The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is on the spotlight, not because of its fame as an oil rich country but because of threat to its national security by ISIS. Since the advent of ISIS, the Kingdom has been supporting every course against the deadly organisation. In retaliation, ISIS has promised to attack and bring the Kingdom on its knees. TAKIR AGBI examines the implications.
The beginning of this year was marked by a number of events that threaten the stability of the Arabian Peninsula. The first was the attack by ISIS militants on the Saudi border post of Suveyfe and the second was victory of the Shiite revolution in Yemen.
In addition, the death of Saudi King Abdullah highlighted the complicated tangle of problems that put undue pressure on the functioning of government institutions in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia should have seen some of these problems coming because of some of its policies against Syria, Iraq and Iran, as well as ISIS.
The greatest threat facing the Kingdom now is the declaration by ISIS to invade it. This plan is well articulated in ISIS page on the internet. They boasted that under the command of Sheikh Al-Baghdadi, all those who go for pilgrimage in Mecca would be killed.
According to the fundamentalist group, the ritual of stoning the devil at the Kaaba which is one of the rites performed during holy pilgrimage is idol worship that must be stopped. The terrorists considered idolatrous the worship of the stone, which they claimed prevents true faith in Allah.
The ISIS and Arabian branch of Al Qaeda have declared that they will overthrow the Saudi regime and establish control over the oil industry for its strategic objectives.
Al-Baghadi swore by Allah that soon members of ISIS will destroy the Kaaba when they conquer Saudi Arabia.
From what we have seen of the global terrorist organization (ISIS), perhaps this statement should not be ignored. The successful attack on the check point at Suveyfe surprised many security experts. After January 5, when the Jihadists infiltrated from Iraq into Saudi territory, killing three guards, including a brigadier general, the authorities have started urgent construction of barrier along the border with Iraq and Jordan.
How were the militants able to penetrate the well-guarded border zone? It’s no secret that growing number of the population of the Kingdom are sympathetic to religious extremism. In the ranks of ISIS fighters currently are thousands of natives of Saudi Arabia.
Their aim is to overthrow the current Saudi regime which they view as corrupt and pro-American. It is worth mentioning that Osama bin Laden and most of the terrorists who organized the attacks of September 11, 2001, were from Saudi Arabia.
Only last week, a group of armed terrorists made another attack on border towns in eastern Saudi Arabia. This region is one of the leading oil producers for the Kingdom. Local security forces promptly carried out a raid, resulting in the arrest of about 20 underground militants, consisting mainly of those who previously fought for ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
One of those arrested was its leader and commander of the armed wing, the name of which the Saudi authorities is carefully keeping secret, but believed to have recently arrived from the combat zone in Syria.
There was another event in the Saudi city of Dalva, when terrorists killed several dozens of Shiites. The western media did not give publicity to this mindless killing as they want to avoid portraying Saudi Arabia, the number one United States’ ally in that region as a country under ISIS siege.
They also want to down play the serious threat of instability that threatens the foundations of the ruling Wahhabi regime. The authorities have continued to assure that everything is under control and ISIS will not dare to invade the kingdom. But ISIS insists that it was only a tentative step. Nobody knows the mind set of this brutal terrorist organization. But they are capable of doing anything including a large-scale invasion. Only in January 2014, Riyadh committed hundreds of millions of dollars to support the ISIS which was then fighting along Syrian rebels to topple the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Funding by Saudi Arabia was only suspended when fight broke out between ISIS front “An-Nusra” and “Free Syrian Army”, which is also funded by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.
In March 2014, realising the threat to its security, Saudi Arabia was forced to declare ISIS a terrorist organisation and made a law punishing all returnee Jihadists and sending them to prison. The royal family accused them of trying to sow discord by encouraging young Saudis to revolt. ISIS responded promptly by calling for the overthrow of the Saudi monarchy and the release of the holy places of Islam.
When Riyadh in October 2014 joined the United States led anti-terrorist coalition with a number of NATO countries and began bombing ISIS positions in Syria, many Arab political analysts predicted that the terrorists will take revenge by taking their fight to the territory of the Kingdom. Their prediction appears to be gaining relevance. With benefit of hindsight, ISIS has proved to be a very brutal and vindictive terrorist organization that will not spare any perceived enemy.
Saudi Arabia is certainly one of the enemies of the Islamic fundamentalists. Their recent policies have tended to curtail the excesses of the terrorist organisation which is very uncomfortable with Saudi Arabia brand of moderate Islamism. It is the major grouse against the kingdom by the extremist sect. Now the Saudis have to remain alert and ready as well as watch and pray to contain the monster they helped the US to nurture.
Agbi, a social researcher, writes from Lafia, Nasarawa State