Saudi Arabia Recent History

Founding of the state

On the Arabian Peninsula existed in the first millennium. V. Independent empires. The political unification of the Arab tribes in the 7th century under the sign of Islam was short-lived. It was not until the 18th century that Mohammed Ibn Saud († 1765) and his son Abd al-Asis I († 1803), in close connection with the Islamic reform movement of the Wahhabis in the interior of the Arabian Peninsula, created a state (capital since 1821 Riyadh), the temporarily extended beyond its area of ​​origin, the Nedjd landscape. On behalf of the Ottoman sultan Mahmud II. After several years of fighting, Egyptian troops smashed the first Wahhabi state in 1818. During the 19th century, the Saud dynasty (Saudites) lost their dominion in battle with their rivals; the Shammar Bedouins conquered Riyadh in 1884 and expelled the Saudites from there (exile in Kuwait since 1891). In 1902 Ibn Saud recaptured Riyadh from the Shammar and expanded – initially in dependence on the Ottoman Empire – his territory as Emir of the Nedjd and Imam of the Wahhabis on the Arabian Peninsula (1913 annexation of Hasa area; 1915 recognition of independence by Great Britain).

After conquering the emirate of Hail the Shammar (1921/22) and the kingdom of Hidjas (1924, occupation of Mecca), he was proclaimed king in 1926 (recognized by Great Britain in 1927) and proclaimed the kingdom of Saudi Arabia on September 23, 1932 . To provide external security, the new state concluded friendship treaties with Transjordan (1933), Yemen (1934, renewed in 1937; among other things, contractual regulation of the affiliation of Asir), Iraq (1936) and Egypt (1936). Ibn Saudand his successors, who in the meantime bore the ruler’s title of “guardian of the two holy places”, sought to combine the state and social order, which was characterized by a strict Sunni interpretation of Islam, with an intensive modernization of the economic infrastructure. The ruler and his extensive family determined the political development. The growing exploitation of oil reserves made the country one of the richest countries in the Middle East. By granting oil production concessions (1933) to the Standard Oil Company of California, later the Arabian American Oil Company (abbreviation ARAMCO), the rulers achieved high profits, which also benefited the state budget (e.g. expansion of the transport and school system, irrigation system). Towards the end of the During the Second World War, Saudi Arabia joined the Allies in the war against Germany (February 28, 1945) and Japan (March 1, 1945). It participated in the establishment of the Arab League. In the 1st Arab-Israeli War (Palestine War, 1948–49), Saudi Arabia remained neutral.

Power factor in the Middle East

After the death of Ibn Saud, his son Saud (Ibn Abd al-Asis; * 1902, † 1969) ascended the throne in 1953. With his lavish lifestyle he came into domestic political rivalry with his brother, Crown Prince Feisal (Ibn Abd al-Asis Ibn Saud), who from 1962 onwards pushed him more and more into the background and finally ousted him (1964). As king, Feisal opened Saudi Arabia carefully to the western lifestyle (close cooperation with the USA) without loosening the autocratic form of rule, and carried out (especially in the Yemeni civil war, still an opponent of G. Abd el-Nasser) after the Six Day War (June 1967) rapprochement with Egypt (Treaty of Khartoum, August 1967; balance of different interests in the Yemeni civil war). Especially since the 1970s, as a country located in Middle East according to Countryaah, Saudi Arabia has been able to enforce its hegemony claims in the Middle East against other Arab states – but also against Iran – and at the same time adopted common positions with them in the dispute with Israel. In terms of economic policy, the state endeavored to gain ever larger shares in ARAMCO (until it was completely taken over in 1980). Together with the other oil-producing Arab states, Saudi Arabia used oil exports as a weapon against the states of Europe and the USA, which are considered to be Israel-friendly,

After Feisal’s assassination (1975), Saudi Arabia rose under Khalid (Ibn Abd al-Asis Ibn Saud) to become one of the financially strongest powers in the world and was able to increase its international influence. In the Middle East conflict it rejected the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty (1979; Camp David), but looked for ways to resolve the conflict itself: In 1981, Crown Prince Fahd presented a peace plan. At the same time, the ruling house had to react to oppositional external and internal influences. In November 1979 radical Islamic forces occupied the Kaaba with messianic thesesand could only be removed by force. The Shiite population in the east of the country came under the influence of the fundamentalist Islamic revolutionin Iran (1979).

In order to protect itself against the risk of overturning in foreign policy, Saudi Arabia and other Arab states founded the Gulf Council in 1981. In the 1st  Gulf War, Saudi Arabia, which has been producing armaments v. a. Received from France, Great Britain and the USA, Iraq (1980-88) against Iran. In July 1987 and 1988, triggered by Iranian pilgrims, serious unrest and increased tensions with Iran occurred during the pilgrimages in Mecca. In 1988, Saudi Arabia agreed to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty. In the 2nd Gulf War in 1991, Saudi Arabia was Iraq’s main enemy.

The negotiations that began in 1995 between Saudi Arabia and Yemen to settle the open border issues (including in the Asir region, based on the renunciation of what was then Yemen in favor of Saudi Arabia in the Taif Treaty of May 20, 1934) could only be concluded on June 13, 1934. To be concluded in 2000 with the signature of a border agreement; Saudi Arabia and Qatar had already settled their border disputes bilaterally in 1999. The relationship between Saudi Arabia and Iran eased from 1998/99 (including the cooperation agreement of April 2001).

Saudi Arabia Recent History