Sunday, June 16, 2019

How America Funds Islamic Terrorism

                                                                                                  written 9 June 2019
                                                                                             published 16 June 2019

            After WWI, France and England divided up the Arabian Peninsula, which had been controlled by the Ottoman Empire for several centuries. Neither country wanted to occupy any part of the region, but supported individual tribal leaders to act as their agents.  One of those chosen was Ibn Saud, who went on to defeat local rivals, consolidate territory, and form the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932.  Eight years later, vast oil reserves were discovered in eastern reaches of the country.  These fields were brought into production by American oil companies a few years later as WWII began, generating enormous wealth for the Saud ruling family.
            Shortly after the prophet Muhammad died in 632, a dispute over succession split Islam into two denominations, Sunni and Shia. Both revere the Quran as the literal words of the prophet, but there are differences in the interpretation, which have led to violent conflict over time, much like the Catholic/Protestant division.  Approximately 85% of the world's Muslims are Sunni, but Shia are majority in Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon.  Saudi Arabia and Iran are the current leaders of their respective denominations, and the religious dispute is played out in their geopolitics.
            Two centuries ago, an ultra-conservative Sunni preacher formed Wahhabism, with very narrow, inflexible interpretations of Islam, and aligned himself with the Saud family for mutual political gain.  As the Saud family gained power and wealth, so did Wahhabism.  After WWII, oil revenues helped spread the message throughout the Islamic world using books, media, schools, universities and mosques.  Like other rigid religious fundamentalists, Wahhabism has no tolerance for other religious belief, and is particularly harsh with regard to Shia Islam, which it regards as heretical.  Within Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism controls the education, law, and public morality courts, in exchange for ignoring the flagrant disregard of these mores by the ruling family.  
            When American domestic oil production peaked in 1972, control of the price of oil shifted to Saudi Arabia. A year later came the first oil boycott against the US for supporting Israel during the Yom Kippur war, which quadrupled the price of oil.  To get oil flowing again, America made a deal to supply economic aid, modern weapons, and military training.  In return, Saudi Arabia would demand that oil be sold in dollars alone, giving the US an enormous economic advantage, and those dollars were deposited in American banks.
            Although Saudi Arabian oil wealth continued to grow, it was unevenly distributed within the country.  Currently, the Royal family is estimated to contain 15,000 people, with a total net worth of over $1 trillion, ruling a country of 32 million people with a per capita worth of $21K.  Popular discontent at this inequity is controlled within Saudi Arabia by the Wahhabist religious structure, but outrage has exploded into action around the world in the form of terrorism against the western economies, particularly American, that fund this arrangement.  The majority of Islamic terrorist groups in the world are Sunni, inspired and funded by Wahhabism with Saudi oil money.  The five deadliest are all Sunni: Al Qaeda, ISIS, Taliban, Al-Shabaab, and Boko Haram. 
            America's addiction to oil caused us to align ourselves with Saudi Arabia decades ago, and we continue to pay a huge price for that alignment.  With no stake in the Sunni/Shia schism ourselves, we automatically take the Sunni side in the conflict with Iran.  Ignoring Saudi Wahhabist cultivation of terrorists, we vilify Iran as a "terrorist" state.  We recently sold the Saudi's advanced weapons worth $7 billion and Trump is giving them nuclear technology, while sanctioning Iran for its own nuclear development. Our weapons kill children in the Sunni/Shia conflict in Yemen, and even though Congress voted to end involvement in that war, it continues to this day.
            While we are loath to think of America terrorizing parts of the world, we should at least take a look at what our "allies" are doing with our blessing.  Not only do we lose moral standing with the rest of the world, but these attacks kill Americans as well.  Surely there is more to our country than exporting weapons and endless war in exchange for oil, which is changing the climate and killing our children's future.