by Phil Hall
King Faisal is considered by Saudis – and by many others – to have been the greatest Saudi of the 20th century and a hero of the developing world. He paid for his heroism dearly with his life. The whole Arab world believes the USA had King Faisal assassinated for his temerity. He was assassinated by his nephew, rumoured to have been sent from the USA to kill him.
But what did Faisal do to deserve assassination by the CIA? He ‘tricked’ the USA out of Saudi Arabia’s oil wealth, which the USA had owned until then.
Faisal was also a great advocate for the Palestinian people and took strong and forceful steps to encourage the USA to stop supporting Israel against the Palestinians. He was outraged by the Nakba, expressing his outrage in a famous speech. He supported the PLO led by Yasser Arafat as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, with reservations.
The reason for the oil embargo in 1973 was twofold. It was to punish the USA for its support for Israel, and recoup the money the Saudi government had spent on purchasing shares in Aramco. It was a double punch.
‘In 1973, following US support for Israel during the Yom Kippur War, the Saudi Arabian government acquired a 25% “participation interest” in Aramco’s assets. It increased its participation interest to 60% in 1974 and acquired the remaining 40% interest in 1976.’ Wikipedia
Faisal succeeded in recouping the loss from the initial high price the USA charged for the 25% easily because the price of oil multiplied. But he did not succeed in forcing the USA to back off from its support for Israel.
The theory goes that US government agencies, unafraid and ruthless enough to use Oswald in a twisted plot to help assassinate their own president, like the mafiosi they were, did not hesitate to take out King Faisel. He must be seen to suffer the consequences of his actions. The US metropolis of global capitalism was sending out a warning message to all the monarchs and presidents of the Gulf, of the Middle East.
King Faisal paid! It is thought that US intelligence services wound up Faisal’s nephew, another Oswald, and sent him marching off like a Manchurian Candidate to kill his uncle.
One must understand that Adnan Kashoggi was a CIA asset. Jamal Kashoggi, his relative, was as well. Jamal Kashoggi chose to act on behalf of the USA, as a critic of Mohammed Bin Salman. He was a legal, permanent resident of the USA. When Kashoggi was horribly killed, it was a message sent to the USA by the Saudi ruling class, especially after the disrespectful comments made in Washington about Mohammed bin Salman. The murder was a riposte to the USA’s attempts to undermine Mohammed bin Salman and have him replaced.
The reason why the USA wanted MBS replaced was simply to forestall further attacks by MBS on corruption. Corruption is the central method by which US entangled corporate and state interests lubricate their influence in Saudi Arabia and all over the globe. The Saudi corrupt are useful to their US corruptors. Without corruption, the US and its corporations lose leverage.
Interestingly, it was King Faisal’s own son, Turki Al Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the former head of Saudi intelligence, who attacked the US government for its hypocrisy in singling out Mohammed bin Salman and pointing the finger at him for the Kashoggi assassination. Obviously, the account between the US and the Saudi ruling elite has still not been settled. It is a family matter. Kashoggi was a rook, not a king. He was a comprador and a turncoat.
It needs to be said that Faisal was neither a secular reformer (though he advocated strongly for women’s rights to education) nor a socialist, nor a Pan-Arabist. Faisal was a traditional Bedouin king who arrived at his situation through rivalry with his less effectual brother. Faisal was the victor in that rivalry because he won the support of his family, while his brother was exiled.
But Faisal was not a Pan-Islamist, either. The Wahabi projection of power is simply one element of the Saudi state’s projection of power. In the same way, the massive amounts of aid that Saudi Arabia gives to people in poorer Muslim countries like Somalia, though it is strongly coloured by religion, is aligned with Saudi foreign policy.
In contrast, The Muslim Brotherhood is a reactionary movement inspired originally by Islam, but also by many of the ideas of fascism. It was founded in 1928 by Hasan Al Banna and five other Egyptians. They borrowed many tropes from fascist ideology about Jews and their desire for global domination; from European countries like Germany and Italy. The Muslim Brotherhood is not merely a use of religion that limits itself to nation building and installing Shariah law. The Islam of the Muslim Brotherhood is a blend of Islam and fascism. It is an Egyptian movement and, with its roots in the lumpenproletariat and in the disgruntled lower middle class.
This repellent re-bottling of Islam as a fascistic/trans nationalistic force is, of course, in its DNA, antisemitic, and you will find, when you talk to them, that many of the Muslim Brothers deeply admire Hitler and are in sympathy with his ideas about exterminating the Jews.
Hamas’s brand of Islam for political purposes, the purpose it has been put to by the Palestinians, is not the same as the purposes Islam has been put to by the more fascist leaning Egyptians, with their Pharaonic dreams of Egyptian glory. It is a response to oppression. Supporting Hamas doesn’t literally mean supporting fascism, though some of its ideas are fascistic. The Israelis blur the distinction between the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas for obvious reasons. The Muslim Brotherhood origins of Hamas license the Zionist zealots, full of chutzpah, to claim victimhood for the Israeli occupiers of Gaza.
The Saudi regime has used many Muslim Egyptians to help it develop. In particular, in the field of education. Some of these Egyptians were Muslim Brothers who hoped to find an answering echo in the fundamentalism of the Wahabis to their own ambitious Pan-Islamist aspirations. But, although these Muslim Brothers had an influence in Saudi Arabia, they were deceived. The Saudi state was merely using them.
Unfortunately, many of the Egyptian teachers stoked the fires of Islamist extremism among impressionable young people in Saudi Schools. 9/11 was partly a result of this. It was an Egyptian extremist who led Saudi extremists in an attack on the Twin Towers.
Egyptian Islamists formed a strange alliance with the more disgruntled traditional Wahabi. This meant that they began to undermine the national project of creating a strong Saudi state. The Muslim Brotherhood are regarded as dangerous troublemakers, whose Islam has nothing to do with the traditional Islam of the Saudi state, an Islam which is in place and meant to reinforce Saudi Arabia’s political structures.
If the Saudis support Hamas, they are supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and therefore supporting a strongly destabilising element. The Muslim Brothers have been banned in many Gulf countries now. They were banned in Saudi Arabia in 2014, three years after the Arab Spring and after the toppling of Morsi in Egypt in 2013. The Saudis quickly congratulated Morsi’s successor, Adly Mansour.
The aim of the Muslim Brotherhood is to overthrow the Saudi monarchy and turn Saudi Arabia into an Islamic state. In this context, it is very difficult for any of the Gulf countries to support Hamas, though they may support a ceasefire and the immediate provision of aid to the Palestinian people. They will not support Hamas, though they profess support for the Palestinian people. To support Hamas would be a ridiculous act of self-harm.
When Faisal was arguing for support for the Palestinian people, he was arguing for support for the secular movement of Fattah, the liberation movement of Palestine that the USA and Israel sabotaged by supporting Hamas. The USA and Israel have done all they can to undermine any legitimate Palestinian resistance movement. They supported Hamas against Fattah because they knew that the monarchies of the Gulf states will never support extremist Islam. They would be digging their own graves if they did so. It was a clever strategy, though everyone in the region understood exactly what Israel and the USA were doing.
The qualified support for the Palestinian Liberation Organisation by King Faisal will not be echoed by support for Hamas by Mohammed Bin Salman and the ruling family of Saudi Arabia. This could be regarded as a political failure by the Saudi people. What this means is that the Saudi state will need to redeem itself (as it will have to do in Yemen) by providing funds for postwar reconstruction, while being seen to place strong diplomatic pressure on the United States, using BRICS as a bargaining chip.
There will not be an oil embargo. There are three reasons for this. In the first place, it did not work. In the second place, an oil embargo would legitimise the victory of Hamas and the Pan-Islamist movement. In the third place, MBS has a nation building project in mind and an oil embargo would be a distraction and an impediment.
The great hope for progressive forces in the region was always that the satrapies installed by the west in the Arabian peninsula would turn against their masters and become proper nation states, powering regional development. Mohammed bin Salman recently made a very bold statement at the recent Arab summit while failing to send out a strong message of support to the Palestinian resistance. He said:
‘We will be the new Europe in 30 years.’