Jeffrey Rudolph writes in a guest column for Informed Comment
Saudi Arabia, an Islamic absolute monarchy, has enjoyed extremely close relations with the United States, a constitutional republic. This relationship highlights the gross hypocrisy of US foreign policy: fundamentalism and dictatorship in the Arab world is only condemned when it comes garbed in anti-Americanism. In fact, Saudi Arabia makes Iran—the target of sanctions and regime change by the US for over 30 years—look relatively progressive.
The US and Saudi governments have had a clear long-term agreement. The Saudis agree to supply oil in accordance with US needs and to reinvest the resulting revenue in US assets and arms. In return, the US provides protection to the Royal family regardless of its internal repression and extremist ideology. While mutually beneficial, this compact is also the source of one of Saudi Arabia’s great contradictions: The Saudi kings depend for their security on a country widely reviled in the Arab world as Israel’s protector.
Contradictions run deep in Saudi Arabia. Attempts at domestic reform have been confronted with state-sponsored extremist preachers—in fact, Saudi kings have, on occasion used their power to protect “progressives” from harsh Saudi judges. While in the foreign policy realm, uneven state support of confrontational policies concerning Iran have been coupled with attempts to moderate US belligerence in Iraq and Palestine.
The following quiz is an attempt to supplement the rather shallow coverage of Saudi Arabia provided in the mainstream media.
The Saudi Arabia Quiz
1. Which Middle-East country has been the US’s oldest ally in the region?
2. Who stated the following in 1945?: “I’m sorry, gentlemen, but I have to answer to hundreds of thousands who are anxious for the success of Zionism. I do not have hundreds of thousands of Arabs among my constituents.”
3. What was Saudi Arabia’s military expenditures for 2009 (in US dollars)? What was Israel’s?
4. Why, despite spending billions on military equipment, is the Saudi state unable to defend itself?
5. Which country is the largest provider of crude oil to the US?
6. Who wrote the following in 1956?: "Arabia is a country that contains the holy places of the Moslem world, and the Saudi Arabians are considered to be the most deeply religious of all the Arab groups. Consequently, the King could be built up, possibly, as a spiritual leader. Once this were accomplished, we might begin to urge his right to political leadership."
7. True or False: In the early 1960s, a group of Saudi princes flew to Cairo and called for constitutional democracy for Saudi Arabia.
8. What event led to Saudi Arabia and other Arab oil-producing countries imposing an oil embargo on the US and Europe in the early 1970s?
9. What three events in 1979 greatly affected Saudi Arabia’s domestic and foreign policies?
10. Why did Osama Bin Laden, who had been in sync with Saudi state policy in the 1980s, turn against the Saudi government?
11. Jihadi manuals, used by the mujahideen in Afghanistan and elsewhere, were produced in the early 1980s by which country?
12. Which three countries were the first to officially recognize the Taliban government in Afghanistan?
13. When the Taliban took power, who said he saw "nothing objectionable" in their plans to impose strict Islamic law?
14. From the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 to 2007, what percentage of known suicide-bombers in Iraq were of Saudi origin? Iranian origin?
15. How many Wahhabi suicide bombers had there been before 1980?
16. True or False: Saudi Arabia was instrumental in putting forward a comprehensive peace plan with Israel—that was formally adopted by the entire Arab League—that offered Israel full recognition and normal relations.
17. What was the unemployment rate in Saudi Arabia in 2010?
18. Which is the only Muslim-majority state to forbid the building of churches?
19. Who wrote the following about a conversation he had with Saudi King Faisal at a state dinner?: "[The King informed me that] Jews and Communists were working…together, to undermine the civilized world as we knew it. Oblivious to my [Jewish] ancestry—or delicately putting me into a special category—Faisal insisted that an end be put once and for all to the dual conspiracy of Jews and Communists. The Middle East outpost of that plot was the State of Israel, put there by Bolshevism for the principal purpose of dividing America from the Arabs."
20. True or False: A popular satirical TV comedy show, on the air in Saudi Arabia for many years, pokes fun at the flaws of Saudi society by dealing with sensitive topics such as terrorism, marital relations and religion.
21. What is the Shia population of the oil-rich Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia?
Jeffrey Rudolph, a college professor, was the Quebec representative of the East Timor Alert Network, and presented a paper on its behalf at the United Nations. He has prepared widely-distributed quizzes on Israel-Palestine, Iran, Hamas, and Terrorism which can be found, respectively, at: http://www.countercurrents.
; and, http://www.countercurrents.
(Comments or questions concerning the quizzes should be emailed to: Israel-Palestine-Quiz@live.com