Thursday, 29 May 2008

Crucible of Terror - Part 2

. Bloodbath

Ibn Saud now ruled over a people with a myriad of different tribal and religious identities. To add to his problems, the social base that he could claim among the ruled was thin. If the new territory were to be governable, then the creation of a unified identity was required. Given the fact that the new entity was created by conquest, with not a hint of any movement from below, this would have to come from above. In short, everything pointed to a bloodbath and that was exactly what happened.

Wahhabism was a minority religious sect that viewed intolerance of other strands of thought as a religious duty. They were ‘heretics’ and therefore their treatment as sub-human was more than justified. As an ideology it was therefore well equipped for the task in hand: the unleashing and justification of mass terror. The Saud loyalist Ikhwan were the obvious choice to carry out that terror. They formed the core of the Committee for Advancement of Virtue and Elimination of Sin (Caves), a body which exists to this very day. Religious and non-religious dissenters were butchered, as the Ikhwan murdered their way across the newly acquired territory. Houses were ransacked and whole towns were razed to the ground. Singing was forbidden, flowerpots were smashed, and telephone lines were cut because they were the work of the devil.

Eventually Saud became weary of their growing power. In turn they questioned his close relationship with Britain. Saud, however, had no intention of ending his reliance on Britain and the stage was set for the inevitable showdown. They rebelled against Saud, but the support of the British gave him the edge. Having served their purpose and secured the House of Saud’s domination, the Ikhwan were massacred (though they were reintegrated as the White Guard - later the National Guard).

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