“Imperialism and the Construction of Saudi Arabia”

I’ve finally finished writing a lengthy essay, that I’ve been working on for some five months, titled “Imperialism and the Construction of Saudi Arabia”, that discusses the formation and consolidation of Saudi Arabia as a state, postwar Middle Eastern geopolitics, the dialectic between global capitalism and Saudi-Wahhabi elites in both Saudi state formation and the stabilization and restructuring of the world economy in the 1970s, and the role of oil and fundamentalist Islam in all of this.  From the introduction:

The very foundation of Saudi Arabia as a political power, and its conquest of the Arabian Peninsula, was dependent on foreign powers, particularly the British Empire and American oil companies.  As the region developed and the Arabian working class grew in size and consciousness, new political tendencies and movements took hold.  Throughout the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, the conservative religious royals of Saudi Arabia were besieged by diverse and vibrant political trends—particularly socialist and republican movements—that sought to overthrow the monarchy, expel the imperial powers, and seize control of the region’s energy resources.  These movements had a real chance of success, but ultimately could not overcome the political, military, and economic support that the House of Saud garnered from the West.  It was only with the defeat of progressive forces that Saudi Arabia was able to consolidate its control over the Gulf oil fields, begin the export of fundamentalist Islam, and help recycle oil rents into the international financial markets—underwriting the neoliberal restructuring of global capitalism that began in the 1970s.

The essay mainly covers the postwar era.  I still have some 20 pages of unedited writing, covering the period from 1979 to the present day, that discusses the evolution of US-Saudi relations, the militarization of Wahhabism during the course of the 1980s Afghanistan war, the way the end of the Cold War and the September 11th attacks affected the US-Saudi axis, and the revolutions and counter-revolutions of the Arab Spring.  Hopefully I’ll be able to compile those into two or three more essays eventually…


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