Oh the irony. You just have to laugh when you see this closed, autocratic regime scramble to build a neo-feudal wall in order to protect itself from radical terrorists of its own creation. In fact, it reminds me a lot of U.S. foreign policy. In case you aren’t up to speed on the Saudi relationship to ISIS, I suggest you read the following post: America’s Disastrous Foreign Policy – My Thoughts on Iraq. Here are a couple of excerpts from that piece:
So after the grotesquerie of the Taliban and Osama bin Laden and 15 of the 19 suicide killers of 9/11, meet Saudi Arabia’s latest monstrous contribution to world history: the Islamist Sunni caliphate of Iraq and the Levant, conquerors of Mosul and Tikrit – and Raqqa in Syria – and possibly Baghdad, and the ultimate humiliators of Bush and Obama.
From Aleppo in northern Syria almost to the Iraqi-Iranian border, the jihadists of Isis and sundry other groupuscules paid by the Saudi Wahhabis – and by Kuwaiti oligarchs – now rule thousands of square miles.
Under Obama, Saudi Arabia will continue to be treated as a friendly “moderate” in the Arab world, even though its royal family is founded upon the Wahhabist convictions of the Sunni Islamists in Syria and Iraq – and even though millions of its dollars are arming those same fighters. Thus does Saudi power both feed the monster in the deserts of Syria and Iraq and cosy up to the Western powers that protect it.
But in the years they were getting started, a key component of ISIS’s support came from wealthy individuals in the Arab Gulf States of Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Sometimes the support came with the tacit nod of approval from those regimes; often, it took advantage of poor money laundering protections in those states, according to officials, experts, and leaders of the Syrian opposition, which is fighting ISIS as well as the regime.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been publicly accusing Saudi Arabia and Qatar of funding ISIS for months. Several reports have detailed how private Gulf funding to various Syrian rebel groups has splintered the Syrian opposition and paved the way for the rise of groups like ISIS and others.
When a raiding party from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant attacked a Saudi border post last week, it was no mere hit on a desert outpost.
The jihadists were launching an assault on the new, highest profile effort by Saudi Arabia to insulate itself from the chaos engulfing its neighbors.
The Saudis are building a 600-mile-long “Great Wall” – a combined fence and ditch – to separates the country from Iraq to the north.
Much of the area on the Iraqi side is now controlled by Isil, which regards the ultimate capture of Saudi Arabia, home to the “Two Holy Mosques” of Mecca and Medina, as a key goal.
Riyadh also sent an extra 30,000 troops to the area.
It has also created a physical barrier along parts of the even longer, 1,000-mile border with Yemen to the south.
Here’s what it looks like:
I believe that the recent drop in oil prices puts the current leadership in Saudi Arabia under a significantly higher threat of “regime change” over the next several years. In fact, I’d be surprised if the current status quo continues beyond 2020. While many have noted that the Gulf states are in a good position to ride out the recent price collapse due to massive FX reveres, these reserves can go much faster than expected. Particularly when you need to consistently bribe your own citizenry and build enormous walls on your northern and southern borders.
Of course, perhaps the Saudis aren’t that concerned with ISIS, and rather are looking to defend their ability to wantonly behead people. Indeed, after record beheading lasts year by the Saudis (see: Record Beheadings and the Mass Arrest of Christians – Is it ISIS? No it’s Saudi Arabia), the Kingdom has already put 9 people to death in the first 14 days of 2015. Including a woman, who was decapitated in the middle of the street in Mecca earlier this week.