As the global world order undergoes rebalancing and becomes multipolar, three powerful Muslim countries with elected leaders — Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan — could potentially engineer a groundbreaking development by returning Makkah and Madinah (collectively known as the Haramayn) to the Muslim Ummah. This article will examine the potential variables of this grand hypothetical move.
The Saudi regime has never been as vulnerable in its history as it is today. It is experiencing internal strife, external military humiliation and its relationship with its chief patron and protector, the US, is rocky. None of this would matter much to the Muslim world if the Saudi regime did not occupy Makkah and Madinah.
The Najdi Bedouins’ importance to the US is primarily due to their control of Makkah and Madinah. It gives Washington the ability to project “Islamic” soft power through Saudi machinations.
Today the corrupt and despotic essence of the Saudi regime is no longer disputed by Muslims anywhere. Muslims worldwide view the Bani Saud regime as one of the primary obstacles to progress in the Muslim world. The arch-enemies of Islamic revival and Muslim liberation, like the Zionist regime of Israel and the despot of Egypt, ‘Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi, are best friends of Bani Saud.
Muslims see the antics of the Najdi Bedouins as an embarrassment and a blemish on the name of Islam. They want them banished to the backwaters of Najd. They can resume herding their camels and live in tents as they did before they erupted from Dar‘iyah in 1744. Few informed Muslim and non-Muslim analysts would question this.
In 2015, Crescent International wrote about the necessary preemptive steps to protect Makkah and Madinah from takfiri terrorists. One of our proposals was to “internationalize” Makkah and Madinah, “as these places belong to all the Muslims equally and cannot be treated as family or state property. Muslim states could come up with a mechanism that would allocate two or three states managerial responsibility for managing Hajj and ‘Umrah for a period of four years. These states would provide the management and security personnel for Hajj and ‘Umrah along with 50% of the budget. The remaining 50% of the costs would be provided by all other Muslim states. Once the states complete their four-year term, they could propose their candidacy for managing Hajj and ‘Umrah only after eight years. This mechanism of course would require basic common sense and flexibility by Muslim statesmen.”
The proposal to reclaim the Haramayn from the clutches of Bani Saud cannot occur without other states’ military intervention. Such a scenario, however, is unlikely to take place at present but in the near future it cannot be ruled out completely as the collapse of the Saudi regime will be messy. In such a scenario, Muslim states will have to pay attention to Hajj being accessible for all Muslims.
Once the Saudi regime begins to experience internal destabilization, the primary internal battle will be between two ideological twins, the Bani Saud regime and its non-loyal takfiri/salafi branch. Should this happen, the three Muslim countries with leadership that has popular legitimacy could reconfigure the geopolitical landscape of the Muslim world.
Assuming that Pakistan, Turkey and Iran decide to secure Makkah and Madinah from their illegitimate annexation by the Saudi regime, there are four key questions that need to be considered:
The first question is simple. The Muslim world would be euphoric to see joint Muslim action in eliminating the rule of one of the most corrupt regimes over Islam’s most sacred sites. Most Muslims agree that the Saudi regime is antethical to Islam and the fact that this horde of criminals is in control of Islam’s two most important sites is seen as an embarrassment to all Muslims.
Muslims would also view a joint albeit hypothetical action by Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan as a positive political development. It would be viewed as a first proper cooperative action by states representing Muslim interests. While the Muslim Ummah longs for unity, foreign installed rulers in Muslim countries are assigned by their masters to create disunity. Thus, any action manifesting active unity would be a very welcome policy in the Muslim world.
Any action against the Saudi regime must take into account US reaction. Bani Saud are in power primarily because of Washington’s military, political, and diplomatic support. The US would not allow the Saudi regime to collapse without trying to save it. The only instance that would prevent the US from intervening on behalf of Bani Saud is if Muslims declare that the action only concerns Makkah and Madinah. The Americans would simply not be able to intervene. Action against the Saudi regime that is limited to liberating Makkah and Madinah only would be strictly an intra-Muslim issue. No US politician would be able to sell the policy of US soldiers dying for Makkah and Madinah. This would be seen as heresy by secular and Christian segments of the American society. A coalition of Muslim states taking bold action to restore the sacred status of Makkah and Madinah would be a bulletproof political case. Even the Wahhabi palace scholars would not be able to call on the US to intervene. What would their “fatwas” declare? We want the US army to institute tawhid in Makkah and Madinah?
The legality angle of a potential action by Pakistan, Turkey, and Iran revolves primarily around politics and public relations. The so-called international law can be interpreted in many different ways. Powerful states determined to act can interpret international law in a way that suits their interests. NATO member states do this regularly. How can the US interpret its illegal actions in Iraq as legal but Muslim states cannot legalize their actions against one of the most despotic regimes in the world that has illegally usurped Islam’s most sacred sites? A small financial chip-in by Pakistan, Turkey, and Iran can flood the airwaves of international media with legal experts who can explain the necessity of the action within the required legal parameters.
The aspect of feasibility of removing Bani Saud from Makkah and Madinah is straightforward. From a military perspective, the combined forces of Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey will simply walk over the pathetic cabal of armed thugs known as the Saudi army. Their military humiliation in Yemen is clear proof that the Saudi military has no backbone.
The above factors indicate that there is fertile political and social ground to liberate Makkah and Madinah. The only obstacle to joint action is mustering the political will to make the much-needed decision. Reliance on Allah (swt) by the leadership of these Muslim countries and their sincere concern for Muslim interests can usher an unprecedented change in the Muslim world if Makah and Madinah were to return to all Muslims.