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Daily News Analysis

Tribal dynamics of the Saudi regime – an internal time bomb

Crescent International

For refusing to give up his property for a Red Sea mega-project, the Saudi regime murdered Abdul Rahim al-Hwaiti, an activist.

This was reported by the Qatari regime’s media outlet, Al Jazeera (AJ) on April 15.

According to AJ, “al-Hwaiti was shot dead after recording his last video documenting security forces storming his property… Al-Hwaiti hails from the powerful al-Huwaitat tribe who are based in three countries: Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the Sinai in Egypt. The al-Huwaitat have resided in the region for more than 800 years, predating the Saudi state itself by many centuries over.”

Thus, it should come as no surprise if the arrogant behaviour of Saudi crown prince Muhammad bin Salman (MbS), the de facto ruler, leads to the destabilization of the monarchy.

The Saudi regime is underpinned in part by the tribal power dynamic but since grabbing most levers of power in his hands, MbS has disrupted all old equations.

Tribal fissures are likely to pose a far greater threat to the regime’s hold on power than declining oil prices or even the internal royal disputes, serious as they are.

Since the US and Israel signed off on MbS’ rise to power, Saudi tribalism has turned into the regime’s key ideological line of defence.

In September 2018, Professor Madawi al-Rasheed, one of the leading experts on the Saudi regime, writing for the Middle East Eye, stated that “MbS is determined to develop a new Saudi nationalism among the youth. The slogan of this trend is ‘Saudi Arabia for Saudis’ and the Trump-like ‘Saudi Arabia first’. Both have been prominent in the discourse of writers enlisted in the state-owned press and social media. The new narrative is not simply a spontaneous grassroots movement but a state-led initiative under the auspices of the crown prince.”

Professor al-Rasheed also hinted that Saudi nationalism is an oxymoron in a tribal society which has been constructed into a state by foreign entities.

Saudi “nationalism” is a tribalistic project based on the notion of al-Saud’s dominance over other tribes.

While in tribal societies dominance of one tribe is a normal socio-political process, the Saudi version occurred through artificial means.

The Bani Saud do not maintain dominance over other tribes through a natural power dynamic, but only due to their subservience to Washington and the Zionist entity.

Among the tribes of the occupied Arabian Peninsula, the ruling regimes are composed of tribes that pledged allegiance to external imperialist powers.

Thus, they do not have an honorable legacy even in the narrow tribalistic sense.

In tribal societies, legacy and honor are crucial aspects of tribal power dynamics.

In the post-Khulafa al-Rashidoon period, even those who subverted the Khilafah into a monarchical system and murdered the close companions of the Prophet (pbuh), tried to utilize the legacy of their tribe’s relationship with the last Messenger of Allah and missed no opportunity to highlight how they “supported” the Prophet in his endeavor to establish the Islamic state system.

The Saudi tribe’s only fallback “legacy” is that it massacred Muslims and made a pact with the British colonialists to bring down the Khilafah, albeit nominal, then led by the Ottoman sultanate.

Thus, if tribalistic tendencies in Saudi occupied Arabian Peninsula are aroused, its first casualty is likely to be the Bani Saud themselves.

Their dominance is an externally imposed construct which other tribes do not view as legitimate.

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