RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - Police cars and armored vehicles flooded the al-Malaz neighborhood in the Saudi capital Sunday as security forces surrounded a house where suspected militants were believed to have taken refuge after a shootout with police.
The massive operation was under way in the same district that was the focus of a huge security sweep against militants sought in the beheading of American hostage Paul M. Johnson Jr., whose body has still not been found.
I wonder more about whether the House of Saud can crack down in a meaningful way on the Caliphascists. There’s certainly no reason to believe, a priori, that the Sauds haven’t waited too long to try to regain control. We know that the Saudi security organizations are heavily infiltrated (if not flat out controlled) by Caliphascists. The population is largely sympathetic to the Caliphascists or, at best, indifferent to the current rulers. In such a situation, is it actually possible for the House of Saud to win?
I’m reminded of the fall of many right wing dictators (Somoza, the Shah of Iran) where what did them in was their unwillingness to really got to the mat against the rebels. The rebels didn’t win militarily but by using violence to demoralize the rulers so that they surrendered / fled. Does the House of Saud have the stomach to engage in the dangerous business of suppression in a compromised state where the princes themselves are at risk? Given previous behaviour, that’s hardly a given. What will happen the first time the Caliphascists break security on some prince and do to him what was done to the Coalition contractors in Fallujah? Will the House of Saud pull together in a tough stance or panic and flee like chickens when the fox gets in the henhouse?
Even if we take the large assumption that the House of Saud is psychologically prepared for battle, one is left wondering if the tools at hand are adequate. At some point, if the security organizations are sufficiently penetrated, using them is actually good for the rebels (I think this is what Musharif is scared of finding out about Pakistan’s security). This kind of penetration could be overcome with popular support, but the House of Saud isn’t well capitalized in that department either.
I can’t say at this point that I’d be surpised to see the House of Saud go down from internal dissent / rebellion before Iran. As shaky as the Iranian mullahocracy is, they’ve shown far more ability and willingness to put the hammer down. I think we should start planning for what we’ll do when the House of Saud falls.
P.S. As I mentioned earlier, the Caliphascists will have a severe problem with oil production because they’ll have a hard time keeping it up but can’t afford to not produce, not to mention that they’ll want the money. It’s an open question whether the fall of the House of Saud will really make that much difference in the West, especially if Iraq is functional by then.