Saturday, April 23, 2011

The House of Saud must feel the rumblings from Damascus

Revolutionary fervor in Syria; Bashar al-Assad, the seemingly untouchable modern-ish leader of Syria, whose family graced the pages of Vogue Magazine recently, worries while ordering rather lethal means to ensure a follow-up article for the Winter fashion issue. I sense the House of Saud’s foundation must feel the rumble of change. No doubt, our government is concerned for a number of reasons.

Saudi Arabia, while a powerful country, possesses a fragile side. It’s not a mere issue of oil production and revenue, making them a sort of one-commodity pony. One should consider the House of Saud’s sacred trust as Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques (Mecca and Medina). King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz’s role is so much more than symbolic.

With so much change recently, presently and sure to come, I wonder how these changed people will carry this change with them to the Hajj this year in November by our calendar. More than three million participated last year; people from all over the world to include the United States. While our vital national interests focus upon energy access, my concern here suggests that we remember the important religious role of the House of Saud. As we are learning, these struggles of leadership consist of struggles between people.

We may have a noble American belief in self-determination, yet our current intervention in Libya must have the House of Saud wondering about our rather scattered ways to foster this word we use freely..democracy. Writing about Saudi Arabia in the United States is a delicate matter requiring finesse and awareness of economic implications, continued regional military basing arrangements, and yes, oil.

So many American companies and people are there working. So many service members and contractors serve there. We have our interests, yet do we really understand The House of Saud? Do we understand the implications should the house crumble?

Amid our hopes for increased oil production in Saudi Arabia to ease the pain of the rumored $6/gallon of petrol price by this summer, we should be concerned for the people who will grant our wish. The House of Saud must feel the rumblings from Damascus. Do we?

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