by Zafar Bangash (Reflections, Crescent International Vol. 33, No. 1, Muharram, 1425)
The Saudis' subservience to the US, and the fact that they exploit their position as rulers of the Holy Lands of Islam, is well established. What many people do not realize is that this is not a new phenomenon; in fact their very ascent to power over the Haramain was part of a well-established British plan to install a "trusted Muslim agent" in the most sacred territory of Islam. As early as 1902, the British consul in Jeddah had warned the Foreign Office in London that each year thousands of Muslims from around the world gather in Makkah and Madinah for Hajj, where they discuss issues away from the prying eyes of Britain (and other foreign powers). Realizing the importance of this warning, Britain started to sow the seeds of distrust between Muslims by injecting the poison of nationalism among Arabs, arousing them against the Ottoman Turks, who administered the Haramain at the time. Sharif Husain of Makkah, the Ottomans' Arab governor, was promised leadership of the entire Arab world if he would help Britain to drive the Turks out of the Arabian Peninsula. This Sharif Husain (great-great-grandfather of the current ruler of Jordan) willingly did.
While Sharif Husain was leading the Arab revolt against the Ottomans, another Arab tribal chief, Abdul Aziz ibn Saud, who had gained notoriety by raiding pilgrims' caravans, also emerged on the scene. True to form, the British financed both. When asked in 1914 why Britain was financing two rival Arab leaders, Winston Churchill, then British colonial secretary, replied that His Majesty's Government was getting value for its money. Being more ruthless, Ibn Saud won the power struggle against Sharif Husain, who fled into exile, finally settling in Trans-Jordan (as Jordan was then known), which the British had carved out of Palestine for one his sons. In the Arabian Peninsula, Ibn Saud's hordes perpetrated horrible crimes against Muslims; neither Makkah nor Madinah was spared, an appalling massacre was perpetrated in Taif and many historical sites were desecrated. By 1932 Ibn Saud had tightened his grip on the entire Arabian Peninsula and declared himself king.
Since then the House of Saud have not looked back as agents of the kuffar — first of Britain and then of Britain’s successor as the world’s dominant imperial power, the US. The American involvement goes as far back as 1947, since which time the Saudis have worked closely with the all US plans in the Middle East, including the establishment of the zionist state in Palestine. In early 1945, US president Harry Truman assured Ibn Saud, following the latter's fears of an attack from Iraq or Trans-Jordan, that the US considered the survival of the House of Saud as vital to "American interests". In 1950, after receiving further assurances from Truman, Ibn Saud is reported to have said that "he considered the United States and Saudi Arabia as One State" (quoted in the Washington Post, February 9, 1992). Ibn Saud’s acquiescence in the creation of Israel is just one example of the Saudis’ betrayal of Muslims and Islam, a role they have been careful to conceal through anti-zionist rhetoric, patronage of Islamic causes and organizations, and the pious adoption of the title "protectors of the Haramain."
This history is instructive as Muslims plan for the liberation of their lands currently under foreign domination, especially Palestine and al-Quds. Today the Palestinians stand virtually alone against a ruthless enemy determined to eliminate them totally or, failing that, lock them away in giant concentration camp. Despite their heroic resistance, the Palestinians on their own can never succeed in throwing off the yoke of US-supported zionist colonialism. The lesson for Muslims is clear: just as the ground was prepared for the establishment of the zionist state by the British and French break-up of the Ottoman Khilafah, so must Muslims too rearrange the political situation in the areas surrounding Palestine if they are to succeed in liberating Al-Quds. This is what Salahuddin Ayyubi did before reclaiming Jerusalem for Islam by defeating the Crusaders in 1187 CE; his first task, before taking on the Crusaders occupying Jerusalem, was to liberate the lands surrounding Palestine from the clutches of incompetent, tyrannical Muslim rulers.
For Muslims today, therefore, the starting point must be the liberation of the Haramain from the clutches of the House of Saud and re-establishing them as the centre of Islamic revival, in strict adherence to the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (saw). Without this, the task of the Islamic movement will remain incomplete; and any successes it achieves will remain partial, and therefore illusory.