The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Saudi Arabia:
The smell of petro-dollars

Aug 15, 2005

Bush sent condolences to the Saud royal family upon the death of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia. Cheney went to the funeral. It is hardly surprising since the reactionary Saud dynasty is one of the chief defenders of U.S. imperialist interests in the Middle East.

This monarchy was established by Ibn Saud, essentially a local warlord in the region in 1932 when the British were beginning to exploit the oil there. Ever since, he and his descendants have ruled the country as an absolute monarchy. Saudi oil has never benefitted the population nor have the profits made on oil gone back into building up the country. Instead 7,000 Saud family members live the life of luxury from a small part of the profits made on this oil. The bulk of the money goes into imperialism's multi-national corporations and financial institutions.

Such wealth in a poor region of the world can only be kept in place by vicious repression. The regime applies torture and the death penalty on a grand scale. Amputations of limbs and whippings are common. The press is heavily controlled; all opposition in savagely repressed. Twenty% of the Saudi budget is devoted to military expenses, much to the profit of Boeing and Lockheed-Martin.

It has taken the Saudi regime until this year to hold an election – and even then it was only for city governments. But the majority couldn't vote! Women were not allowed to vote, nor were the huge numbers of immigrants who make up most of the work force of the country.

Another very effective method of repression is the imposition of Sharia, the Islamic law. From the beginning, Saudi Arabia was the main home of Wahabism, a fundamentalist form of Islam. The religious police are everywhere to enforce their rules. Women are deprived of any rights, unable even to go out without a male relative escorting them, or to drive a car. Women were not even allowed to go to school until 1960. That was also the year slavery was abolished in Saudi Arabia – but only on paper! It still exists for many immigrant families in Saudi Arabia.

Shakespeare has the murderous Lady Macbeth say about the blood on her hand, "all the perfumes of Arabia can't sweeten this little hand." Today's perfume of Saudi Arabia has the stink of oil. And all the world's imperialists love the smell, as Cheney and Bush could certainly testify.