( 11 ) : part2
CHAPTER I: The Opposition Movement of Nasser Al-Saeed

CHAPTER I: The Opposition Movement of Nasser Al-Saeed

 

Introduction: the Sunnite opposition movement of Nasser Al-Saeed during the reign of King Saud (1953-1964):

 

  The genius, ideal, and unique location of Egypt imposed on Abdul-Aziz to exert double efforts to pave the way to spread Wahabism in Egypt, resulting in the terrorist Hassan Al-Banna forming the terrorist MB group that adopted the Wahabi ideology. Favorable circumstances and conditions in Egypt coincided to enable the terrorist MB group to mushroom like cancerous cells all over Egyptian soil in the period 1928-1952. At the time, Egypt witnessed an era of liberalism that lacked social justice; hence, there was very little room for social mobility flexible enough to welcome the learned ones among the sons of peasants and workers (i.e., the lower classes) to climb the social ladder to the middle classes. Likewise, there was no flexibility to allow sons of the middle classes to rise to the high classes. Yet, within the political atmosphere of liberalism and the freedom in political activism, journalism, and the literary field, the youth deprived of self-expression joined any trends of revolt and opposition of different ideologies: chauvinistic parties like Young Egypt Party (i.e., Misr Al-Fatah), communist and socialist parties within the Leftist spectra, and lastly, the ultra-right, conservative religious groups like the terrorist MB group. Some other youths joined the Egyptian army via the military college, and some rebels formed a movement inside the army called ''The Free Officers Movement'' that included members of all the previously mentioned opposition movements, who welcomed the 1952 coup d'état and turned it into a full-fledged revolution. It was rumored that the Free Officers Movement allied itself in particular to the terrorist MB group, but they parted in different ways as their disputes were insuperable barrier. The terrorist MB group conspired and plotted the assassination attempt of President Gamal Abdel-Nasser in 1954, and he had to banish and imprison many of the terrorist MB group members as a result. Some of them fled to the KSA, the homeland of their ideology. Hence, a confrontation between a Nasserist Egypt and the KSA in the reign of Saud seemed inevitable. The genius, ideal, and unique location of Egypt made Abdel-Nasser exert little efforts to export his revolutionary ideas outside Egypt, especially to the KSA. It was easy for the Egyptian President to quell and curb the terrorist MB group members and their activities inside Egypt. In fact, he stopped the spread of Wahabi/Salafist thought in Egypt and even cornered and limited such thought in the KSA, as Nasserism imposed itself because of the weight of Egypt as a pole in the Middle East. Even some Saudi princes were influenced to the extent that they called themselves ''the Free Princes'' to imitate the name of "The Free Officers'' in Egypt. The genius, ideal, and unique location of Egypt coupled with the leadership and policies of Abdel-Nasser in the 1950s followed the art of politics of the possible in the time of the impossible: he revolutionized Egyptians, drove out the British occupation, faced the Tripartite Aggression in 1956 (a.k.a. the Suez Crisis), achieved a temporary unity with Syria, and defied international powers in the scene, and yet, his greatest achievement was his changing the international, regional, and local political and cultural climate as he spread the Leftist and the Pan-Arabism ideologies as well as notions like positive neutrality and non-alliance and the solidarity of popular forces. Abdel-Nasser dared to defy the colonial powers and the American arrogance as the USA backed Israel. It was a natural step that the Egyptian President would ally himself to the USSR and the socialist east camp, as he led the Third-World countries and their peoples in their struggle for liberation and getting rid of the old colonialism and the American imperialism. Thus, he stood against the countries of the capitalist west camp as well as the so-called regressive countries. The KSA, Iran, and Jordan were among the so-called regressive countries at the time. King Saud paid a heavy price for this new climate created by Abdel-Nasser within the local, regional, and international levels; as Saud lived in luxury, affluence, and extravagance while retaining tyranny and Wahabism like his father. His lifestyle and political life might have continued in the same manner without much protest, pretty much like the last 20 years of his father's reign, if it had not been for the political and cultural climate created by Abdel-Nasser. King Saud faced a Nasserist or Nasserite opposition movement inside his kingdom that led eventually to his dethronement; it was easy for opponents and foes of King Saud to embrace the Nasserist ideology and to discard the Wahabi one, and this was what Nasser Al-Saeed just did. Strangely, Abdel-Nasser as a despot in his internal policies adopted the same tyrannical ones of King Saud; yet, Abdel-Nasser accused King Saud of being a dictator who wasted money in extravagance, luxurious living, and profligacy. Abdel-Nasser ruled with revolutionary legitimacy as a dictator; for instance, he annulled the 1921 Constitution, confiscated and restricted the liberties and freedoms Egyptians enjoyed during the liberal period of 1923-1952, incarcerated, exiled, persecuted, and restricted his foes and opponents inside the Egyptian army and outside it, and persecuted and imprisoned communists and persons he called the regressive ones. If King Saud spent millions in extravagance and luxury, Abdel-Nasser wasted the gold of Egypt in an unfortunate adventure in Yemen, and he and his regime received a fatal blow as he was defeated in the 1967 war. We conclude then that tyranny of all sorts lead to the same result. But the Egyptian propaganda machine of the powerful regional pole, Egypt, condemned King Saud and catapulted Abdel-Nasser into fame and glory in the eyes of his admirers. Abdel-Nasser managed to silence the voices of his detractors, foes, and opponents, whereas King Saud had many detractors, foes, and opponents who were outspoken and vociferous inside the KSA, forcing him to give up the throne. It is noteworthy that the political and cultural climate inside the KSA was favorable toward the flourishing of the Nasserist ideology and propaganda, especially that the generation of King Abdul-Aziz died or retired. The next generation included several persons who received secular and civil education and readily embraced new ideas and notions. Even those who received conservative education among this generation used to listen to radio stations and to use modern inventions, as they were more open-minded than the Najd Brothers and the religious scholars during the era of Abdul-Aziz. As King Abdul-Aziz died, and no one inherited his charisma and strong character, his son and successor, King Saud could not occupy his father's place and could not gain his stature, and he was criticized severely for a long time. Thus, the internal side of the KSA interacted with the external influence of the Nasserist ideology coming from Egypt, as a new type of opposition movement, led by Al-Saeed, emerged in the KSA. Overtly, this type of opposition led by Al-Saeed seemed outside the fundamentalist Sunnite Wahabi opposition movements. There were influential factors within the opposition movements against King Saud embodied by the role of ''the promotion of virtue and the prevention of vice'' religious police forces and the so-called 'Islamic' universities that led to the rise of fundamentalism, as the policies of King Saud escalated the opposition movement until he was dethroned at one point. Yet, a closer look by researchers would show that the opposition movement of Al-Saeed, though influenced by socialism and Nasserism, was derived chiefly from a fundamentalist Sunnite vision and religious discourse in its essence. We are to remember that the decisive, real factor that influenced the opposition movements was oil, as its revenues led to the modernization of the KSA and led to much internal transformation. This modernization negatively influenced the role and stature of Wahabi clergymen and also led to limited development; as the infrastructure suffered and the lower, impecunious, underprivileged classes still lived in despicable conditions without reform, in contrast to the affluence and extravagance of King Saud. The external influence of oil revenues was the King Saud's allying himself to the USA, his hatred of Abdel-Nasser, and his animosity toward the socialist east camp. Within such climate, the Saudi opposition movements during the reign of King Saud were directed toward the dominant socialist thought, with varying degrees. Al-Saeed was the most prominent and most famous opposition figure, and the most vociferous with steadfastness to his stances. His reference was a religious one with a vision to achieve justice as the supreme higher value of Islam. The thought of Al-Saeed in his writings bears the imprint of religious innovative thinking that shows the fact that Islam fits all eras and locations if there would be enlightened Islamic thinkers who would derive innovative, creative notions from the Quran as fitting their age. The innovation of Al-Saeed was Islamic in the sense that justice as the higher value dominant in the Quran must be linked to sharia objectives and a realistic view of the age as well as the social conditions and circumstances. The role of Wahabi clergymen dwindled to a great extent in the KSA, and other opposition figures were engrossed into nationalist and socialist tendencies. Al-Saeed was the only opposition figure that coupled his Nasserist and socialist tendencies with an Islamic vision. In this chapter, we trace the influence of oil revenues on internal policies of King Saud (personal extravagance and modernization of the kingdom) and his external policies, as oil made the KSA the main point of international interests and made it influential within the international community. The alliance between the KSA and the USA resulted in the animosity of the KSA toward Narcissism, socialism, communism. We trace as well how external and internal policies of King Saud helped to escalate the opposition movements and to direct them to socialism. And lastly, we outline Al-Saeed and his life, opposition movement, demands voiced by him, and analysis of his discourse in terms of political, religious, and intellectual aspects, and how his opposition movement influenced the inside of the KSA. His opposition movement was not a Wahabi one; yet, we trace it here because it is could not be overlooked and as it led to Wahabi opposition movements after it, such as the one by Juhayman Al-Otaybi.

 

 

Firstly: the historical background of the Sunnite opposition movement of Nasser Al-Saeed during the reign of King Saud:

Oil as the most influential factor in policies of King Saud and in the opposition movement:

 

(A) Development of oil production during the reign of King Saud:

 

  Abdul-Aziz witnessed during his lifetime the huge leaps in the KSA annual national income derived from oil revenues. It was 200.000 $ before World War I, 10 million $ shortly before World War II, 60 million $ in 1948, and 160 million $ in 1952. In 1953, when Abdul-Aziz died, it reached 250 million $, and the KSA revenues in general reached the total sum of 757 million SR, from which 90% came from oil revenues (1). Despite the extravagance and huge spending of King Saud, resulting in financial troubles that led to his dethronement, the KSA national income in the last year of his reign reached the total sum of 500 million $ (2). Such sums influenced the era and policies of King Saud; oil was the real factor influencing the opposition movements that emerged later on.   

 

(B) Oil and the affluence of King Saud:

 

  Until 1959, when the very first state oil-based budget appeared in the KSA, there was no clear distinction or barrier between the State money and that of the royal family. Abdul-Aziz used to consider the State money as his personal property spent on ameliorating conditions of the KSA in the way that pleased him; in just the same way caliphs did during the Middle Ages.  Within the modernization process of the KSA, the Finance Ministry was established to undertake the management of the State money and to differentiate the money allotted for the royal family and the throne and the finance of the State. In the 1958:1959 budget, the Saudi throne and the royal family received 17 % of the budget for its expenditure as well as 19% within 'other expenditure' as per the wishes of the king. Unlike his father King Abdul-Aziz, King Saud was a spendthrift, a squanderer, and a big spender, especially after oil revenues soared, and news of the affluence and extravagance of the royal palaces were much talked of as contradicting Wahabi and Salafist teachings and the Spartan living of the KSA before the discovery of oil (3). King Saud spent in building a new city named Al-Nasseriyya, an eight-square-kilometers city which included tens of palaces, the total sum of 8 million SR, and when he felt that the designs of its palaces were old, he demolished the city and rebuilt it spending 850 million SR, a sum that included 43 million SR for municipality services. Al-Nasseriyya included schools for the princes – sons of King Saud – sports halls and courts, movie theaters, swimming pools, and all other luxuries that money could buy as well as American restaurants that prepare meals for King Saud and his sons in return of a monthly sum of 350 thousand $. American personnel used to supervise all facilities of Al-Nasseriyya. Al-Kharj Farms Project was established specially to provide Al-Nasseriyya with milk, butter, chickens, meat, and watermelons, and this project's costs reached the total sum of 27 million $, with chickens and cows imported specially from the USA to the project with the total sum of 20 million $ (4). Simultaneously, 300 Bedouins had their hands cut off by the governor of Al-Ahsa because they were so hungry that they stole, slaughtered, and ate two camels, and the governor fined them the total sum of 600 SR in return for the two stolen camels (5). In fact, King Saud followed the footsteps of his father, King Abdul-Aziz, in giving salaries to Bedouins, but these salaries were meager, measly stipends for ordinary Bedouins and large – to some extent – o the tribal leaders (6). This gap between poverty and extravagance and affluence inside royal palaces stirred the opposition movements against King Saud and directed them toward socialism and social justice, with references of Nasser Al-Saeed differed partially from those of the other communists and socialists, as Abdel-Nasser's Egypt spread the socialist ideology. 

 

(C) Oil and modernization of the KSA:

 

 The discovery of oil and its subsequent economy and revenues in the KSA led to the establishment of complicated administrational hierarchies, unlike the simple administration during the reign of King Abdul-Aziz. Until 1951, there were three ministries only with simple management staff: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, established in 1930, Ministry of Finance, established in 1932, and Ministry of Defense, established in 1946. Complicated ministerial affairs grew as Ministries of Education, Agriculture, Transport, Trade, and Industry between 1951 and 1954. Six ministries were added along with three State Ministers without ministerial portfolios between 1960 and 1962. Independent departments and bureaus of State management and administration as well as ministerial councils and governmental public agencies were established in the 1960s for railways, airports, mining, oil, etc. (7). This modernization of the KSA led to four main results as follows.     

 

1-    Marginalization the role of Wahabi scholars: The Najd clergymen were more extremist and influential that their peers elsewhere in the KSA, especially in Hejaz, a region more open to the outside world and its modern age. Hence, Salafist education was dominant in Najd in contrast to the secular one that dominated Hejaz even before its conquest by Abdul-Aziz. Both clergymen of Hejaz and Najd were under the control of the Saudi authorities that had to strike a balance between modernization and the Sunnite Wahabi fundamentalism typical of Najd. Naturally, modernization adopted by the Saudi authorities had its influence over the power and authority inherited and enjoyed by the Wahabi scholars especially in Najd and Riyadh, the Saudi capital that aimed under the auspices of King Saud to be a modern capital. Because of administrational and hierarchical complications within public and social services as well as municipalities and religious organizations led to the marginalization of the role of clergymen in all aspects; for instance, there were few members in all religious originations or councils who were clergymen. Scholars no longer had any influence or control in managing religious endowments, religious schools, and Ministry of Education. Besides, education curricula were no longer confined to religious subjects; as modern sciences were included despite Wahabi scholars' vehement opposition. Even in courts and within judges, oil revenues and expansion of public services led to the exclusion of clergymen from courts and the posts of judges, as they could not cope with new problems, disputes, and cases especially related to foreigners. Abdul-Aziz used to deal with such cases himself until the 1930s, and he no longer could go on undertaking this mission. Religious courts could not deal with criminal laws and civil suits as well as complicated disputes resulting from oil companies. Abdul-Aziz had to specify certain courts for such matters and to employ experts, who received secular education, to deal with them, like trade disputes settlement departments, cheating cases committees, and supervision councils. Such entities were annexed to the Saudi judicial system, while including only two Wahabi scholars to represent sharia (8).          

2-    Subjugation of Wahabi scholars to the Saudi State: Within policies of modernization and development, the Saudi authorities had to fully control all clergymen and to employ them within the following councils and committees: ''the promotion of virtue and the prevention of vice'', religious researches, fatwas issuing, supervision of girls' education, the Wahabi call, and the supervision of mosques and religious endowments. The committee for ''the promotion of virtue and the prevention of vice'' has been the oldest Saudi authority, since it began in 1903, founded by Abdul-Aziz Ibn Abdul-Latif Al-Sheikh in Riyadh after its conquest by Abdul-Aziz. This committee expanded along with territories annexed by Abdul-Aziz in Arabia until it reached Hejaz, where Mecca and Yathreb are, and its supreme management was always in the hands of one of sons of Al-Sheikh family, who would receive instructions by Abdul-Aziz. Members of this committee had no certain defined missions; at first, their authority covered supervision of all mosques, markets, streets, routes, and cities to make sure everyone adhered to the dress code and growing beards as per Sunnite Wahabi traditions. Yet, after the conquest of Hejaz, a region culturally open to the outside world, the committee had to lessen the number of its missions. Later on, this led to the emergence of the opposition movements against Abdul-Aziz, and he had to issue a royal decree in 1930 to include the committee to supervision panels of the police forces, while depriving its members from the power of arresting people; their mission was confined to report to the police about 'sinners'. Hence, their role turned into bureaucratic supervisory one, confined later on to urge people to perform prayers on time, s their previous missions were undertaken by Ministries of Health, Interior, Finance, Agriculture, Justice, etc. as well as municipalities (9). The marginalization of their role was linked to turning them into ordinary employees with certain missions that could not allow them to transgress their limits so as not to get fired. The same goes for the bodies of the Wahabi call, fatwas issuing, researches, guidance, etc. that became independent ones under the control of the king directly as well as the Prime Minister. Their additional mission was to confirm the spread of Wahabism inside the KSA and to spread it outside the KSA. Hence, no religious scholars had any voice within the opposition movements against King Saud, and even the Salafist opposition movement of Juhayman Al-Otaybi criticized harshly the scholars working in governmental entities and he used to call scholars of the Saudi authorities as scholars of certificates, who never dared to contradict the authorities and were eager to please the king instead of being loyal to the Wahabi call he adopted. Hence, opposition movements against King Saud never included clergymen, because they were busy vying with new competitors: the secular experts required by the Saudi state to help modernize and develop it.        

3-    Creating secular and civil competitors to Wahabi scholars: The reign of King Saud witnessed the emergence of civil, secular elite of experts of all specializations that vied with the religious elite in the field of being employed by the Saudi State. This civil, secular elite group emerged via the secular education that began formally in 1952 when Abdul-Aziz established the General Administration of Education in spite of the vehement opposition of the Wahabi scholars. This administration metamorphosed into the Ministry of Education in 1953, headed by Prince Fahd, with departments to train teachers in all fields and stages as well as sending brilliant students to study abroad in foreign universities. Two faculties of Sharia and Teachers were established in Mecca, and King Saud built schools for girls' education, as the education sector's expenditure reached 168.8 million SR in the fiscal year 1960:1961. In spite of the vehement opposition of the Wahabi scholars, girls' schools spread since 1960 after the Saudi State recognized the right of women to get educated in 1959. Universities for young women were built in 1960:1961, annexed at first to Riyadh University, and their number increased later on. In 1957, the King Saud University and the Abdul-Aziz University were built in Riyadh as well, including in later years faculties of petroleum and mining and so on. A new different generation graduated from such universities, differing a lot from the mentalities of their fathers and the traditional religious mindset. This generation found employment in all administrations of the Saudi State, playing a great role in modernizing the KSA, and many reached high positions and formed the secular elite that influenced the era of King Saud. Even secular ministers were appointed along with princes between 1954 and 1985, and their number increased in 1960 when King Saud appointed five ministers outside the royal family, including four who graduated from Cairo University, and the fifth one from Texas University who became the Oil Minister; all of them were in their thirties of age. Hence, secular ones had greater role in governmental posts, except in national guards and religious bodies. Competition grew fierce between Salafist/Wahabi clergymen and secular laymen in the field of State administration. Secular ones wanted to apply reforms and social, political, and economic developments, while clergymen wanted to assert the religious imprint in everything. King Saud was the one to strike a balance within such a conflict between the two trends so as to enable the KSA to preserve Wahabism and to cope with changing conditions and circumstances (10). Yet, policies of King Saud did not ameliorate the conditions of poorer classes. While the Wahabi/Salafist elite kept busy competing with the secular elite to retain interests and gains of scholars, opposition movements came from secular ones who were influenced with the socialist ideology who perceived the urgent need for reform to ameliorate the conditions of poorer classes.              

4-    Disregarding social reform and modernization of the infrastructure: Echoes of reform and modernization never reached dwellers of villages and desert Bedouins and tribesmen who were still living in the tedium of traditions, but some of them perceived the new changed and demanded to have their share of modernization. Some demands turned into opposition movements as many tribesmen felt they must take revenge from the Al-Saud family. This was what happened to Nasser Al-Saeed, who was born in Hael. Aramco company played a big role in modernizing the Saudi society via modern education. The very first primary school for teaching adults was built in 1940, and brilliant students sent abroad to get university degrees in Europe and the USA knew the signs of scientific advances and progress, and came back to the KSA filled with new ideas related to duties and rights of citizens (11). Aramco suffered because of such results, especially when Al-Saeed delivered a speech before King Saud in Hael School on 11th of Dec., 1953: (…In the Name of Almighty God, in the name of suffering workers, in the name of peasants who have fallen preys to usurers, in the name of scattered homeless Bedouins, and in the name of a great nation deprived of the light of knowledge for ages, may God grant you a long life, O Saud!…). We see here that Al-Saeed addresses King Saud as he was visiting Hael to make its people swear fealty to him, and he talked to him about the impecunious peasants, workers, and Bedouins, and he addressed the king thus: (…O Saud, did you take the trouble of this bumpy routes in order to enjoy your time or to make propaganda for yourself?…Within the hundreds of cities, villages, and desert areas, there are countless impoverished people begging for money…suffering poverty, illness, and the cursed ignorance…You could have travelled by a plane, but you chose the car, and I am inclined to think that you have come to see for yourself the suffering of your subjects…I presume that many cars of yours broke down in such bumpy roads…There are no paved routes, nor any remedies, cures, doctors, clear water, jobs, or even houses fit for humans…No doubt you spent your rest time in tents within every city you visited…including Hael, as you could not possibly reside in such poor houses of Hael…). This means that modernizing the KSA did not reach the vast majority of the subjects of King Saud who reigned from 1953 to 1964. Aramco that was part of furthering education and sending students abroad to learn and get university degrees had its scandals and was notorious for its dealings with workers. Raising awareness by education caused revolting workers to unite under the leadership of Al-Saeed, who said the following to King Saud about Aramco and the rebel workers: (…We, the workers, have been tortured and fired…Some of us have been imprisoned in groups behind barbed wires under scorching sun without food and water…When finally food was allowed to them, it was poisoned, O King Saud! 17 workers died of it and the rest were rescued by gastric lavage…The colonial company Aramco claimed that poisoning was not intentional, as kitchen cauldrons were not clean enough…This was not true…A Palestinian doctor asserted that poison was added and he can prove it by the samples he found…I can prove my assertions with evidence…) (12). In fact, Aramco was the axis of modernization, as oil revenues defined the Saudi policies outside and inside the KSA. Saudi oil represented to Gamal Abdul-Nasser as well as all socialists inside Egypt and inside the KSA as the center of American colonialism in the Middle East as oil made the KSA the focus of interest of the international community that influenced world events, shaped external policies of King Saud, and had its impact on socialist opposition movements inside the KSA.            

 

 

(D) Oil influence on the foreign policy of King Saud:

 

  We have given above an overview of the influence of Saudi oil (13) that led to stability enjoyed by King Saud to apply his internal and external policies especially his alliance with the USA. Yet, King Saud felt enmity and animosity with Egypt, after the Egyptian 1952 coup that metamorphosed into a full-fledged revolution and its leader, President Gamal Abdel-Nasser, who embraced socialism and joined the east camp declared his despise for King Saud. King Saud stood with the USA in the Cold War, and the Egyptian President stood with the USSR. Gamal Abdel-Nasser deepened enmity of King Saud as he quelled and imprisoned the terrorist MB members in Egypt, and most of the terrorist MB members fled to the KSA. Gamal Abdel-Nasser supported the opposition movement of Nasser Al-Saeed, whereas King Saud had nothing but to support the terrorist MB members who sought refuge in the KSA. We tackle below the Sunnite fundamentalist opposition movement of Al-Saeed that has a socialist tendency.

 

Footnotes:

 

1- Al-Yaseeni, ditto, pages 94 and 95.

2- Fouad Al-Ibrahimi, Arabian Peninsula Magazine, No. 16, May 1992, page 28.

3- Al-Yaseeni, ditto, pages 94 and 95.

4- Nasser Al-Saeed, ''Letter to King Saud''.

5- Nasser Al-Saeed, ''History of Al-Saud'', page 547.

6- ''The New Peninsula'' Newspaper, an article titled ''The Saudi State'', undated and with no address, a newspaper used to be issued by the Popular Democratic Party in 1970, in South Yemen.

7- Al-Yaseeni, ditto, pages 92, 93, 101, and 102.

8- Al-Yaseeni, ditto, pages 117, 119, 1120, and 121.

9- Al-Yaseeni, ditto, pages 104:109.

10- Al-Yaseeni, ditto, pages 123, 124, 153, 164, 165, 167, 169, 170, and 171.

Fouad Al-Ibrahimi, ditto, page 29.

11- Fouad Al-Ibrahimi, ditto, page 29.

12- Nasser Al-Saeed, ''History of Al-Saud'', pages 110:121.

13- Ahmed (Rifaat Sayed), "The Desert Saint", pages 19:23.

 

 

Secondly: the opposition movement of Nasser Al-Saeed: (his life – his struggle and demands – analysis of his ideological discourse within originality, contemporariness, and progressiveness – the influence of his opposition movement):

 

The life of Nasser Al-Saeed:

 

  Before the Egyptian 1952 coup-turned-revolution and the emergence of Gamal Abdul-Nasser, Al-Saeed emerged as an opponent of the royal family of Al-Saud, driven by two factors: his upbringing and his despicable working conditions. He was born in Hael one year after it was conquered by Abdul-Aziz, i.e., in 1923. The violent animosity and deep-seated hatred of the people of Hael toward Abdul-Aziz led the people to call children born after the fall of Hael as ''children of the fall''. Even Al-Saeed has mentioned in his writings that his family felt sad when he was born as if they did not want any newborns after the fall of Hael into the hands of its enemies. Thus, Al-Saeed was brought up in a climate that fostered the hatred of Al-Saud family. His grandmother, Hasna Al-Saeed, used to gather women every Thursday night to deliver speeches to them about hating Al-Saud family and to urge the congregation to supplicate God to make the KSA collapse one day. Al-Saeed has mentioned in his writings the victims among his family members who died while defending Hael against the Saudi conquest: Abdulla Al-Eissa Al-Saeed, Eissa Al-Saeed, Suleiman Al-Saeed, and Fahd Al-Saeed. He has mentioned in his writings that he entered the prison cell as a child with his grandmother, as she was punished because she refused to accept alms money sent to her by the governor of Hael, Mousaid Ibn Jalawy, via one of his servants. The old grandmother gave severe beatings to the servant and she was got arrested at once. Before people of Hael managed to urge the governor to set her free, the governor set her free only after he verbally abused her in public before gathered people, in 1930.      

 

The struggle of Nasser Al-Saeed:

 

  Within such climate of hatred, Al-Saeed was brought up and when he became a young man, he joined Aramco as one of its workers. Soon enough, Al-Saeed gathered around himself a group of rebel workers on 17th of Sept., 1947, to lead a demonstration, calling the day ''the Palestine Day'', in the city of Raheema, protesting the division of Palestine and demanding that the KSA would stop giving oil to the USA and GB. The Prince Turki readily tried to calm down the workers who joined the march, urging them to return to their work, and when Al-Saeed refused, the Prince had all of them arrested and carried to Saud Ibn Jalawy, governor of Al-Ahsa, who set them all free later on. In the same year, 1947, Aramco issued a legal statute of to regulate work and workers, giving work permits and prohibits founding syndicates or workers' unions. Al-Saeed formed in 1952 a committee that represented workers to demand their rights. Members of that committee were arrested but were set free because the rest of workers went on a strike in Oct., 1952, to protest the arrest of the committee. Aramco suffered great losses as a result, and after setting the committee members free, Al-Saeed was banished to Hael. He returned to work in 1953 when workers pressed Aramco. Soon enough, Al-Saeed led the biggest strike led by the committee members that managed to convince 6500 workers in Al-Dhahran city to go on a strike, demanding more social services, salaries raise, and the right to form a syndicate. They submitted a request to the Crown Prince, but he rejected their demands, ordered the arrest of Al-Saeed and the committee members, and formed a fact-finding committee to investigate the matter. The arrest of Al-Saeed among others led 13000 Aramco workers to go on a strike in Al-Dhahran and other cities, declaring that they would die for their rights. The Saudi authorities had to send armed forced in the Easter Region. The Crown Prince ordered workers to return to work, threatening those who disobey that they would get fired. Workers ignored his threats, and he ordered the arrest of some of them, but had to revoke his orders, and he ordered the release of Al-Saeed and all the arrested workers from Al-Ahsa prison, after forcing Al-Saeed to sign a paper to assert that he would not leave Hael. Aramco had to introduce reform; it gave workers financial aid for food and clothes, build a school for sons of workers, lessened the working hours, and formed a committee to receive all complaints of workers to deliver them to the management. Meanwhile, Al-Saeed in Hael knew that Abdul-Aziz died and that King Saud was heading to Hael among other regions to make people swear fealty to him, and he delivered a speech about demands of the people that infuriated King Saud to the extent that he wanted to have him killed, but had to reconsider such an idea. Later on, Aramco workers forced the company to have Al-Saeed again as worker, who caused more trouble as usual. In 1956, Al-Saeed adopted an embraced Nasserism and socialism of Egypt, and he managed to convince workers to go on a strike to call for political demands of reform. King Saud arrested Al-Saeed and some other leaders of that strike, issuing a royal decree on 11th of June, 1956, that incriminated all types of strikes, on the pain of imprisonment. King Saud secretly planned to have Al-Saeed murdered, but one of the royal guards, a friend of Al-Saeed, warned Al-Saeed, who fled hastily to Beirut, Lebanon, and then to Damascus, Syria. Since his flight from the KSA, Al-Saeed remained a vociferous critic and opponent of the KSA and its royal family from outside, issuing and publishing statements and inciting sedition and rebellion. He formed a body he called ''Union of the People of Arabia'' with a Nasserist, Islamic tendency. After Syria broke its union with Egypt in 1961, Al-Saeed was chased by the Saudis and the Syrians, and he left Damascus to Beirut and then to Cairo, where he supervised the radio program ''Sound of Arab Nation'', which was anti-KSA and anti-separatists in Syria, and this program attacked the regressive Gulf monarchs. Another radio program of Al-Saeed in 1962 was titled ''Enemies of God'', which was anti-KSA. When the Yemen revolution broke out in 1962, Al-Saeed moved to Yemen, where he opened an office of opposition and supervised a radio program named ''Supporters of Satan''. He led as well the armed struggle within Yemeni borders. His political activism abruptly stopped after the 1967 war, as he was chased away from place to another when Abdel-Nasser and King Feisal normalized relations between Egypt and the KSA. Al-Saeed had to move secretly between Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya. After King Feisal was assassinated, his successor, King Khaled, issued a general pardon of all political and opposition figures self-exiled to avoid the Saudi prisons, and all such figures returned home to the KSA with the exception of Al-Saeed. When troubles stirred again in the oil-rich Eastern region in November 1977 and Juhayman Al-Otaybi occupied the Kaaba Mosque in the same year, Al-Saeed left his home in Damascus and went to Beirut to attack the KSA in the media, newspapers, and news agencies. Al-Saeed 'disappeared' suddenly and was seen for the last time on 7th Dec., 1977, and his end remains mysterious (14), but some rumors spread about some Palestinian factions in Beirut kidnaping him and sending him to the KSA, where he was tortured and put to death.                                  

 

Footnotes:

About Nasser Al-Saeed and his life

14- Nasser Al-Saeed, ''History of Al-Saud'', pages 97, 98, 99, 104, 105, and 716:720.

Ahmed (Sayed Rifaat), ditto, pages 48:88.

Al-Yaseeni, ditto, pages 178:180 and 190.

 

 

The demands of Nasser Al-Saeed:

 

 Demands that Al-Saeed struggled to attain were included in the speech he delivered to King Saud, mentioned in his book titled ''History of Al-Saud'' (15). Al-Saeed later on explained his demands in detail within a letter he sent to King Saud in 1958 from Cairo. His demands were as follows.

1) The establishment of a free parliament or a people's assembly that would represent the nation.

2) After parliamentary elections, members of this parliament would formulate a modern constitution based on the Quran and the Sunna and the soul of justice derived from the Quran, including the rights of the nation, specifying the missions of the judiciary, legislative, and executive authorities.  

3) The parliament must issue laws to stop slavery and its trade in the KSA, and preventing cutting off of hands and legs as well as flogging of citizens, while asserting freedom of the press, religious freedom, freedom of expression, and freedom of holding meetings and gatherings. Laws should be issued about obligatory education for males and female in the KSA, with obligatory military service. Torture in prisons must be banned, and no one should have the right to annul the Saudi nationality from any citizen. Zakat alms and money must not be collected from the poor among peasants and Bedouins. Other laws must be issued related to amelioration of working conditions and to ensure workers' rights, with the right to allow them to form unions and syndicates to voice their demands to the Saudi government, while annulling the unjust statutes of Aramco. Courts of workers' cases must be formed, while Saudi workers must be made on equal footing with foreign ones, especially American ones, with laws preventing firing workers for no reason, while giving them paid holidays. Other laws must be issued related to amelioration of the despicable conditions of peasants by applying agricultural reforms, lowering customs, taxes, and fees, and introducing economic reforms. The parliament must issue laws related to facing the authority of Aramco and the USA, like the one about banning the building of American military bases in the KSA, and to annul the royal decree no. 223/2/2639 issued in 1357 A.H. about giving Aramco leeway to control workers and commit injustices against them, while forcing Aramco to pay compensations for its workers and victims.        

4) Legislative reforms must be followed with social and economic reforms for the sake of workers and to modernize the rudimentary regions in the KSA; paved routes must be built to ease transportation, workers must have clean, healthy housing, and heavy industries of mining should be introduced to male Bedouins work in them, as they represent 60% of the Saudi population. Peasants require an elevated standard of living and the State must care for their agriculture and protect their produce against greedy usurers, Agricultural banks must be established to give the peasants loans and guidance and to import machines and agricultural experts for them. All Bedouin lands must be reclaimed and distribute among them to turn them into peasants. All workers unjustly fired must return to their work in Aramco.     

5) Al-Saeed within such above-mentioned demands urged the human development of Saudi citizens to civilize all society, especially Bedouins via education and work and dignity. That was why he urged the education of all girls and to make military service obligatory to make all citizens be able to defend their homeland as a religious and national duty, and he insisted that Prophet Muhammad urged the education of all Muslims, males and females. He repeats in his letter that education curricula and programs must reach all regions in the KSA with removal of all obstacles, while sending more students to study abroad in all fields and establishing girls' schools. He demanded the raising of the cultural and social awareness among policemen, while urging the education of prisoners to cultivate and refine them. He demanded the immediate release of the political prisoners who must retrieve their jobs and be compensated along with families of those killed in prisons, and all this would lead to human development.   

6) Human development is linked to legislative, social, political, and economic reforms and to combating corruption caused by the American colonialism and its agents inside the KSA, as per words of Al-Saeed. He urged the ban of what he called espionage bureaus of the USA in the KSA that spied on the Saudi citizens and army, as such bureaus were run by the American agents and Saudi agents working for the USA against their nation. Al-Saeed mentions their names and locations, and he demanded the expatriation of Pakistanis and other foreigners he called ''enemies of Arabs'' employed by Aramco. Al-Saeed links ending corruption to preserving wealth of the Saudi citizens and making budgets of expenditures and revenues well known to the people in order to build more new projects and cities in the KSA. Al-Saeed urged to put an end to royal extravagance for carnal lusts and appetites, building sumptuous palaces, and importing luxurious items like fancy cars and apparatuses etc., in order to allot more money for charity instead of gifts, bribes, commissions, royal journeys abroad, where the royal family members would spend millions without restraints. Within another part of his letter, Al-Saeed demands the removing of all traitors, spies, mercenaries, ignoramuses, and thieves from all governmental posts as they stole money of the Saudi nation, and they must be fired regardless of their being relatives of Al-Saud, and their ill-gotten money confiscated to be returned to the Saudi treasury for the sake of all citizens and workers who request facilities and other services. Such sums of money will solve problems of the needy, the beggars, and the handicapped who could not work, especially those who had their hands and legs cut off as well as victims of floods and fires. Thus, Al-Saeed demanded the annulment of the committee, managed by Al-Sheikh family, for ''the promotion of virtue and the prevention of vice'' as such committee did not do their sharia duties; rather, they serve Al-Saud royal family in controlling and restricting freedoms of citizens; this influence exerted by Al-Sheikh family was deemed by Al-Saeed as religious tyranny shamefully and falsely attributed to Islam which was manipulated and misused to serve their purposes and to harm the Saudi citizens. For Al-Saeed, this committee ''promoted vice and prevented virtue'', and its members should be distributed to other jobs to serve the people as the Saudi citizens did not need guidance from corrupt groups.                   

7) Of course, disbanding the committee for ''the promotion of virtue and the prevention of vice'' was linked to secular reforms and vision of Al-Saeed related to education of women and girls and the annulment of slavery and the stop of corporal punishments of flogging, etc. At the time, there were about 600.000 male and female slaves inside the KSA. Another demand of Al-Saeed was religious freedom for Shiites to perform their rituals as fellow equal citizens, as hateful sectarianism must be banned. This was linked to notions of Al-Saeed about freedom of thought and expression, especially in his demands to release of all political prisoners. He even urged that persons of the committee for ''the promotion of virtue and the prevention of vice'' should be given other useful jobs, so as not to remain jobless; their rights included being employed elsewhere.      

8) Al-Saeed did not concentrate only on internal reforms; rather, he focused as well on reforms concerning the external policies of the KSA; he demanded that the KSA must end its dependency on the USA by embracing positive neutrality and joining the caravan of Arab liberation led by Gamal Adel-Nasser. Al-Saeed demanded that the KSA must not meddle in the affairs of other countries and to avoid the cursed principle of Eisenhower, the USA president, and that the KSA must have the right to deal with other countries in terms of the political and economic aspects, such as the USSR, China, and all counties in the communist camp, regardless of its ruling regimes, while preserving the sovereignty and independence of the KSA.    

 

Footnotes:

 

15- Nasser Al-Saeed, ''History of Al-Saud'', pages 110:121.

 

Analysis of the ideological discourse of Nasser Al-Saeed: a general overview of his writings:

 

  Al-Saeed in his book titled ''History of Al-Saud'' adopts a unilateral vision that saw no good at all in the history of the royal family, and we could not quote his views on Abdul-Aziz unless when other historians share the same items. We have noticed how Al-Saeed was partial and biased and was not very honest in interpreting and narrating many historical events. The discourse of Al-Saeed was oratory and pompous, filled with verbal abuse and coarse language; his book seemed to be a long letter of anti-Al-Saud propaganda. He used to mention all names of people involved in any event within his personal history an relations with them, and no evidence is found to give credit to all of his assertions about his contemporaries. Thus, readers may believe or disbelieve in such assertions, and this applies to his discourse in general and to his speech delivered to King Saud that resulted in strikes and rebellions in Aramco that had to satisfy its workers. Yet, a 1960s Hollywood movie was produced about such workers' revolts, starring Yul Brynner. This means that Al-Saeed forced his presence in the history of the KSA in the 1950s and the 1960s as a combatant who suffered exile because of his views until his mysterious disappearance in Beirut during the movement of Juhayman Al-Otaybi. Regardless of our reserve about his book about written in the form of semi-autobiography, we tend to think that his demands of reform were natural, just, and truthful, not merely because he suffered incarceration, exile, torture, and being put to death because of his views, but also because of his adherence to his stances and faithful to his principles while others deserted all their demands to return to the KSA and made peace with the Saudi authorities when King Khaled issued a general pardon for them after King Feisal was assassinated.           

 

Analysis of the ideological discourse of Nasser Al-Saeed within originality, contemporariness, and progressiveness:

 

  Originality of Al-Saeed is embodied in the fact that he derived his intellectual and political visions from a traditional view of Islam and the so-called Sunna away from Wahabi extremism. Thus, his fundamentalism, in the roots of his thought in taking from traditions what suited his age, was coupled with contemporariness of outside ideas of the cultural climate of his age. His religious innovative thinking was unprecedented at the time and even secular ones in the KSA never came out with such visions. Let us focus below on that topic in detail.  

 

Religious fundamentalism in the vision of Nasser Al-Saeed:

 

  The fundamentalist aspect of Al-Saeed is exemplified in his discourse, diction, not only in religious innovative thinking. His way of addressing King Saud in Hael shows this; he addressed him using his name without honorifics, justifying his attitude using religious reasons: (…O Saud Ibn Abdul-Aziz, allow me to use your name without any royal honorifics, unpleasant to God the Only Eternal King, Who dislikes injustice to people…). This was a new way to address kings, making Al-Saeed seemed crazy or so bold as to deserve to die by orders of a brutal, unjust king. He was right to think that honorifics and glorification are for God alone. In his address, Al-Saeed quotes many Quranic verses and many of the so-called hadiths and purported history of Muhammad and some pre-Umayyad caliphs, in order to assert his political demands and reformatory vision. For instance, when he talked about abolition of slavery in the KSA, we see he never resorted to Wahabi jurisprudence and ancient scholars views on the subject: (…The parliament to be elected must abolish slavery, for it is a shameful crime no longer exists in free countries, may God grant you long life, O Saud!…). Al-Saeed quoted the Quran to warn King Saud against consequences of injustice: "…those who perish would perish by clear evidence, and those who survive would survive by clear evidence…" (8:42). "And that the human being attains only what he strives for. And that his efforts will be witnessed. Then he will be rewarded for it the fullest reward." (53:39-41). "…and peace be upon him who follows guidance." (20:47). This last verse used frequently by Sunnites to warn and preach, and Al-Saeed used stories of the prophets in the Quran as well as history of previous reformers to warn King Saud against injustice, and how kings in history who used religions in a bad way lost everything eventually. Al-Saeed asserted that Islam has nothing to do with injustices perpetrated in its name, asserting Islamic Shura (consultation) principle and that Islam seems to favor republics and not kingdoms as a rule/regime, and he criticized the affluence, extravagance, and the luxurious lifestyle of the royal family, quoting the events of asceticism of earliest caliphs. Al-Saeed boldly said that the Saudi cooperation with the USA was a betrayal against the Saudi nation and against Islam, and he quoted hadiths and verses calling for justice and equality of both genders and all citizens, urging not to make creeds interfere in political games. Thus, Al-Saeed presented innovative religious reasoning and notions though he was a socialist and civil thinker in the first place. This unprecedented way of thinking never came from clergymen of Wahabism who worshipped ancestors and ancient books and tomes of the past centuries. They never realized that the modern, new age brought new conditions and circumstances that entailed new and innovative religious thinking. Thus, the Saudi authorities had to employ civil and secular employees and experts in all sectors as we have explained earlier. This proves that scholars could no longer cope with modern problems in the judicial system, educational system, etc. Hence, Al-Saeed, an ordinary Muslim, managed to perceive the higher values of the Quranic sharia, especially justice, the Supreme values in the Quran, and used them to judge circumstances and conditions of his society, urging a peaceful change or reform to ameliorate such despicable conditions of the impecunious and the wronged ones. Thus, Al-Saeed was flexible enough in his mental framework by inking Islam to socialism, within a vision to improve the lives of the Saudi lower classes that suffered ignorance, illnesses, poverty, and injustice. By the way, Al-Saeed never quoted Ibn Abdul-Wahab, Ibn Taymiyya, or Ibn Hanbal; on the contrary, he refused such Wahabi ideology, especially related to corporeal punishments for the poor, never applied to the filthily rich big thieves. This was against the Islamic justice asserted by tens of Quranic verses and the so-called biography of Prophet Muhammad. Thus, Al-Saeed did not delve deep into the labyrinth of Sunnite jurisprudence typical of the Middle Ages; rather, he linked his socialist call for justice to Islamic value of justice and charity, advocated by all prophets of God, and he asserted that this must be the basis of the KSA constitution to be written later on as soon as possible. Prophets of God, as per views of Al-Saeed, were messengers of justice, freedom, and higher values and principles; real religiousness must lead to justice on all levels. With the final words of his addressing King Saud, we read the following as he wish a better future for the KSA: (…The Saudi paradise of the near future must be about prosperity for all, justice for all, freedom for all, and work for all, under the supreme value of justice…Injustice will lead to the collapse of the KSA…The crime of cutting off hands and legs is done to poor workers and peasants as well as the homeless and the jobless, who are hungry and impecunious…ironically, such Quranic punishments fit for the filthily rich ones who are thieves turned into governors, rulers, and high officials…). Hence, Al-Saeed was against the misuse of the Quranic sharia laws: (…And flogging as a punishment must be stopped and so is torture in prisons…Prisons must be turned into schools to rectify the prisoners, who received fair trials in courts, to allow them to be good citizens in the future). At the same time, Al-Saeed urged not to take alms and zakat from the poor and impecunious among villagers and Bedouins who could not face corruptions. Al-Saeed called for equal treatment of foreign workers and Saudi workers inside the KSA if they had the same job and rank. Thus, Al-Saeed took into his consideration the reality and real-life facts, with a vision aiming for a better future based on freedom, dignity, and equality, and justice, and that was why he urged recruiting women into the army like men and to educate all women and girls, so as to allow them to defend their homeland. Realistic views of Al-Saeed included his call for the abolition of the committee for ''the promotion of virtue and the prevention of vice'' as it appeared to be useless and lost its purpose and it began to restrict citizens for no reason. The vice that must be fought was affluence, extravagance, and luxurious living of the royal family as well as slavery, injustices, and corruption, while virtue that must be promoted was to curb the USA and Aramco from crushing Saudi dignity by its agents and spies and to introduce reforms on all levels within Islamic higher values found in the Quran. As for wealth and revolts, we give two examples of political and religious issues Al-Saeed dealt with within creative, innovative thinking under the topic of wealth and revolts. Did Al-Saeed propose armed rebellion to change Saudi regime by force? Or did he want to do this via a peaceful call? Did Al-Saeed propose within socialism to distribute oil wealth within a Red Revolt typical of the cultural climate at the time? Let us begin with his views about armed rebellions; when he got out of prison to find King Saud coming to Hael to make its people, haters of Al-Saud royal family, swear fealty to him, and while some obsequious hypocrites did so while celebrating the coming of the new king to them, he boldly faced the new king with demands and requests of the nation, and he writes in his book that King Saud was infuriated and left Hael while asserting that celebrations of Hael were good except that Al-Saeed got on his nerves. Al-Saeed dared to tell him that his reign would never be a happy one unless he would apply justice and reforms on all levels so that the people would give him legitimacy and trust, not mere swearing of fealty done out of fear or bought with money and gifts like some master buying slaves: (…Trust is given by people to a ruler in accordance with good manners and history of the ruler worthy of trust as well as the belief of the ruler in higher human values, especially justice, brought by prophets of God…). Al-Saeed enumerated then in his delivered speech the demands of the nation that included citizens ruling themselves by themselves within Shura councils or in the parliament, based on the declaration of human rights, as rulers must not let down or betray their citizens. In his letter later on addressed to King Saud, criticizing his external and internal policies and demanding constitutional rule of a king leaving most of responsibilities to a chosen Prime Minister and his government, within a freely elected parliament, Al-Saeed reminds the king of his speech addressed to him in Hael, urging him to apply all the proposed ideas. Hence, Al-Saeed never called for armed revolt or rebellion to change the Saudi regime by force, despite his suffering in Saudi prison cells and his exile and feelings of being chased and threatened from one Arab capital to the other. He insisted all his life on the peaceful nature of his call and demands to change the Saudi regime for the better to make it more democratic and just within peaceful means. Hence, he never called for removing the Al-Saud family from the throne. Al-Saeed wanted fealty to be transformed into trust and love given by the people to their rulers, so as to make people the source of power and authority by choosing themselves their rulers as per their faith, morals, ethics, and belief in the supreme values mentioned above. This was a great Islamic innovative thinking derived from the Quran by Al-Saeed, as he saw Islamic Shura (consultation) ordered by God to Muhammad: "It is by of grace from God that you were gentle with them. Had you been harsh, hardhearted, they would have dispersed from around you. So pardon them, and ask forgiveness for them, and consult them in the conduct of affairs. And when you make a decision, put your trust in God; God loves the trusting." (3:159). Hence, people of Yathreb were the source of power and authority of Muhammad as their ruler who helped him to reengage into self-defense wars against the Qorayish aggressors and persecutors. "And He, God, united their hearts. Had you spent everything on earth, you would not have united their hearts, but God united them together. He is Mighty and Wise." (8:63). Hence, Al-Saeed and his vision of Islamic Shura principle drew the attention of a true, often-forgotten Islamic fact overlooked by all Wahabi scholars, asserting that Islam is against monarchy and for republic system of people choosing their rulers and representatives in the parliament, with the ability to question and hold responsible anyone within equality of people in duties and rights; it is against Islam to make one family confiscates all power, wealth, and authority without the nation sharing some of them as well. Hence, Al-Saeed rejected the notion of using force or armed resistance; he called for a white revolution to change peacefully everything for the better: (…the ailments of poverty, ignorance, illnesses, and injustices must be cured by a revolution, and we demand from you, O Saud, to undertake this revolution…). Hence, he wanted the king to remain enthroned but to undertake the necessary reforms on all levels. This was his notion of a revolution for the sake of the people that would make the KSA paradise on earth with equal distribution of wealth and justice for all. Al-Saeed quoted many religious texts to prove that Islam is against affluence and extravagance and injustices, and that it was no longer possible for a king to treat the treasury as his own personal money and his subjects as his own property. Al-Saeed wanted to purify governmental offices and sectors from big thieves whose ill-gotten money must be retrieved to the treasury of the State to serve people. That was why Al-Saeed hated Aramco as a colonial arm of the USA to deceive the Saudi people and steal their wealth while persecuting workers. Al-Saeed reminded King Saud that the poor had to have their equal share of the money of the treasury as per Quranic teachings; see 17:26, 8:141, 30:38, 51:19, 4:5, and 70:24-25. Hence, Al-Saeed for us appears as a Sunnite fundamentalist figure with an enlightened vision that combined Islamic originality and contemporary viewpoints as well. Of course, contemporariness had the lion's share in his discourse, and it colored his reading of the Quran and the fundamentalist Sunnite views.  

 

 

 

Contemporariness in the discourse of Nasser Al-Saeed:

 

 The reign of King Saud was marked with trends of nationalism, communism, socialism, and Nasserism, especially that Egypt was the center of such cultural climate in the Arab world within the period 1955:1966. Al-Saeed coped with such trends within his innovative, creative Islamic vision of his enlightened mind, as he saw no contradiction between his religious Sunnite fundamentalism and his tendency toward socialism. He was biased toward workers, peasants, Bedouins, and the poor, persecuted ones in general and against affluence, extravagance and injustices, and thus, this suited his Islamic vision as well with no contradictions with socialist tendencies at all. Of course, within his discourse, radio programs, and writings, Al-Saeed used a style that appealed to the emotional response of hearers/readers within nationalistic vision addressed to the Saudi citizens, as we have read about his telling King Saud about the poisoning of workers of Aramco. That was why he was incarcerated many times during his struggle against Aramco, and the company tried to bribe him with a high-salary post, but he refused of course, and he refused before to take 500 SR as a gift before he would deliver his speech before King Saud within the Hael celebrations of his coming to it. Al-Saeed asserted his surprise at these sums given to hypocrites and flatterers, and he insisted that speeches, demands, and requests of people are not bought and sold, but executed and applied. He writes that he used to spend his salary on the workers' movement and would eat whatever workers gave him. Let us remember that Al-Saeed began his speech delivered to King Saud in a way combining his tendency to socialism and his religious nature. His diction of using terms like ''our Arabia'', ''our people'', ''our nation'', ''our country'', and ''our people'' asserts the notion that people are the source of power and authority of any rulers. He avoided using terms such as: ''the KSA'', ''the Saudis'', and ''the Saudi state'' as he disliked the notion of a royal family owning the lands and its inhabitants. Al-Saeed disliked very much the notion of one family confiscating power, wealth, and authority, and preserving for itself the right of annulling the nationality of any citizens. Al-Saeed believed in equal rights of all citizens, males or females, within the definition of citizenry, and that was why he called Shiites of Al-Ahsa his fellow citizens and brethren, in his demanding religious freedom for all and to abolish the hated sectarianism. Thus, Al-Saeed was a pioneer in Arabia in calling for citizenry rights and equality that transcends differences in creeds, tribes, and doctrines, and hence his asserting of the peaceful nature of his call. Despite his outspoken hatred of Al-Saud family in his book, he still considered the family members as part of the nation; he loathed the notion of civil wars and internecine strife, despite the cultural climate at the time that was filled with bloody revolutions, coups, military conflicts, etc. under banners of liberation from colonialism, imperialism, and regressive powers. Al-Saeed resented the fact that the USA built military bases in Saudi soil to serve American purposes, but he aimed at a white revolution led by King Saud himself, as he told him in his letter from Cairo and his earlier speech delivered in Hael. Al-Saeed took pride that Arabia is the cradle of Arabism and Islam, as he intertwined his nationalist feelings with Sunnite fundamentalism, as did Gamal Abdel-Nasser in Egypt. It is noteworthy that Al-Saeed preceded Abdel-Nasser in solidarity with Palestinians. In Cairo, Al-Saeed used to talk about ''our Arab nation'', and he supported Gamal Abdel-Nasser and the 1952 coup-turned-revolution that advocated socialism and Pan-Arabism and criticized regressive powers. It is noteworthy that Al-Saeed praised his grandmother imprisoned for her defiance and hatred of Al-Saud that she never accepted regressive people and never took money or financial aid from them, and thus, she was better than the stances of the Arab League in fighting colonial regressive powers (16). Within his Nasserism and Pan-Arabism, Al-Saeed hated Aramco ant its agents, especially Pakistanis, and he called the KSA to cut all relations with the capitalist USA and to turn to the communist, Eastern camp led by the USSR. This was akin to the fundamentalist Sunnite call of allying oneself to friends and to declare enmity toward foes. His call to King Saud to lead a white revolution stemmed from such Sunnite notion.                                       

 

Progressiveness in the discourse of Nasser Al-Saeed:

 

  What is meant by progressiveness here is that Al-Saeed preceded people of his age in Arabia and in all Arab countries, especially in the mindset of Wahabi scholars, in his innovative, creative thinking within Islam, as he introduced notions that need to be built upon and discussed, and in the call for the culture of citizenry. Arabs and Muslims until now suffer from the problems of the minorities of ethnic, religious, racial, and cultural groups. Al-Saeed preceded even the Pan-Arabism of Abdel-Nasser by calling the KSA to break with the USA and its monopoly. Al-Saeed called for human rights that were applied two decades after his death, in his call to abolish slavery from the KSA and to annul corporeal punishments as well as reforming prisons and to release political prisoners, while preserving the value of justice and dignity with all prisoners and to stop torturing prisoners. We read how Al-Saeed called for the political and religious freedoms as well as freedom of speech and expression in the media and especially the press. We assert certain points in his pioneer call for human rights:        

1- Al-Saeed preceded the dominant climate in the KSA at the time in his call for the abolition of slavery; there were at the time 600000 male and female slaves in the KSA.

2- Al-Saeed preceded everyone in linking human rights to Islamic tenets and facts in the Quran, as per his views on corporal punishments. Until now (2000 A.D.), Saudi authorities are challenged by human rights societies in that respect. We discern the genius of Al-Saeed when we compare his notions to that of Dr. Al-Masaary, the Sunnite Saudi man who emerged 20 years after the mysterious disappearance of Al-Saeed. Dr. Al-Masaary, as well as his friends, speaks about human rights but denies it regarding his foes in creed, doctrine, and culture, rejecting certain human rights that do not go with Wahabi/Salafist mentality.    

3- Arab cultural elite members focus on the rights of the cultural elite persons in terms of freedom of speech, thought, creed, and political participation – only if they were among those on the right of the ruling regime and authority. Arab cultural elite Leftist members, on the other hand, focus on amelioration of social and economic conditions and circumstances as the main human rights. Some other groups focus on rights of women and minorities. All this happens now in 2000-2001, in the 21st century, and all groups vie in receiving financial aid from the West to their organizations or societies, whereas Al-Saeed who preceded them all never gained anything but  being exiled, afraid, chased, hunted down, imprisoned, tortured, and killed. Al-Saeed was a real pioneer of drawing a complete, brief plan to apply human rights on all levels within the culture of citizenry and enlightened Islamic thought.     

 

Footnotes:

 

16- Nasser Al-Saeed, ''History of Al-Saud'', pages 14, 19, 101, and 108.

 

The influence of the opposition movement of Nasser Al-Saeed:

 

  The early beginnings of the struggle of Al-Saeed in Aramco and the consequent strikes and then his struggle inside and outside the KSA and forming an alliance with Gamal Abdel-Nasser made Al-Saeed stir the stagnant pools and influence others within three aspects as we detail below.

 

Firstly: the emergence of various types of opposition movements:

 

Military opposition movement:

  Abdul-Rahman Al-Shamarany was a friend of Al-Saeed and supported his movement, and they got to know each other in 1957, and he was the one to notify Al-Saeed that King Saud planned to have him murdered, and Al-Saeed fled to Beirut. Al-Shamarany, one of the royal gourds in the KSA, confided to Al-Saeed that his rebellious nature was stirred when Palestine was lost and by impoverished citizens in the KSA, who were a majority. Other factors influencing Al-Shamarany were his meeting with leaders of the 1952 coup in Egypt, the Free Officers, and his personal meeting with Gamal Abdel-Nasser, as Al-Shamarany was the link between King Saud and the Egyptian President at the time. Al-Shamarany mentioned that he complained to Gamal Abdel-Nasser the despicable conditions of Saudi citizens, and the Egyptian President told him that there was no time to weep; the matter required much work and organization. Years later, Al-Shamarany organized rebel groups and was discovered and killed in 1958. Several officers and pilots were arrested at the time, accused of being members of a plot to assassinate King Saud. In 1962, six Saudi officers were arrested, accused of contacting the Free Princes, who were residing at the time in Cairo. Another plot to dethrone King Saud was discovered in 1969, and over 100 military figures were arrested.        

 

The 'Free Princes' movement:

 

  Al-Saeed mentions in his book that several princes of the royal family were influenced by his speech delivered to King Saud in Hael, and Prince Muhammad Ibn Abdul-Aziz declared his support for Al-Saeed to the people of Hael, and Al-Saeed was encouraged to visit this prince in his palace, along with other princes gathered to hear Al-Saeed.  The Prince asked Al-Saeed to give him a report of the demands of the people and the army, and Al-Saeed did just that and kept a copy of the report to himself. The Prince promised Al-Saeed to deliver this report to King Saud, supporting it as much as he could to urge the King to apply recommendations of the report. Yet, Al-Saeed writes that those dreamy princes were seeking propaganda; those ''Free Princes'' were seeking to amuse themselves with sweet talk to appear as sympathizers with citizens and nationalists. Al-Saeed narrates that he met with the Prince Abdullah Feisal, the Interior Minister, and the Prince condemned the injustices done to workers of Aramco, urging Al-Saeed and his fellow workers to bend to the storm until his father, Feisal, would be enthroned as king. Strangely, Abdullah Feisal urged Al-Saeed and his men to try to assassinate King Saud! The Prince gave Al-Saeed the book written by Philby, telling him that a revolution was inevitable, but revolting men should differentiate between traitors and national ones like Feisal and his son Abdullah; this was their problem. Al-Saeed narrates also that he met with Prince Sultan, the Defense Minister, to give him a report of the demands of Aramco workers. In a car, Prince Sultan noticed the vast difference between places of princes and huts of the impoverished as something un-Islamic at all, and he gave moral support to Al-Saeed, telling him that King Saud would accuse any caller for justice of communism. When Al-Saeed urged Prince Sultan to make any reform himself, the latter told him that he could do nothing, as he was an ordinary man like Al-Saeed. Prince Sultan confided to Al-Saeed that he was blacklisted and nicknamed the Red Prince, as King Saud accused him of being a communist, and thus, he could not help Al-Saeed against Aramco. Hence, Al-Saeed considered the so-called Free Princes as a ploy or a way to kill time for their own pleasure. If we would believe Al-Saeed in that claim, we would conclude that Nasserism negatively influenced the Saudi throne and royal family; thus, the so-called Free Princes took precautions by claiming their support for socialism, as they feared the near future; their sweet words were empty ones to Al-Saeed. One of the so-called Free Princes told Al-Saeed once that the only solution to save the homeland was to cut off the heads of the royal family! Finally, Al-Saeed writes the following about the so-called Free Princes: (…They sought empty propaganda to be spread by the naïve citizens who would easily buy sweet, empty words about freedom, democracy, etc., as words were corrupt goods consumed by the dreamy impecunious ones to help them to have patience when they would hear sweet talk of the apparently sympathetic princes…). Al-Saeed asserts that Al-Saud family had no positive points at all; he ignored Prince Talal who headed the so-called Free Princes who were four princes that demanded in 1962 a constitution be written by a legislative council. The Prime Minister, Prince Feisal, refused such demand and tendered his resignation. King Saud appointed himself as a Prime Minister and made Prince Talal the Finance Minister, and others of the so-called Free Princes assumed other posts. King Saud had tensions with the so-called Free Princes who demanded a constitution to be written and pressed upon it. When Prince Talal criticized King Saud in public, he was fired from his ministerial post, and other of the so-called Free Princes tendered their resignation. Prince Talal gave up his title as a prince in 1966 and resided in Cairo, where Al-Saeed resided at the time as well. Prince Talal formed in Cairo a ''committee for the liberation of the KSA'' that never posed any real danger or threat to the Saudi regime, as it had no certain ideology or popularity anywhere. When Nasserism dwindled after the defeat of Egypt in the 1967 war, Prince Talal regained his title and returned to the KSA.         

 

Opposition movements of the Leftist and nationalist activists (i.e., communists and Baathists):

 

  The influence of Al-Saeed in the emergence of Leftist opposition movements in the KSA is undeniable, even of some of them were partially influenced by Leftist and nationalist revolts in Yemen, Iraq, and the Levant. Yet, Al-Saeed was the one to pave the way since the late 1940s and vociferously in the 1950s, and others followed his example inside the KSA. As for Baathists, they controlled Iraq and Syria and tried to spread their influence to Arabia. In 1958, a Saudi branch of the Baath Party was established, to be the biggest group of opposition in 1963. When Syrian and Iraqi Baathists separated in mid-1960s, most Saudi members tendered their resignation, and the rest joined either the Syrian or the Iraqi Baathists. Those supporting the Iraqi Baathists lived in Iraq, issuing a magazine called ''Saut Al-Taleea'' in 1978, influential among Saudis studying in the USA and Europe. They published booklets and studies that criticized Al-Saud royal family, without adopting a certain ideology. Those supporting the Syrian Baathists lived in Damascus, issuing a magazine called ''Saut Al-Jazeera Al-Arabia'' that voiced views of nationalists. As for the Popular Democratic Party, it was established in 1970, with Marxists and nationalists as its members, and it aimed at armed struggle to free the KSA and later on the Arab world from regressive powers; they modeled the thought school of Mao Zedong. This Party had its main headquarters in South Yemen, issuing a newspaper called ''Al-Jazeera Al-Jadida'', which was smuggled inside the KSA. Despite its radicalism, the Popular Democratic Party was disintegrated, and some former members formed the Popular Struggle Front in 1971, issuing a magazine called ''Al-Nidal'', and the Front had no other activities beyond this. The Popular Democratic Party was succeeded by another smaller party adopting Stalin-Lenin ideology. Another opposition movement called the Saudi Council for Peace and Solidarity was established, which issued a statement in 1977 in a local newspaper, asserting that King Fahd never achieved what he promised to do (i.e., writing a constitution, establishing a Shura Council, workers' syndicates, and a democratic liberal government, releasing some political prisoners, and nationalizing Saudi oil) after the assassination of King Feisal in 1975, and that King Fahd arrested more people and liquidated opposition figures in 1977. Another opposition movement called the National Liberation Front emerged in 1956 that included some communists and workers, but workers left it to form the National Reform Front. Communists aimed at hanging all features of life in the KSA to establish a regime that would reflect interests of the people, including writing a constitution that would assert democracy, workers' rights, and all political rights. Another aim was the struggle against imperialism, Zionism, regressive powers, American military bases, unjust military treaties, and unjust foreign concessions. Another aim was forming relations with the USSR and all socialist and communist countries. By 1975, the Front was re-christened ''The Saudi Arab Communist Party'', and it posed no threat at all to the Saudi authorities. Finally, the Leftist opposition movements deteriorated and dissolved; when King Khaled declared a general pardon after the assassination of King Feisal, he welcomed al exiled political figures to come back to their homeland. Most of them accepted and hurried back to swear allegiance to the Saudi regime and fealty to King Fahd. Many of them grew rich via working in investments, thus joining the manipulative, oppressive classes. Some of them denied their past communist history and persecuted workers under them until the Saudi authorities interfered! Some historians explain such return to the KSA and regression in thought instead of going on with struggle in exile with one reason: bad conditions of life in exile after the dwindling of Nasserism and Leftist ideologies, and their salaries as political asylees were meager, in the time when Saudi standard of living was raised. Communism fell out of favor and the extremist Right wings took over in many Arab countries. Of course, those political asylees could not give up luxurious life in air-conditioned hotels in exile during the apogee of the Leftist ideology in the 1950s and the 1960s; hence, when Nasserism ended, the Saudi and Wahabi influence gained momentum all over the Arab world, and they had better seize the chance of general pardon of King Fahd to return to the KSA and declare their ''repentance'' (17). It is noteworthy that there was a vast difference between the Wahabi Najd Brothers' opposition in the 1920s and that of leftists and nationalists in the 1950s and 1970s, except for Nasser Al-Saeed as a unique, prominent case; the Najd Brothers used to throw themselves into the embraces of death in hope of going to Paradise, as a way to get rid of the abject poverty and their despicable conditions, and thus, they raised arms against Abdul-Aziz while not caring to preserve their own lives. As for the next generations of affluent leftists and nationalists, they fled the KSA to serve other Arab tyrannical regimes not better than the Saudi tyranny, allowing themselves to be manipulated by such regimes against their foe: the KSA. Hence, when the support of such regimes lessened, such leftists and nationalists readily went back home to the KSA, forsaking all previous principles. The only one who kept loyal to his stances and principles was Al-Saeed; as he refused to return to the KSA and went on being outspoken and vociferous in his criticism of the Saudi regime in rare courage, without recklessness typical of the Najd Brothers, uniquely coupled with peaceful ideology and Islamic higher value of justice.                                            

 

Secondly: the second influence of the opposition movement of Nasser Al-Saeed: King Saud dethroned and some reforms demanded by Nasser Al-Saeed took place:

 

 The Saudi royal family felt the urgent need to avoid any popular discontent or revolt by transferring the executive powers of King Saud to Crown Prince Feisal (who became later King Feisal) in 1985, but King Saud retrieved such powers in 1960, while keeping the authority of the Crown Prince as it was. Later on, King Saud was dethroned and King Feisal was enthroned in 1964, and the latter had declared earlier in 1962 his reform program which was influenced by views of Al-Saeed, as Feisal said the following: (…This reform aims at establishing a unified system based on the sharia principles…And the Constitution will be imposed and written in accordance with the Quran, Sunna, and wisdom of earlier caliphs and Sunnite good ones among our ancestors, with clear points declared in relation with the basic principles of ruling and the relation between rulers and the people…). The points declared by King Feisal included the following: the Saudi State will follow Islamic sharia laws, a Constitution will be written and a Shura Council be formed, regional governments will be established all over the kingdom, the judicial system will be independent within an independent Ministry of Justice and a supreme judicial council comprising 20 secular members, media will be made Islamic with a focus on the Islamic call, reforms will be applied to the committee for ''the promotion of virtue and the prevention of vice'', introducing social solidarity to achieve welfare of citizens  by controlling prices, financial aid will be specified to build more schools and for caring for students, social care and security will be reinforced, a working statute will be formulated to protect workers' rights, jobless ones will be trained and employed later on, new laws will be issued to promote investments, slavery will be abolished, and infrastructure will be improved (18). Of course, oil revenues allowed for the implementation of some of such promises by King Feisal, and Al-Saeed felt happy to see some of his demands realized while in his exile, despite the fact that attempts on his life never ceased. He lived to see King Saud dethroned and forced to seek asylum in Cairo, Egypt, to die there in 1969. Al-Saeed lived to see King Feisal assassinated in 1975, and went on in his writings and radio programs as well as issuing written statements, until he heard of the violent movement of Juhayman Al-Otaybi who occupied the Kaaba Mosque in 1979, and Al-Saeed had to get out of his hiding place to head to Beirut to voice his views on such wrong step, but as we have mentioned earlier, he disappeared in Beirut mysteriously.  

 

Thirdly: the last influence of the opposition movement of Nasser Al-Saeed:

 

  Before the mysterious end of Nasser Al-Saeed, he helped create the conditions that led to the emergence of Juhayman Al-Otaybi, as the Saudi authorities persecuted all Leftist and communist opposition movements, enlisting the aid of the Salafist/Wahabi trend. Thus, the balance between the Salafist and secular trends was lost, especially when Sadat, the Egyptian president, allied himself to King Feisal, and the terrorist MB exerted a strong influence all over Egypt and the Middle East. When the Salafist/Wahabi trend grew stronger, opposition movements sprang off it like that of Juhayman Al-Otaybi and Dr. Al-Masaary. This was the last influence of the opposition movement of Nasser Al-Saeed. The coming chapters will show the Salafist/Wahabi opposition movements of Juhayman Al-Otaybi and Dr. Al-Masaary.

 

 

Footnotes:

About other opposition movements:

17- Nasser Al-Saeed, ''History of Al-Saud'', pages 122, 123, 544, 547, 649, and 682:685.

Ahmed (Rifaat Sayed), ditto, pages 41:49, 58, 61, and 95.

Al-Yaseeni, ditto, pages 132 and 144:192.

18- Al-Yaseeni, ditto, pages 96, 165:167, and 174.


 

The Wahabi Opposition Movements in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the Twentieth Century
The Wahabi Opposition Movements in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the Twentieth Century

Authored by: Dr. Ahmed Subhy Mansour
26th of June, 2001
Cairo, Egypt
Translated by: Ahmed Fathy

ABOUT THIS BOOK:

We publish here the complete book titled "The Wahabi Opposition Movements in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the Twentieth Century", after writing it previously in a series of successive articles before on our website. We authored this book in 2001, and it is published here online after omitting an introductory chapter about Wahabism and its origins and roots; we have omitted this chapter because it repeats what we have written in hundreds of articles about Wahabism, Salafism, and the Sunnite Ibn Hanbal doctrine. We have decided to confine this book to the rest of this research, whose details are summarized in the new introduction, and we consider this research or book as adopting a neutral historical viewpoint of events. Parts of this book have been published before separate
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فيديو مختار
د. أحمد صبحى منصور: لحظات قرآنية 447 : يسعون فى القرآن معاجزين