Plant closings: How can


the community survive?'

"Out of your sweat, out of your
muscle," boomed United
Steelworkers representative
Marvin Weinstock in
Youngstown, Ohio last week,
"they tool millions and millions,
hundreds of millions and put it in
hotels, Disney World,
everywhere except in
They did. U.S. Steel's chairman
of the board David Roderick an-
nounced this September that he
would shut down "unprofitable
facilities," and put funding for
expansion and acquisitions into
non-steel enterprises.
Steelmaking accounts for'73 per
centof the company's sales, but
only 14 per cent of its operating
THIS MONTH, U. S. Steel per-
manently shut down 16 plants
from Ambridge Pa., to Pit-
tsburgh, California, laying off
13,000 workers or 8 per cent of its
work force. It was the largest
mass firing in the steel industry
since the Depression.
In devastated Youngstown, the
company terminated 3,500
workers, while Jones and
Laughlin Steel added 1,400 more
with its own mill closure. These
came on top of 5,000 layoffs in
1977 when Youngstown Sheet and
Tube closed the Campbell works.
The accelerating pace of cut-
backs in the steel and auto in-
dustries in recent weeks has at
least put the question before a
national, rather than merely
local, audience: should the U.S.
let companies move at will, or
should it try to keep them in
communities dependent on in-
dustrial employment for their
very existence?
question is no academic exercise.
Youngstown has gone from a
national capital of steel produc-
tion to a city with no basic steel
mill in just three years. And as
countries like Mexico, Brazil and

By Thomas Brom

up for impassioned debate on
"saving the communities" at the
taxpayers expense. But virtually
all-of the current bills or union
recommendations focus on
cushioning the blow of the cor-
porate axe-not intervening at
the point where decisions are
Most runaway shop proposals
now before Congress focus on
bail-out, buy-out, or phase-out of
the company-a set of alter-
natives that leaves the basic con-
trol of how and where a company
spends its money with the cor-
porate board of directors. As a
group, the proposals do more to
obscure than clarify the larger
economic forces at play and the
long-term issue of who should
make critical investment
The bailout solution is in-
variably the first response of
local elected officials. Rep.
Charles Vanik of Ohio supports
creation of a federal loan and
guaranty program, similar to the
Depression-era Reconstruction
Finance 'Corporation. Other
Congressmen back tax incentives
for business, accelerated
depreciation for new spending on
plant and equipment in the U.S.,
or delays on installation of health
and safety equipment.
plant closing, buy-out, has come
spontaneously from the rank-
and-file workers who anticipate
the effects of massive job losses
in their communities. The
Ecumenical Coalition in
Youngstown is the best example,
a union of church, labor and
neighborhood groups formed in
1977 that believed it could re-open
the Youngstown Sheet and Tube
after it was sold and closed.

exist in the U.S., but often at the
expense of workers who are
desperate to keep their jobs.
Republic Hose Manufacturing in
Youngstown, for instance, stayed
open under worker control last
year-but at the cost of lower
wages, substitution of profit-
sharing for a pension plan, no
vacations for the first year of
operation, apd cuts in paid
holidays and unemployment
The third common response to
plant closings, phase-out, is an
attempt by workers to soften the
blow by demanding advance
notice, phased lay-offs, severan-
ce pay, and job retraining: The
strategy is designed to work in
tandem with a global trade union
organizing drive that would
hopefully equalize production
and living standards worldwide
and make corporate runaways to
the Third World less attractive.
The Steelworkers Union is now
backing the National Em-
ployment Priorities Act, first in-
troduced by Congressman
William Ford of Michigan in 1974.
The bill includes provisions for
notice, severance pay for both
workers and the community, and
formation of an agency within the
Labor Department that would
determine the "ecomonic
justification" of disputed
closings. Similar bills are now
being considered in Michigan,
Ohio, Massachusetts, Rhode
Island, Maine, and Pennsylvania.
IT'S THE beginning of a
rational approach to the restruc-
turing of industry in America,"
said John Sheehan, chief lobbyist
of the steelworkers. But business
associations from Connecticut to
Ohio condemn such "industrial
hostage laws" and none of them
is likely to pass soon.

policy statement last month op-
posing the Carter Ad-
ministration's $1.5 billion loan
guarantee package for
Chrysler-so angering the auto
maker that it quit the association.
Those who oppose the free flow.
of capital argument usually e
brace some form of "capital
allocation". It means that gover-
nment will direct, or "suggest"
with sanctions, that certain en-
terprises invest in a manner that
serves the national interest. The
strategy may also include
nationalization of some in-
dustries, such as oil, coal and
steel, if private enterprise finds
more attractive investment
Proponents of this strategy i
the U.S. range from unionists
like Machinist union president
° William Winpisinger, to Califor-
nia Governor Jerry Brown, and
Lazard Freres investment
banker Felix Rohatyn who talk of
the "reindustrialization of
propose substituting massive
public investment programs for
personal tax cuts to stimulate the
sagging U.S. economy.
These two broader
strategies-free flow of capital
vs. reindustrialization-have
profound implications for the
structure of the U.S. economy in
the decades ahead. The first im-
plies a truly global economy, with
the U.S. assuming a post-
industrial role as banker, ado
ministrator, trader and owner.
The second is much more
nationalist in character, preser-
ving basic industries for reasons
of national pride as well as
national security.
While private capital retains
most of its prerogatives in either
case, the short-term choices the
strategies represent are real and
distinguishahle. America in the


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