A Counter-Revolutionary State: Popular Movements and the Making of Saudi Arabia

A Counter-Revolutionary State: Popular Movements and the Making of Saudi Arabia I INTRODUCTION Abdulaziz ibn Muammar was a leftist activist, intellectual and bureaucrat from Saudi Arabia. Born into privilege in 1919 in Iraq, he studied in Cairo and Beirut before taking a job in 1948 as a translator in the office of Saudi Arabia’s first king. His father, Ibrahim, had presided over the same office in the years preceding the founding of the kingdom in 1932, when he was a political adviser to Abdulaziz ibn Saud. Ibrahim also held several high-ranking positions in the fledgling bureaucracy, playing a crucial role in the formation of the Saudi Arabian state.1 It was therefore not surprising that his son should follow in his footsteps. Like his father, ibn Muammar was loyal to the first king and then to his son, Saud, who acceded to the throne in 1953. However, having come of age at the height of the anti-colonial struggle in Palestine, he was shaped by the popular politics of the time and began to oppose the very foundations on which the monarchy was built. MAP View largeDownload slide From CIA, The World Fact Book (1 Jan. 2000), <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AArabia_Saudi_political.jpg> (accessed 5 September 2017). MAP View largeDownload slide From CIA, The World Fact Book (1 Jan. 2000), <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AArabia_Saudi_political.jpg> (accessed 5 September 2017). Despite ibn Muammar’s progressive political beliefs, King Saud charged him with leading an investigation into working conditions at the Arabian American Oil Company (Aramco) following a mass strike there in 1953. His new assignment took him to the oil-rich Eastern Province, where he met like-minded Saudis. Within months he had joined forces with prominent leftists such as Ishaq al-Shaykh Yacoub and Muhammad al-Hoshan, and formed, with them, one of the earliest leftist nationalist organizations in the country, the National Reform Front (Jabhat al-Islah al-Watani). The Front censured Aramco and economic imperialism, calling for constitutional democracy, freedom of expression, the formation of civil institutions and the development of national industry. Nevertheless, Saud followed ibn Muammar’s recommendations and set up the Work and Workers’ Office, a neutral body commissioned with safeguarding the rights of workers. Ignoring Aramco’s objections, he appointed ibn Muammar its first president, from which position the young bureaucrat and other Saudi leftists he had engaged fought the oil company and its discriminatory practices.2 However, on the basis of charges fabricated against him by Aramco, ibn Muammar spent nine months in prison on the orders of Crown Prince Faisal.3 Upon his release in February 1956, he resumed his activism with the National Reform Front. Like other newly formed political organizations in Saudi Arabia, the Front was radicalized by the increasing repression its members faced,4 and by 1958 it had adopted a more obviously communist orientation. Some members left to join more radical political organizations or to start competing ones, but ibn Muammar remained with the Front. Despite his political stance, ibn Muammar became a close confidant of King Saud and was appointed a political adviser to the royal court, demonstrating the king’s ambivalence about supporting radical politics on the one hand and maintaining his authoritarian hold on power on the other. Along with other leftists within the regime, ibn Muammar influenced state policies, including the adoption of a constitution in 1960. This was a major blow to Crown Prince Faisal, who worked indefatigably to disempower Saud’s advisers and the radical leftist mobilizations that were gathering force during his reign. Faisal was not alone: Aramco, the Eisenhower administration and powerful members of the ruling family were united in their opposition to the direction being taken by Saudi Arabia under King Saud. They saw it as threatening their various interests and those of the political and economic order they favoured,5 and worked together to crush these popular movements and to constrain the dialectic of radicalism that was gaining momentum in one of the major front lines of the Cold War. They shut down secular political life, elided these events in Saudi and US historiographies, and projected themselves as leading agents of modernization.6 Faisal was therefore able to consolidate a politically reactionary, religiously conservative, authoritarian monarchy. Thus, the Saudi state form with which we are familiar today, and which we associate with Islamic fundamentalism, was not always an inevitability. As in other Arab states like Egypt and Iraq, it was shaped and supported by local regimes with CIA backing in the context of the Cold War. It was a calculated response to leftist and other opposition movements that threatened the status quo. Thereafter, popular struggle became increasingly religious in nature and took a less confrontational approach, until the Iranian Revolution and the seizure of the Grand Mosque in Mecca in 1979, and the subsequent war in Afghanistan. Popular political life and the nature of political rule have been mutually constitutive since the emergence of the Saudi state. Any attempt to disentangle the ways in which the one has shaped the other reveals the permeability between the state and society, which are often assumed to be distinct in authoritarian states.7 Such an attempt also admits a more nuanced understanding of socio-political life and, importantly, of the politicization of religion in the kingdom. This reading challenges the conventional periodization of twentieth-century Middle East history while putting forward an alternative genealogy of radical Islamist movements. While religion has shaped politics to varying degrees, it has by no means been the underpinning of political identity in the Middle East since the early modern period.8 On the other hand, political Islam was not simply a reaction to the humiliating defeat of the Arabs in the Arab–Israeli War in 1967 and the attendant disillusionment with secular politics, as much of the literature claims.9 Rather, local regimes and their supporters in the United States actively mobilized political Islam during the Cold War to crush leftist movements, with 1979 being a turning point in this contentious modern history, whose roots date back to the late Ottoman empire. We often associate Saudi Arabia with radical Islam rather than with radical leftist politics, but the political trajectories of Abdulaziz ibn Muammar and others like him who espoused various, and at times competing, progressive politics point to the centrality of leftist movements and ideological struggles in the making of the state. They reveal a complex, multidimensional social history that has been flattened, obscured and repurposed in the service of monarchy and imperialism. This article captures this complexity by historicizing the forces, ideologies and solidarities that shaped Saudi subjects and their political sociabilities in the early decades of state formation. Competing visions of the political future deeply influenced Saudis from different socio-economic classes and often divided them, creating fissures within both the ruling classes and society at large. In many ways, then, ibn Muammar’s history is unremarkable. It echoes that of so many other Saudis who risked life and limb to change the nature of political authority within their country and who, like him, became caught up in the power struggle between Saud and Faisal. Some were ordinary citizens with no connection to the regime or the ruling family. Others worked within the bureaucracy or belonged to the ruling family itself. Together and separately they participated at the popular and institutional levels in the divisive politics of the Cold War. They confronted local, national, regional and global powers, and challenged authoritarianism and imperialism. Important as Islam was culturally, it had not yet occupied as central a role in shaping political identity. The Islamist groups of the mid twentieth century simply did not gain traction or popularity until the 1970s, during Faisal’s rule.10 If radical popular mobilizations were at the forefront of Saudi state formation and Cold War politics, as this article argues, they also constituted a formative yet under-studied episode in the history of the so-called Arab Left, and the Left more broadly. Indeed, Saudi Arabia was not a backwater whose people were apolitical or isolated from global trends.11 Like other new states in Asia and Africa, it was part of an economy of political activism and state–society struggles that preceded the mass production of petroleum in the late 1940s and began to accelerate thereafter. The country witnessed its share of oppositional politics, which culminated in the radical movements of the mid twentieth century. Many exiled Saudi leftists kept up their political resistance from abroad, where they also contributed to local progressive struggles. As recent literature has finally started to show, however, the kingdom was not simply linked to transnational political and intellectual networks;12 it was also a source of progressive politics in its own right. At a time when the global war between progressive and reactionary forces was at its height, popular mobilizations in Saudi Arabia were unsettling one of the most powerful unions between international capital, Euro-American imperialism and monarchical authoritarianism. Through their struggles and writings Saudi leftists shaped socio-political life and contributed to leftist nationalist politics. Yet scholarship on the left continues to sideline the radical mobilizations in Saudi Arabia,13 even while paying lip-service to their significance.14 The same is true of Saudi historiography, of which very little critically examines leftist politics. Those works that do, often address radical movements tangentially, without analysing the influence they had on politics or history.15 The rare study that attempts to do so, critically singles out the influence of foreigners in politicizing Saudi workers in the Aramco labour strike in 1953, as if these supposed exceptional events emerged in a socio-political vacuum.16 These depictions portray Saudis as apolitical at best and gullible at worst, and gloss over the ways in which the kingdom furthered leftist politics and was at the forefront in the fight against conservatism. The clandestine nature of political groups in Saudi Arabia and the inability to access many of the documents from the 1950s in Saudi, Egyptian and US archives have compounded the difficulty of writing the social history of Saudi Arabia. They have also complicated our ability to gauge the scale and range of popular political participation. But Saudi newspapers, novels, prison memoirs, private archives and oral history interviews offer a window into the prevalence of leftist ideologies among the people of Saudi Arabia. Along with the circulation of political pamphlets and newspapers and the jailing of thousands of Saudi political prisoners, these sources tell a story of popular political struggle and not simply an elite intellectual one. The popularity of these movements is also evident in the lengths to which the United States went to ensure that the Saudi government both crushed them and remained within the US sphere of influence during the Cold War, which culminated in Faisal toppling his brother Saud in 1964. Unearthing the silenced archives of the Saudi Left is as important for resurrecting this lost history as it is for countering Saudi ideological hegemony. It indicates that, far from being a revolutionary Islamic state, as some officials have argued since the Arab uprisings in 2011,17 Saudi Arabia is a counter-revolutionary state par excellence, and was consolidated as such after closing down progressive political life in the 1960s. II POLITICIZING THE MASSES IN THE EARLY SAUDI STATE Political, social, cultural and technological developments from the late nineteenth century produced the conditions for the emergence of radical political sociabilities in Arabia. It was the transregional networks of knowledge production (educational institutions, print media, and radio and television broadcasting), and the regional and global mobility of the inhabitants of Arabia — all of which intensified during the oil era following the Second World War — that were instrumental in this. Early on, the shift from indirect to direct Ottoman rule and the emergence of mass politics in the late Ottoman empire transformed the socio-political landscape in the Arabian Peninsula.18 As a result, political concepts such as modern constitutionalism, nationalism, political rights and even revolution increasingly reached the shores of the peninsula not long after they began to circulate in the rest of the Middle East.19 The concomitant increase in mobility in the late nineteenth century only furthered these transformations, accelerating the exchange of people, political ideas and knowledge between Ottoman Arabia and the rest of the world. It also enabled Muslim rebels and intellectuals fighting European colonialism in India, Afghanistan, Syria and elsewhere to seek refuge in the sanctuary cities of Mecca and Medina. Once there, these political exiles shared their experiences of anti-colonial struggle through public and private lectures. Some, like the renowned anti-colonial religious scholar Sayyid Muhammad Rahmatullah al-Kairanawi and, later on, his pupil Shaykh Abd al-Haqq Qari, set up schools funded by wealthy Indian Muslims.20 Soon after, well-to-do locals followed suit. The pearl merchant Hajj Muhammad Ali Zaynal, for instance, opened al-Falah School in Jeddah in 1905 and in Mecca in 1912, with other branches opening in Bombay, Dubai and Bahrain.21 It was in these institutions that locals and pilgrims from various socio-economic classes became more politicized. While education in Arabia was not modernized until the mid twentieth century, these early institutions nonetheless politicized students and graduated many leaders and members of Arabia’s future political movements. By the turn of the twentieth century, people in Arabia regularly interacted with traders, intellectuals, religious scholars and pilgrims who travelled to and from South Asia and other parts of the Middle East and relayed stories of political struggle. They also became especially attuned to the literature of the so-called Arab Renaissance (al-Nahda) and the works of secular and religious anti-colonial intellectuals such as Shakib Arslan, Khayr al-Din al-Zirikli and Rashid Rida.22 Many became involved in anti-imperial activism, like Imam Hasan Ali al-Badr from Qatif, who called for armed struggle against Al Saud (the house of Saud) in 1913 and later fought the British in the Iraqi Revolt of 1920.23 Although the end of the caliphate in 1924 and the entrenchment of French and British colonialism reified the idea of the nation state across the Middle East, notions of Arab belonging increasingly gained salience. The establishment of the Saudi state did not erase these early networks of knowledge production or people’s political sociabilities. Like citizens elsewhere, inhabitants of Arabia held on to political, social and economic aspirations derived from their experience of modernity, the post-Ottoman state system, early twentieth-century socio-political developments and increased access to education at home and abroad. The formation of the Saudi state therefore heightened people’s political aspirations even as it heralded new state–society relations. During Al Saud’s years of conquest (1902–32), these relations necessitated Bedouin sedentarization and religious socialization. Thereafter, they rested on pacifying and co-opting the very sedentary tribes and religious forces that had enabled the rise to power of Al Saud.24 But the state’s new socialization mechanisms and disciplinary forces failed to control many of the peninsula’s diverse populations. Where Al Saud had managed by 1932 to consolidate their empire-cum-state territorially, they were far from doing so politically, culturally or economically. Indeed, the new state was opposed by a majority of its inhabitants.25 It was one among multiple possible political formations that British imperial orchestration had blocked.26 As a matter of fact, the unpopular Al Saud chieftains could not have sustained their state-building project without British military, intelligence and financial support. The establishment of the state thus triggered political resistance and competing visions of the nation and relations between state and society. It also heightened regionalism and particularistic identities in the Hejaz in the west, Asir in the south, the Eastern Province and various pockets in the central region of Nejd itself. Developments in the kingdom’s neighbouring states only expanded Saudis’ political imaginaries, and historical ties with people in Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, Iran and India continued to inform their aspirations long after the formation of the Saudi state.27 Just as struggles over state-building prevailed in the Middle East following the First World War,28 resistance to Al Saud’s monopoly over power was a constant marker in the political landscape. In almost every decade since 1932, Al Saud has had to deal with all forms of opposition, from armed tribal revolts and regional opposition movements to urban rebels and attempted military coups. One of the earliest and most notable of these movements was the armed revolution of Hamid ibn Rafadha in 1932.29 The leader of the Bala tribe, ibn Rafadha, met Tahir al-Dabbagh, one of the founding leaders of the Hejazi opposition political party the Free Hejazi Party (Hizb al-Ahrar al-Hijaziyyin), when the latter was in Egypt setting up a party branch there.30 They both opposed what they saw as the Saudi occupation of the Hejaz and agreed to launch a revolution against Abdulaziz ibn Saud on 20 May 1932. The party had forged strong ties with the governments of Egypt, Yemen, Iraq and Transjordan and was able to secure their support. British colonial intelligence, however, intercepted the plan and took all measures to thwart it.31 They blocked the rebels’ movement through Transjordan and Palestine, both of which were under British mandate, and launched an attack against the Hejazi rebels, arresting many among their ranks and completely disarming the movement. After the rebellion of ibn Rafadha, reliance on imperial support, first British and then American, to fight subsequent internal threats became a hallmark of Saudi rule. The experience of the British colonialists with counter-insurgency and mass repression, as well as the communications infrastructure they had in place, were central to maintaining Al Saud in power. The ruling family also proceeded to build its own institutions and legal regimes in order to prevent the emergence of mass politics and to crush any form of political organizing, tribal or otherwise. In pursuit of this, the family co-opted many of the tribes into the armed forces of the state, rudimentary as they still were, at once to pacify them and to use them to protect the rulers. It quickly learned to contain various threats through regular financial tributes, employment in the security branches of the state, coercion, imprisonment and public executions.32 Most opposition members had witnessed these violent counter-revolutionary measures at first hand and recognized the extent to which the British were willing to go to maintain Al Saud’s rule. Some gave up their activism, took up government positions, and embarked on building the state’s early institutions. These included many notables and intellectuals from the west coast of Arabia, the Hejaz, who under Ottoman rule had acquired the bureaucratic skills needed for the construction of the new Saudi state. Others continued their political struggle but adjusted their political organizing and strategies to account for the imperial support the regime received. While those who had mobilized against the nascent ruling family realized the extremes to which the British had gone to safeguard the reign of Al Saud, they were also quick to understand how their US successors were carrying on this activity. Saudi Arabia’s strategic location in the war against Japan and Germany was not lost on the US government, which saw that the ‘most crucial phase of the war will take place in the near East’.33 The need to build an airbase in Saudi Arabia for Second World War purposes (and not access to oil) was the primary concern of the Roosevelt administration after 1943 and animated the president’s meeting with King Abdulaziz ibn Saud in 1945.34 The US government decided to support Abdulaziz, seeing him as the most important Arab and Muslim leader, who could persuade other rulers to side with the Allies in the war. So it was that in 1944 the US War Department made a formal request to build a base in Dhahran, which Abdulaziz granted.35 Although the base was non-operational until after the war had ended because of British resistance to US encroachment, it continued to play a central, if contentious, role in US–Saudi relations. The beginning of the Cold War only emphasized the importance of maintaining a US military presence in Arabia; thus, Saudi Arabia abandoned its British protectors and came within the sphere of US influence.36 The US imperial government and its major corporate ally in the kingdom, Aramco, henceforth protected the ruling family from local and regional threats for largely political and strategic, and not simply economic, purposes. The transition to the US sphere of influence coincided with strengthening anti-colonial and radical reform movements around the world and, increasingly, inside Saudi Arabia. In the 1940s, communists fighting for social justice and independence from imperial influence and authoritarian rulers in Iraq and Iran fled to various Gulf Arab states, namely Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.37 Saudis were largely aware of political struggles in neighbouring countries since they regularly travelled there for religious and other purposes and were exposed to political struggles, texts and the political language of the day. This facilitated the reception in Saudi Arabia of the leftist ideas of these communists. Together they discussed leftist ideologies, communist analyses of the relationship between ruler and ruled, and the importance of communal control over modes of production.38 In this way, emerging leftists in Saudi Arabia built solidarity networks with other activists in the Middle East.39 These ideologies echoed strongly among the exploited labouring classes, who faced state and corporate repression.40 It is not surprising that the country experienced its first labour strikes in the early 1940s across various industries, including petroleum, construction and production. Socialism and communism were starting to occupy a significant place in workers’ political imaginations, especially in the light of intensifying US imperialism, but also in view of the exploitation that ordinary Saudis were suffering at the hands of the Saudi regime, Aramco and the newly established local companies.41 If socialism and communism made Saudi workers aware of their potential to challenge the exploitation they faced, the anti-colonial struggle in Palestine informed the early political consciousness of Saudis more broadly.42 That hundreds of Saudis volunteered to fight in Palestine in 1948, only a few years after one of the most severe food shortages and economic crises in Saudi history and at a time when the regime had travel restrictions in place, speaks to the solidarity Saudis felt with Palestinians. Those who survived that war blamed Al Saud for abandoning them and their Palestinian brothers for the sake of US imperial and pro-Israeli interests. At the same time, thousands of Palestinians sought refuge in the underdeveloped Arab states.43 Once there, they largely became instruments of state-building, often taking positions within the bureaucracy, the palaces or private industry, where they relayed their experiences of British imperialism and Zionist settler colonialism. The Arab–Israeli War of 1948 was a turning point for the kingdom. As in most states in the region, the sense of Palestine’s loss, known as the Nakba, was profound and further politicized many Saudis who, like Abdulaziz ibn Muammar, were coming of age politically.44 In 1951, only a few years after the Saudi army had acquired aircraft, the Saudi pilot Abdullah al-Mandili tried unsuccessfully to bomb the king’s camp. Supported by the tribes, al-Mandili escaped to Iraq, never to return. Popular disappointment with this failed attempt was widespread, reflecting the extent to which people opposed Al Saud’s rule and had tried to resist it. It was expressed in the chant ‘Mandili do not weep. We have wept copiously before you. So much so that even the pigeons in our homes can bear witness to our tears’.45 Various tribes in the Hejaz also tried to overthrow Al Saud, but they too failed. The next coup attempt, however, shook the regime to its core. Abd al-Rahman al-Shamrani was a former soldier who had returned from the 1948 War with revolutionary zeal and was intent on toppling the regime. He had worked his way up the ranks, finally being promoted to the National Guard, where he regularly travelled with the first king and later taught at the National Guard school in the western mountain resort town of Taʾif.46 He also wrote anonymously in the magazine al-Yamama about the corruption of the Saudi monarchy. In 1955 al-Shamrani, who was a member of the National Reform Front, led the Saudi Free Officers Movement, modelled on the Free Officers Movement in Egypt, which had toppled the monarchy there in 1952. Along with twelve other army officers, al-Shamrani plotted the assassination of Crown Prince Faisal and other members of the ruling family with a view to establishing a revolutionary command council to manage a post-Al Saud state. However, their plot failed, and the leaders were all executed in front of the country’s top army officers. Others in the movement were disciplined, arrested, exiled or discharged from military service.47 This incident reshaped the structure of the Saudi coercive apparatus, with the regime investing more heavily in strengthening and institutionalizing branches of the armed forces responsible for protecting the ruling family: first the National Guard in 1954, and then the Royal Guard in 1964.48 Their mission was to protect the ruling establishment, especially the king, from popular and institutional threats and to keep the army in check, which has remained weak ever since. Struggles over the trajectory of Saudi state formation were not limited to members of the security forces. They also included intellectuals and activists from different classes, regions and sects who opposed the political and economic status quo in various ways. Saudis were also starting to travel more regularly. For the first time they were crossing the country in search of education and employment opportunities.49 In the absence of qualified teachers, the regime appointed men and women from Syria, Palestine and Egypt to teach Saudi students. Subscribing to Arab nationalist, socialist or communist ideologies, these teachers shared their political beliefs, histories and anti-colonial sentiments with their students and friends. Saudis also began to pursue their secondary or higher education in Cairo, Beirut, Baghdad, Paris, London or, to a lesser extent, Moscow, where they were exposed to, and participated in, socialist and nationalist anti-imperial struggles.50 In the mid 1950s, some Saudi students were ordered by King Saud to return from Lebanon and Egypt, and, like other students and activists in the region, they demanded political participation, elections, freedom, economic development and modern education. Saudis utilized different technologies of knowledge production to express their political ideas and to shape the new popular political landscape. The print medium of the 1950s was central to their politicization. Arab and international newspapers, journals, books and political pamphlets circulated ideologies that they adapted to their own beliefs and struggles. Leftist publications in particular made a huge impact. Al-Sarkha (The Cry), the official newspaper of the Communist Party in Lebanon, and later on al-Nidaʾ (The Appeal), appeared regularly in the Eastern Province.51 Foundational leftist texts such as Capital, The Communist Manifesto, History of the Soviet Communist Party of the Soviet Union, This Is Communism, This Is Socialism and This Is Democracy were circulating secretly throughout the country.52 Saudis became connected to the ideological struggles taking place in Europe, the Soviet Union and elsewhere. They also debated these struggles and the various directions that leftists were taking in the light of rising reactionary economic and political forces. Through these intellectual engagements, they developed radical politics of resistance against capitalism and imperialism, both of which found a lucrative battlefield in the Middle East during the Cold War. The 1950s also saw the emergence of a critical homegrown Saudi press, with many of its organs leftist or Arab nationalist in orientation. Among them was Al-Fajr al-Jadid (The New Dawn), a weekly newspaper started by Ahmad and Yusuf al-Shaykh Yaʿqub which was a platform for nationalist writers such as Abdulaziz al-Sunayd,53 Muhammad al-Hoshan, Abd al-Rasul al-Jishshi and scores of other Saudis writing anonymously.54Akhbar al-Dhahran (News of Dhahran) was set up by Abd al-Karim al-Juhayman to tackle administrative corruption. The paper ceased publication for a while owing to the removal of its editor, after which al-Jishshi became its temporary co-editor. Ali Baqir al-Awwami, a leftist Arab nationalist involved in popular political life in the Eastern Province, wrote anonymously for the paper, criticizing the municipal government.55Al-Qassim was a weekly nationalist paper launched in December 1959 by Abdallah al-Ali al-Saniʿ. It was edited by a group of young Saudis with a socialist (Baʿthist or communist) orientation including Abd al-Aziz al-Tuwayjri and Abd al-Karim al-Juhayman. The latter, one of its most outspoken writers, worked in the Ministry of Finance until he was arrested and imprisoned for nine months. Al-Qassim targeted state corruption, for which it was shut down on 13 March 1964. The offices in Medina of al-Madina al-Munawwara were a centre of culture and information that attracted visitors from among the region’s renowned politicians, thinkers and literary figures, including Taha Husayn, Abbas Mahmud al-ʿAqqad, Hassan al-Banna, Muhammad Hassanayn Haykal, Shukri al-Quwatli and Habib Burqiba. Al-Adwaʾ (The Lights) was one of the most vocal anti-Aramco and anti-imperialist newspapers in Saudi Arabia.56 During its few months of existence (August 1958–January 1959) the paper published blistering critiques of Aramco, exposing the company’s discriminatory labour policies, corporate imperialism and public relations campaigns, and the myriad ways in which it had tried to silence the paper.57 It also called for Saudi sovereignty and economic self-sufficiency, encouraging the regime when it attempted to accomplish either, criticizing it when it did not.58 Like other newspapers, journals and pamphlets at the time, al-Adwaʾ regularly used the language of rights, by which it largely meant labour, economic and citizenship rights.59 In an article that struck a defiant tone, one of the paper’s editors, Muhammad Saeed Baʿshen (who had graduated from al-Falah School in Jeddah) criticized US capital and Aramco’s coercive methods (see Plate 1): When the threats and intimidation failed, [Aramco] resorted to buying off writers and people’s consciences … But we are not going to sell off our country for the sake of the dollar. You can purchase traitors and sell-outs with this dollar of yours. As for us, we shall neither sell our consciences nor give you our pens, and we shall not devote our thoughts to these dollars that are dripping with blood … Threaten us all you want, Aramco, with your mercenaries and your public relations office … The political awareness of the people and the king’s attentiveness to the country’s interest will shatter your stubbornness, for we are seekers of rights and justice, and supporters of rights and justice everywhere stand with us in our cause.60 1. View largeDownload slide Editor's warning to Aramco, published in al-Adwaʾ on 6 January 1959. Image courtesy of King Salman Central Library, King Saud University. 1. View largeDownload slide Editor's warning to Aramco, published in al-Adwaʾ on 6 January 1959. Image courtesy of King Salman Central Library, King Saud University. Failing to co-opt the editors, Aramco managed to have al-Adwaʾ shut down with the support of Crown Prince Faisal, who temporarily sidelined his brother and became de facto ruler between October 1958 and December 1960.61 A critical Saudi press nonetheless persevered, and cultural magazines such al-Manhal (The Fountain) and Qureish and dailies such as al-Bilad (The Country) and Harraʾ even featured Saudi and other Arab women writers.62 Influenced by Arab nationalist discourses and emboldened by King Saud’s political and cultural stance, an emerging class of Saudi intellectuals and literary critics thus began to use the press as a platform to censure Aramco and US imperialism. Some even ventured into the world of local politics, criticizing local rule and administrative corruption and debating the role of the individual in governance.63 In addition to print culture, the radio was instrumental in conveying anti-colonial struggles and political ideologies.64 As crown prince, Saud had been the force behind the first radio station in Saudi Arabia, which began broadcasting from Jeddah in October 1949, transmitting local and international news, literary and cultural subjects, and talk shows.65 In the early 1950s, Saud had the station broadcast military marches and songs by local and other Arab singers for the first time in Saudi history.66 For the most part, however, it was used to influence and control pilgrims in Mecca.67 The signals from the radio station were too weak to reach central and eastern parts of the country, however, and these continued to rely on Cairo, Amman, Kuwait and Baghdad for their radio broadcasts and local and regional news updates, all of which were inflected with Arab nationalism. In 1954, therefore, Saud ordered the opening of two more stations, one in Riyadh and the other in Jeddah.68 By then, the radio had become a household staple and audiences across the country were eager to listen to relevant political and educational programmes.69 A regular listener to the Egyptian radio station Sawt al-Arab (Voice of the Arabs), Saud was impressed with how it revolutionized regional politics and shaped the Nasserist loyalties of Arab subjects. As a propaganda tool of the regime, Sawt al-Arab broadcast the views of Jamal Abdel Nasser’s revolutionary regime throughout the Arab world. It also broadcast the ideals and music of secular Arab nationalism, shaping generations of Arab nationalists.70 Following this model, Saud used the new Saudi radio stations to communicate with and influence his subjects and to connect them further with the rest of the Arab world.71 Nationalist songs and popular Arabic music featured regularly.72 By 1958 the national anthem opened each day’s broadcast, following the call to prayer. In the late 1950s, Saudi women began to present programmes, and female Arab nationalist singers such as Umm Kulthum were heard throughout the country.73 These diverse media networks politicized people before and especially after the formation of the Saudi state, but regional and global events were equally important in politically mobilizing people in Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, the nationalization of oil in Iran in 1951, the emergence of the National Union Committee in 1954 and subsequent nationalist mobilizations in Bahrain, the Baghdad Pact of 1955 (later the Central Treaty Organization), and the Suez Crisis of 1956 specifically resonated with and mobilized Saudis to act politically.74 Primary among domestic developments was the opening and continued existence of the Dhahran airfield, which became a battleground for popular and institutional struggles. It also embodied the power struggle between Saud and Faisal and the comparatively progressive or conservative policies, respectively, that each pursued. It was in this politically charged context that Saudis deployed various strands of leftist and nationalist ideologies to address the socio-political worlds they inhabited and to achieve their future aspirations. Despite their political rivalries, they were of one mind in contesting the rule of Al Saud and economic and political imperialism. They regularly challenged increased taxation, the absence of economic development and rigid moral codes.75 Through their activism, travel, transnational solidarity and participation in literary and radio cultures, thousands of Saudis from across the country became central to the radical networks that ultimately shaped world politics in the 1950s. It is in this context of ongoing transnational connections and knowledge networks in the age of anti-colonialism, popular nationalism and Cold War divisions that the successive labour strikes at Aramco, and mid-century political sociabilities more broadly, should be understood. These strikes were not simply isolated developments provoked by foreign oil workers and limited to the oil towns, as much of the literature tells us.76 They were part of an emerging network of leftist and nationalist organization that spanned the kingdom’s regions. The fact that the workers confined their demands to labour rights and benefits was a strategic move born out of necessity and the absence of an organized nationalist movement. In view of Aramco’s successful attempts to undermine the labour movement by accusing it of having purely political aims, the strike leaders were also careful to be seen to separate their personal political beliefs from the labour struggle.77 However, while the thousands of Saudis and Arabs who refused to go to work on 17 October 1953 were inspired and politicized by local and regional developments, members of the workers’ committee who led the strikes were also getting involved in political and community activism across the country. Along with other Aramco employees, some of them became renowned figures within the various nationalist organizations that emerged in the 1950s and 1960s. These included Abdulaziz al-Sunayd,78 Salih ibn Saad al-Zayd, Abd al-Rahman al-Buhayjan79 and Nasir al-Said. Non-Aramco employees, however, were at least as influential in shaping national and political identities. Away from official centres of cultural production, Abdallah al-Tariqi (who later became Saudi Arabia’s first oil minister), Ishaq al-Shaykh Yacoub,80 Abdul Rahman Munif81 and Abdulaziz ibn Muammar, among others, shaped a national identity that transcended class, tribe, sect and, importantly, the regionalism that had intensified following the formation of the state. They played a pivotal role in fostering the awakening national sense of belonging that was only strengthened by the regime’s oppression and by US economic and political imperialism in the early 1950s. This multidimensional history of political subject formation and leftist struggle does not inform periodization or feature in Saudi historiography. It is also rarely addressed, wholly or in part, in scholarship on the kingdom, which largely centres on the history and political economy of oil, authoritarianism and religion. In the few instances in which scholars have tackled leftist political mobilizations in Saudi Arabia, they have done so tangentially, without analysing the complex ways in which they emerged and developed and subsequently shaped twentieth-century culture and politics.82 In more recent years, the critical scholarship of Robert Vitalis and Toby Jones has shed necessary light on US oil imperialism in Saudi Arabia, the labour movement and Shia activism.83 Building on their work, Toby Matthiesen further historicized the role of the Shia in leftist political organizing.84 Significant as these contributions are, they focus primarily on the oil-producing region of the Eastern Province and its predominantly Shia inhabitants, to the detriment of the rest of the country. They neither place these developments in a broader socio-historical context nor paint a clear picture of social, cultural and political life across Saudi Arabia leading to the mid twentieth century and its aftermath. These were extraordinary times in Saudi Arabia for both ruler and ruled. The political solidarities that formed across geographical regions, socio-economic classes and sects, and struggles over the nature of power and the state, all shaped the course of Saudi history. Multiple futures were possible at the time, contrary to what the historiography would have us believe. III THE RADICALIZATION OF POLITICS DURING KING SAUD’S REIGN, 1953–1964 The radicalization and popularization of leftist politics accelerated in Saudi Arabia during the 1950s, just as they were doing in other parts of the world. This exacerbated the power struggle between Saud and Faisal, both of whom reacted in varying and sometimes contradictory ways to socio-political developments, taking advantage of them for their own political expediency. Influenced by Arab nationalism and other more radical discourses, and emboldened by King Saud’s seeming (if instrumental) openness to progressive politics, many Saudis hoped that political and social change within the authoritarian monarchy was on the horizon. Saudis from all parts of the country reached out to the king to express their aspirations for political participation. In a congratulatory note to the new king in 1953, people from the eastern town of Qatif expressed their desire for political representation and power sharing85 (though Ibn al-Juluwi, the amir of the Eastern Province, summoned high-profile Qatifis and reprimanded them for daring to make such requests). In the same year, the people of the western town of Taʾif unprecedentedly sent the king a widely signed petition demanding an elected people’s parliament with legislative powers, the independence of the judiciary, and modern nationwide education.86 Others protested on social issues, such as the people of Burayda, who in 1956 took to the streets and demanded permission to open coffee shops, ride bicycles and abolish the obligatory dress codes. Notably, the 1950s began to witness the emergence of political parties seeking to reform the political, economic and social spheres of the modern state. Several parties even emerged in Nejd, the central plateau region long considered the heartland of Al Saud loyalists. Some wanted to maintain political power under Nejdi control while calling for a national parliament and constitution. They sought to reinforce the Nejdification of national identity, either through the partial inclusion of the Nejdi educated classes in positions of power or through the overthrow of the Saudi monarchy. Others espoused openly nationalist goals and attempted to open branches of Kuwaiti and Bahraini leftist parties in Riyadh. The emergence of political counter-currents in Nejd is significant, particularly in the light of prevalent assumptions that treated the people of Nejd as a singular political unit that wholly supported Al Saud. The regime was therefore especially threatened by the emergence of opposition movements there, and managed to arrest, prosecute or silence most of their founders. Of the various movements against the regime that emerged in Nejd during the 1950s, two stand out: Young Nejd (Nejd al-Fatat) and the Union of the People of the Arabian Peninsula (Ittihad Shaʿb al-Jazira al-Arabiyya). Higher-level Nejdi bureaucrats such as Abdallah al-Tariqi, Nasir al-Manqur, Muhammad Abu al-Khayl and Jamil al-Hujaylan (minister of state and general manager of the Directorate-General of Press and Publications) started the nationalist Young Nejd, modelling it on the late Ottoman Young Turks nationalist reform party. Young Nejd called for a constitution, a parliament, political and fiscal reform, decentralized governance and popular political participation. In spite of the threats it posed to the regime, many Saudis at the time dismissed it as an internal reform movement aimed at increasing the power of Nejdi intellectuals without having a national ideology based on social justice and inclusion.87 Although these bureaucrats failed to rally a popular base, more radical Nejdis, such as Nasir al-Said, were able to capture the popular imagination. As the most ardent opponent of Al Saud, his role in the Aramco strikes in 1953 left him under house arrest in his hometown of Haʾil.88 When King Saud visited the town on 11 December that year upon assuming the throne, al-Said gave a heartfelt speech bemoaning the alarming state of underdevelopment nationally and drawing attention to the suffering of all Saudis, particularly peasants, workers and stateless Bedouins.89 He described Aramco’s oppressive and racist treatment of local and Arab employees, especially those who had led the workers’ strike, and listed some major demands: an elected parliament, the abolition of slavery, the release of all political prisoners and a just constitution that defined the duties of the executive, legislative and judicial authorities. Al-Said’s speech came to constitute the first statement of the Union of the People of the Arabian Peninsula, the political party he later formed. In addition to elaborating on the political and civil rights of workers and citizens, including the Shia, based on social justice and equality, he demanded economic, infrastructural and financial reform and human development.90 In an exceptional move, he called for an end to the influence of Al al-Shaykh, the descendants of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, and what he saw as their corrupt and authoritarian religious rule. Primarily, however, he denounced US imperialism and its agents in Saudi Arabia. On hearing the speech, Saud, infuriated that one of his subjects would impertinently confront him in public, nonetheless pardoned the workers’ committee and, in an attempt to contain their political aspirations, had Aramco reinstate most of them in their jobs. Saud had multiple motives for doing so. On the one hand, he was a product of his time, influenced by political struggles and populist modes of rule in the Arab world, and, according to people who knew him, he hoped to establish a public image of himself as a benevolent ruler. On the other, while he sympathized with some of the workers’ demands, he also used the labour movement to pressure Aramco into increasing the ruling family’s share of petroleum revenue. Al-Said’s unprecedented public speech bears witness to the radically different understandings of relations between state and society that had permeated Saudi Arabia by the early 1950s. It also corroborates the accounts of political optimism that Saudis felt upon Saud’s accession to the throne. Since becoming king, he had increasingly aligned the country ‘with Afro-Asian neutralism as a reaction to Western-sponsored regional defence arrangements and Western policies toward Palestine’.91 Unlike his father, Saud ‘was less friendly toward the West and particularly toward the US’, and US–Saudi relations ‘deteriorated seriously in 1954 when the Saudis rejected a standard MDAP [Military Defense Assistance Program] agreement with the US and terminated US technical assistance to the kingdom’.92 Saudi Arabia’s relations with Aramco also hit an all-time low under Saud when the regime challenged the power the oil company had hitherto enjoyed. To the chagrin of the corporate and imperial powers, Saud took the country closer to Abdel Nasser’s anti-imperialist policies, and indicated openness to establishing diplomatic relations with, and buying arms from, the Soviet Union.93 Despite continued repression by the regime, this turn in foreign policy was not lost on the people of Saudi Arabia, whose demands became even more radical. In 1955, for example, ibn Muammar’s year-old National Reform Front issued a fourteen-page open letter to King Saud conveying the optimism he had inspired in Saudi Arabia’s people as crown prince. The party expressed the hope that, as king, Saud would institute more ‘enlightened rule’ and allow popular participation in government. It also expected the king to ease the policy directions of his ‘uneducated’ father, who ruled his subjects as ‘slaves’ with an iron fist and whose authoritarian rule — fraught as it was with chaos, injustice and the trampling of rights — made ‘complaining’ a feature of the country. The letter put forward a list of demands calling for infrastructural development beyond what Aramco had implemented for its own economic advantage and that of the rulers. It also warned that if Saud maintained the policy of withholding education with the support of the religious establishment and ‘foreign advisers’94 in order to remain in power, and if he failed to respond to people’s hopes and dreams, the consequences would be dire: We would have no choice but to demand, forcefully, violently and insistently, our stolen dignity, freedom and wealth and insecure life. If these demands go unmet, then we must forcefully and with great strength seize them and make you understand that the free people of this nation, within it and beyond, in the Hejaz, Nejd and Asir … and al-Ahsa, Dhahran, Qatif and Khobar, and in the villages and countryside … and in every corner of this country, are determined to retrieve their dignified, free life that you have stolen with all forms of terrorism and malice … at any cost.95 Although ideological differences among members of the Front grew, the group continued to use the language of nationalism, solidarity and rights to demand state reform. As new cadres joined and others defected to more radical groups, and as political life and state policies changed under Saud, the Front became more radicalized and increased its threats and demands. While political groups in Saudi Arabia initially limited their claims to economic and labour issues, by the 1950s they had expanded their use of ‘rights’ to include political and civil rights. That ibn Muammar became one of the king’s closest advisers later in the decade, in spite of the National Reform Front’s radical threats, demonstrates the ways in which popular politics influenced Saud’s battle with Faisal. Indeed, Saud’s position on the US airfield in Dhahran is instructive. The continued existence of the airfield amid a tense Middle East caught in the web of Cold War politics had united many of the regime’s opponents. The airfield was also a point of contention for those who opposed the Baghdad Pact, including Saud himself. Saud wanted an independent and sovereign Saudi Arabia and used the base as leverage to pressure the US government to modernize the Saudi army, navy and air force. In 1956 he ‘set a high price on renegotiation of the Dhahran Air Base agreement’ with the US government.96 He also joined Abdel Nasser and Syria’s president Shukri al-Quwatli in calling for an end to colonialism and imperialism. Abdel Nasser’s visit to Dhahran on 23 September 1956 only emboldened the Saudi opposition, who came out in droves to show support for the populist Arab leader. The opposition that Saudi activists, as well as Abdel Nasser, expressed that day was so sharp that Saud went so far as to blame his father and brother Faisal for the presence of the airbase.97 He also expressed his desire to shut down the base and explained how he was torn between his Arab nationalist loyalties and the urgency of developing Saudi Arabia’s military defences.98 Such rhetoric, coupled with state repression, further radicalized leftist groups in the kingdom. By 1956 various US sources were warning that ‘dissidence within the country is increasing and is noticeable in all sectors of the population’.99 Where the activists and clandestine parties of the early 1950s were strategically reformist in their demands, by the end of the decade most were radicalized, and strengthened their demands and criticisms of the regime, and not just of US imperialism and Aramco. Against all odds, and notwithstanding ideological differences and rivalries, Saudi intellectuals, members of political parties, journalists, labour organizers, writers and literary critics challenged the monarchy and its imperial supporters. Motivated by escalating activism and regional developments, people from all corners of Saudi Arabia formed a plethora of clandestine leftist political parties.100 The majority consisted of secular nationalist parties with Baʿthist, Nasserist or communist orientations. Although communism addressed many of the struggles that Saudis were facing in the first decades of the new state, they identified with left-wing nationalism more broadly. Indeed, Baʿthism and Nasserism held most sway over people’s political beliefs and aspirations, and claimed the lion’s share of political groupings and state institutions across the country. Saudis began to adopt Baʿthism, which propagated a socialist, progressive and revolutionary Arab nationalism in the early 1950s. The Arab Socialist Baʿth Party (Hizb al-Baʿth al-Arabi al-Ishtiraki), set up by Muhammad Rabiʿ and Ali Ghannam in the mid 1950s, was one of the most popular Baʿthist groups. While Baʿthism had earlier roots in the Arab world, Baʿthist organizing remained relatively weak in Saudi Arabia until the revolution that toppled the Hashemite monarchy in Iraq in 1958. This revolution injected new life into Baʿthist activism and anti-colonialism in Saudi Arabia.101 By then, a literary opposition culture had emerged. It was also common to distribute political pamphlets and to express support for causes such as Palestine, Arab nationalism and anti-imperialism, and this further strengthened Baʿthist organizing. In 1961 the party launched its first secret newspaper, Sawt al-Jamahir (Voice of the Masses). Although it had a limited, selective circulation, the paper published news updates and political statements that reached all parts of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Baʿthism reflected the political trajectory of Baʿthism in Syria and Iraq, with similar tensions leading to splintering among the various groups. This brought Saudi Arabia and its people closer to political developments in the rest of the Arab world, making it one of many fronts on which ideological battles were waged in the Middle East during the Cold War. At the same time, Saudis selectively adopted various political ideologies that often bridged tensions between socialism, communism and Arab nationalism in ways that fitted their political context.102 The Revolutionary Student Vanguard (Al-Taliʿa al-Tullabiyya al-Thawriyya, formed in 1962) and the Vanguard of Saudi-Arabian Youth (Shabab al-Taliʿa al-Arabiyya al-Saudiyya, 1964) are examples of such associations that brought together Baʿthists, Arab nationalists and Saudi nationalists.103 Saudis adapted Baʿthism to their local contexts and used it to pursue their domestic political interests, contradicting party directives from Iraq and Syria. They often became involved in direct political, ideological and strategic confrontations with many of the Nasserist Arab nationalists in Saudi Arabia, who outnumbered them. Indeed, Nasserist pan-Arabism resonated more than other political ideologies among men and women across Saudi Arabia, especially among intellectuals, bureaucrats, academics, politicians and members of the ruling family and the army.104 Thus, many radical pan-Arab groups inspired by Nasserism emerged in the kingdom and were largely able to inject public life with ideals of revolutionary Nasserism through their diverse positions in society, seriously challenging official Saudi ideology.105 Oppression by the regime and the crackdown on leftist movements escalated in the late 1950s, especially during Crown Prince Faisal’s premiership between 1958 and 1960 and after 1962.106 Those whom Faisal did not imprison either fled the kingdom or were exiled to other Arab countries. In Beirut, Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo, they continued their anti-Al Saud activism. They initiated branches of existing Saudi political parties or started new ones, often engaging in local politics and sharing their experiences. They also found an Arab press ready and willing to provide a platform from which to censure the reactionary Saudi state. The Front for the Liberation of the Arabian Peninsula (Jabhat Tahrir al-Jazira al-Arabiyya) was one among many exiled opposition parties that published widely in the Arab press, producing pamphlets from the late 1950s, with offices in Lebanon, Egypt and Saudi Arabia distributing thirty thousand copies a week. The party put forward some of the most radical critiques of the Saudi regime. In 1958 it declared the following (see Plate 2): We demand freedom, on which our hope rests, and which we consider food for the soul. Freedom is one of many constitutional rights of each citizen, and we shall not let it be constrained or denied to us … It is us, the people, who fight for the sake of freedom, dignity, complete independence … for the sake of a better life, better society and an ideal, honourable, democratic future. We shall fight until the last breath against those who squander the wealth that belongs to the people, against reactionary terrorist forces, against the brutal dictators, against the traitors and agents of colonialism, and against those who are corrupt like Saud and Faisal … their descendants and their lineage. The freedom- and justice-loving peoples of the free world will support us in our glorious struggle and will stand with us in our bitter fight.107 However, although some Arab activists and regimes supported Saudi leftists in their struggle against authoritarianism, few of the ‘freedom- and justice-loving peoples of the free world’ came to their aid. The much-touted leftist solidarity of the mid twentieth century that had inspired these words did not extend to Saudi Arabia. Saudi leftists were largely left to their own devices to fight the Saudi monarchy and its corporate and political allies, often getting caught up, like ibn Muammar had been, in power struggles among the rulers. 2. View largeDownload slide Pamphlet from the Front for the Liberation of the Arabian Peninsula, 25 April 1958. © American University of Beirut/Library Archives. 2. View largeDownload slide Pamphlet from the Front for the Liberation of the Arabian Peninsula, 25 April 1958. © American University of Beirut/Library Archives. While radical mobilizations threatened the economic and political order in Saudi Arabia and influenced its policies and international relations, ideological defections within the ruling family struck at the heart of the monarchy’s projected security. Many among the family were Arab nationalists, while a few even espoused the revolutionary ideals of Nasserist pan-Arabism embodied in Arab socialism, modernization, industrialization and independence. The emergence of the (Nasserist) Free Princes movement in 1958 threatened the volatile political balance and exacerbated the rivalry between Saud and Faisal. The king’s half-brothers Talal, Abd al-Muhsin, Turki al-Thani, Fawwaz and Badr, who formed the Free Princes, supported Saud and sought to transform the kingdom into a modern constitutional monarchy with a consultative council and political rights for citizens. To the chagrin of the ruling elites, they also wanted to implement reforms within the ruling family and create an internal council that represented the different branches of Al Saud. The Free Princes compounded the alarm that the ruling elites already felt as they faced the emerging popular political life, the spread of radical ideologies, attempted coups, a grave state of affairs financially, and strained relations with the United States and United Kingdom.108 IV CONSOLIDATING AUTHORITARIANISM: THE END OF RADICALISM Crown Prince Faisal had taken advantage of political developments to undermine his brother’s rule since the labour strike at Aramco in 1956. He had played on the fears of the Al Saud family, including powerful members among them such as the Sudairi brothers, who have ruled or otherwise held the top positions in the kingdom since 1982. Within two years they had rallied behind Faisal in his quest to prevail over Saud and shape the Saudi state in line with their vision.109 The first fruit of this new alliance manifested itself in March 1958 when, barely a month after the formation of the United Arab Republic uniting Syria and Egypt, King Saud was accused of orchestrating and financing a failed attempt to assassinate Abdel Nasser.110 Faisal exploited this incident to marginalize Saud further, accusing him of damaging Saudi Arabia’s reputation. Saud was forced to cede his executive powers on all foreign, internal and financial affairs to his younger brother.111 Even then, the rivalry between the brothers continued, shifting alliances within the family as the regime, especially under Faisal, strove to suppress political activism and to shut down all critical publications. The crackdown not only earned Faisal the ire of progressive forces in Saudi society; merchants and others central to the family’s power base also came to oppose him and the austerity measures he was implementing.112 However, Faisal still needed the king’s signature, and he managed the majority of the affairs of state until 20 December 1960, when, on the advice of Abdulaziz ibn Muammar, Saud refused to sign Faisal’s budget and accepted his consequent resignation.113 Two days after his brother’s resignation, Saud reclaimed power over the Council of Ministers, whose members he summarily dismissed.114 Encouraged by popular demand and his political advisers, and in reaction to Faisal and the Sudairi brothers, Saud adopted more radical measures upon resuming power. Notably, he formed a new Council of Ministers that included members of the Free Princes and several other Arab nationalists and socialists.115 This earned the council the popular titles of ‘the nationalist ministry’ (al-wizara al-wataniyya), the ‘ministry of technocrats’ (wizarat al-taknukrat) and the ‘ministry of youth’ (wizarat al-shabab). In an address to the people on 30 December 1960, King Saud stated: Forming this government is only a first step towards achieving what we hope for in terms of the comfort of our people and co-operation with them in managing the public affairs of the country in accordance with our religion and traditions. We shall seek to put in place a basic system of rule (nizam asasi li-l-hukm) that specifies the responsibilities of the people and individuals, delineating their rights and duties according to our religion and the life of the Prophet … . We shall deliver a provincial system (nizam al-muqataʿat) to loosen the reins of government and to achieve decentralization. We shall also announce legal frameworks for companies and hold ministers accountable. We shall reassess some of the regulations that are the target of citizens’ complaints. We shall also pay particular attention to radio broadcasting and the press since they are a good guiding medium. The press will have freedom within the bounds of the law.116 In effect, Saud was laying the ground for the new Arab nationalist political system his regime was about to form, which was supposed to be based on a constitutional monarchy, popular political participation, social justice, accountability and comprehensive statewide modernization.117 The constitution his regime would adopt was based on the one the Free Princes had commissioned Egyptian lawyers to begin drafting in 1959, and which Saud announced on Radio Mecca on 25 December 1960. That announcement was met with excitement and optimism across the kingdom. When, only days later, the station denied the accuracy of the announcement under pressure from Crown Prince Faisal and religious leaders, a Lebanese newspaper published the draft constitution, which Saud had already signed into law.118 The announcement of the constitution was the last straw for Faisal and his supporters. Faisal had been in close contact with the US government since 1956 and had also begun a long propaganda campaign against his brother, paying journalists across the Arab region to depict him as a communist supporter.119 The Lebanese right-wing al-Hayat (The Life), whose editors had very close ties to Aramco, was at the forefront of this campaign. Along with Aramco officials, they helped to frame Saud as a communist, citing his close relationship with people such as Abdulaziz ibn Muammar. They wrongly blamed him for the spread of popular political mobilizations in the 1950s as well as for bankrupting the state. The US government and Aramco also employed public relations firms to improve Faisal’s image worldwide, endorsing campaigns that depicted him as a ‘genius’, a ‘modernizer’ and a ‘desert fox’ in preparation for overthrowing Saud, whose popularity was on the rise because of Faisal’s oppressive policies.120 After a failed attempt to poison Saud in 1962, the king announced that he would not renew the US lease for the Dhahran airbase. In response to this, the US administration and the oil company began to sideline Saud and kept him under close surveillance. In the meantime, Faisal and his supporters within the ruling family worked to undermine Saud and to intimidate the new ministers of state, eventually replacing them with the Sudairi brothers. At the first meeting of Saud’s Council of Ministers, five ministers (Abdallah al-Tariqi, Hasan Nasif, Abdallah al-Dabbagh, Ibrahim al-Suwayil and Nasir al-Manqur) received death threats from the Sudairi brothers demanding their resignations. Since this occurred on the heels of Saud’s dismissal of ibn Muammar under pressure from Faisal, they did not believe Saud would stand up to the powerful Sudairi brothers and complied. Saud accepted their resignations, but, instead of bringing in Faisal as head of the council of ministers as his opponents had anticipated, proceeded to form a new government that excluded his brother, although Faisal was allowed to keep his post as minister of foreign affairs. Subsequently, Prince Talal also resigned and left the country.121 Faisal and his allies continued to marginalize Saud, to reverse his social and cultural policies, and to crush all popular, military and nationalist movements, alarmed as they were by the revolutions in Yemen in 1962 and Dhofar in 1963, which they used to discredit Saud and justify their military spending.122 They also arrested those in power who had sided with Saud against his brother. After the Yemeni revolution and the ensuing ‘Arab Cold War’, Faisal and the Sudairi brothers were given the full support of the US government, as well as military support from the United Kingdom and Israel.123 This allowed them to consolidate their power and dictate the emerging shape of the Saudi state, in spite of the bitter fight, both symbolic and material, against the most popular of Arab leaders, Abdel Nasser. Because it pitted Faisal against Abdel Nasser, this struggle attracted unprecedented internal opposition within Saudi Arabia and exacerbated the regime’s financial, military and political problems. Scores of Saudi air force pilots on assignment to carry military equipment and ammunition to Saudi troops on the Yemeni border defected, landing in various Yemeni and Egyptian airports, where they applied for asylum.124 The Free Princes, with Abdel Nasser’s help, began to organize politically against Faisal from Egypt, where they hosted radio programmes and wrote newspaper articles condemning Saudi Arabia as authoritarian and ‘backward’. These incidents strained Egyptian–Saudi relations even further, as Faisal and Abdel Nasser became bitter rivals until the latter’s death in 1970. On 18 October 1962, with unfettered US support and that of Aramco and much of his family, Faisal was able to force Saud to hand over most of his power, and proceeded to restructure the state and its institutions. He announced a new constitution based on the Qur’an that delineated the responsibilities of the state and those of its citizens, which was criticized by the various opposition movements.125 He then embarked on a campaign to crush all opposition, starting with his brother. In addition to US approval, Faisal had succeeded in garnering the support of the majority of his family, as well as that of the religious establishment.126 He did so through his maternal uncle and the highest religious authority in the country, Shaykh Muhammad ibn Ibrahim, whose warnings about the influence of foreign ideas Saud had ignored years earlier.127 Together, they drafted a petition in 1964 ordering the king to abdicate the throne in favour of Faisal, but, despite great pressure, he refused to sign. After several failed assassination attempts, including blowing up one of Saud’s planes in France, and three months under armed house arrest, during which his family was intensely humiliated, Saud left the country with his family on 2 January 1965, without signing the order.128 Many Saudi political activists had fled the country after 1962 as Faisal’s regime began a large-scale campaign of arresting anyone remotely suspected of belonging to, or having ties with, local or regional political groups.129 Under the pretence of exposing a communist cell in 1964, his security forces terrorized thousands of families in Nejd, the Hejaz, and the Eastern Province, arresting the men and detaining some for years on end without visitation rights. Scores were tortured while in custody, with many permanently injured and some killed.130 Despite the massive waves of arrests and repression, political activism continued, particularly in the aftermath of the Arab–Israeli War of 1967 and the ensuing sense of defeat. Political groups began to transform into different ideological parties with predominantly Marxist nationalist tendencies. For example, one group split completely from the Saudi Baʿth Party in 1966 and started their own Marxist party called the Popular Democratic Front (al-Jabha al-Dimuqratiyya al-Shaʿbiyya), which attracted former Baʿthists and nationalists from Qatif, al-Ahsa, Riyadh and the Hejaz. They believed in armed resistance and trained their members to wage ‘guerrilla wars’ (harb ʿisabat) against the Saudi regime. After the regional Arab Nationalist Movement split immediately following the war in 1967, its leader in Saudi Arabia, Ali al-Quwayfli, supported the left wing of the party under Nayif Hawatma and formed a new group called the National Revolution Party (Munazzamat al-Thawra al-Wataniyya). Members of this new party and those of the Popular Democratic Front became close, and the parties were amalgamated as the Popular Democratic Party (al-Hizb al-Dimuqrati al-Shaʿbi).131 Saudi groups also started to co-ordinate political action more closely with other parties in the Arab world, especially as hundreds of Saudi political activists and defecting soldiers had by then escaped to Beirut, Cairo, Damascus or Sana’a. In 1969 a group of Saudi soldiers under the leadership of Yusuf al-Tawil, and with the help of Abdel Nasser’s government, came together with others who had defected to Egypt, such as Rashad Shisha, to plan a military coup.132 Their goal was to topple the Saudi monarchy and establish republican rule with an elected president. When the CIA discovered the plot and shared it with the Saudis, Faisal’s regime arrested the soldiers and executed many of them.133 That year became known as the ‘year of arrests’, with the regime uncovering all political groups and arresting the majority of their members. The wave of arrests did not slow down until 1972, by which time the prisons of Mecca, Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam were filled with nationalists, both civilian and military, with different ideological affiliations. The opposition had thus been wiped out. Faisal’s regime attributed the rise of the radical mobilizations of the previous decades partly to the lack of a unifying history that privileged the state and the ruling family. This lack was a threat to the cohesion of the imagined nation.134 As king, he therefore sought to generate a homogeneous, Nejdi-based and religiously framed ‘Saudi identity’ set against the competing secular populist ideologies that had challenged Al Saud’s rule and US dominance in the Middle East during the Cold War. It was a political identity that brought together Wahhabi sectarianism and Al Saud’s genealogy. With the support and encouragement of the US government and Aramco, Faisal’s regime thereby injected new life into political religion in the 1960s, and he himself became the engine behind, and symbol of, the Islamization of political, cultural and social life in Saudi Arabia. The Egyptian media, Sawt al-Arab Radio in particular, relentlessly attacked Faisal for entrenching his country in the US imperial sphere and resuming relations with the former imperial power the United Kingdom.135 Since he could not compete with Abdel Nasser’s propaganda machine, he relied on the US government and Aramco to do so. In April 1963 the new regime also transformed the Directorate-General of Press and Publications into the Ministry of Information.136 Less than a year later, in order to eliminate permanently the possibility of an independent, transparent and critical press, Faisal passed the Press Institutions Act, centralizing the publishing industry in Saudi Arabia.137 Thereafter, the regime legally owned a certain percentage of any Saudi newspaper, and all newspaper editors had to work closely with the ministry and its censors. This led to what Hisham Hafiz (whose family owned al-Madina al-Munawwara) called ‘single readership journalism’, citing the late Egyptian journalist Mustafa Amin. Admitting responsibility for not having fought harder for the freedom of the press, Hafiz lamented, ‘Our dreams of a modern and advanced journalism, which was made a reality by hard work and perseverance, became a nightmare that haunted our parents to their graves’.138 V CONCLUSION A new era began in Saudi Arabia in which authoritarianism, bolstered by US imperialism, closed down the possible progressive futures for which Saudis had risked their lives. Many Saudi activists, such as Abdulaziz ibn Muammar, whom King Saud had appointed ambassador to Switzerland away from Faisal’s reach, spent years in solitary confinement upon returning to Saudi Arabia.139 Thousands of others were also imprisoned and regularly beaten and tortured. They were not released until King Khalid, who assumed the throne upon Faisal’s assassination in 1975, issued a blanket pardon for most political prisoners. In place of progressive secular politics, Faisal had nurtured a politically reactionary, religiously conservative, authoritarian monarchy. His regime was also instrumental in implementing US foreign policy in the Middle East, centred as it was on propagating political religion in lieu of secular leftist organizing across the region and beyond. From then on, US–Saudi relations were secure, with a $2 billion arms deal and the influx of US expertise into Arabia blessing the renewed union in 1964.140 Popular leftist movements had thus threatened the political status quo in Saudi Arabia, exacerbated intra-regime rivalries and led to the very making of a religiously legitimized, counter-revolutionary Saudi state. This, in turn, spelled the death knell of secular and popular politics in the country, and strengthened the transnational role of political religion, ultimately enabling Islamism to dominate the political field in the Middle East after 1979. Faisal’s policies and the crushing of the mid-twentieth-century popular mobilizations were prerequisites for the maintenance of Al Saud’s power within an authoritarian, monarchical political system. They were also central to safeguarding US privilege and power in the Cold War order. Far from petro-imperialism solely delineating the US–Saudi relationship, as popular and academic sources tell us, it is imperialism writ large, and the need to crush leftist radicalism and reinforce political Islam in the war against the Soviet Union, that better captures the US–Saudi relationship. US political and corporate support was crucial to the consolidation of the authoritarian Saudi state, its hereditary monarchy and conservative social life. To protect their economic and strategic interests, the US government and Aramco intervened in the daily management of everyday political, social and cultural life in Arabia. Doing so necessitated rendering Arabia as a place without history, its people as apolitical — a perception that is still popular and especially dominant in the Arab states but also in the historiography of Saudi Arabia. Leftists elsewhere in the world, however, are also complicit in the tragic fate of Saudi leftists. In ignoring Saudis’ calls for solidarity, as well as their history of struggle, the global Left has rendered Saudi leftists open to being repressed or dismissed. In doing so, the global Left ultimately reproduces the ideology of the Saudi state and the state’s official historical narrative. Unearthing this neglected archive compels us to reconsider the history of Saudi Arabia and the multiple forces that have created the counter-revolutionary Saudi state. Footnotes 1 Badr al-Kharif, ‘ “Qaim maqam Jeddah”: al-tajir wa-l-muthaqqaf alladhi tahawwal ila muharib wa diplomacy wa athar gadhab al-Baritaniyyin’ [‘Governor of Jeddah’: The Trader and Intellectual Who Became a Warrior and Diplomat and Angered the British], Asharq al-Awsat, 19 Sept. 2008. 2 Robert Vitalis, America’s Kingdom: Mythmaking on the Saudi Oil Frontier (Stanford, 2006). 3 Ali Baqir al-Awwami, ‘Al-haraka al-wataniyya sharq al-Saudiyya, 1953–1973’ [The Nationalist Movement in Eastern Saudi Arabia, 1953–1973], unpubd pdf, 2 vols. (Qatif, 2011), i, 216; my interviews with members of the National Reform Front, Riyadh, 2006–10. 4 Ali al-Dumayni, Zaman lil sijn … azmina lil huriyya [A Time for Prison … Times for Freedom] (Beirut, 2004); al-Awwami, ‘Al-haraka al-wataniyya sharq al-Saudiyya’, i, 212–13. 5 Rosie Bsheer, ‘Making History, Remaking Place: Textbooks, Archives, and Commemorative Spaces in Saudi Arabia’ (Columbia Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 2014); Saudi Arabia: A Disruptive Force in Western–Arab Relations, [United States] Department of State Intelligence Report No. 7144, Prepared by the Division of Research for the Near East, South Asia, and Africa, 18 Jan. 1956, in OSS/State Department, Intelligence and Research Reports, pt xii, The Middle East, 1950–1961 Supplement, ed. Paul Kesaris (Washington, DC, 1979). 6 Vitalis, America’s Kingdom; Rosie Bsheer, review of Sarah Yizraeli, Politics and Society in Saudi Arabia: The Crucial Years of Development, 1960–1982 (New York, 2012), International Journal of Middle East Studies, xlvi, 2 (May 2014); Bsheer, ‘Making History, Remaking Place’. 7 Timothy Mitchell, ‘The Limits of the State: Beyond Statist Approaches and their Critics’, American Political Science Review, lxxxv, 1 (Mar. 1991). 8 Frederick F. Anscombe, State, Faith, and Nation in Ottoman and Post-Ottoman Lands (New York, 2014). 9 For some examples, see Elizabeth Suzanne Kassab, Contemporary Arab Thought: Cultural Critique in Comparative Perspectives (New York, 2009); William L. Cleveland and Martin Bunton, A History of the Modern Middle East (Boulder, 2012); Adeed Dawisha, Arab Nationalism in the Twentieth Century: From Triumph to Despair (Princeton, 2016). 10 Islamist groups such as the Organization of Islamic Revolution in the Arabian Peninsula (Munazamat al-Thawra al-Islamiyya fi al-Jazira al-Arabiyya), Liberation of the Peninsula (Hizb Tahrir al-Jazira), the Daʿwah Society (Jamʿiyyat al-Daʿwa) and the Muslim Brotherhood (al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin) were formed in the 1950s and 1960s. As with the Saudi leftists, their histories have also been excised from the record because they used political religion to challenge the Saudi monarchy. See Abdalaziz al-Khodr, Al-Saudiyya: sirat dawla wa mujtamaʿ. Qiraʾa fi tajrubat thilth qarn min al-tahawulat al-fikriyya wa-l-siyasiyya wa-l-tanmawiyya [Saudi Arabia: Biography of a State and Society. A Reading in a Quarter-Century Experience of Intellectual, Political and Developmental Change] (Beirut, 2011), 829. 11 Saudi Arabia, Department of State Intelligence Report No. 7144, 6–7. 12 Toby Matthiesen, ‘Migration, Minorities and Radical Networks: Labour Movements and Opposition Groups in Saudi Arabia, 1950–1975’, International Review of Social History, lix, 3 (Autumn 2014); John Chalcraft, ‘Migration and Popular Protest in the Arabian Peninsula and the Gulf in the 1950s and 1960s’, International Labor and Working-Class History, lxxix, 1 (Mar. 2011); Sultan Alamer, ‘Al-siyaqat al-mahaliyya lil dimuqratiyya wa al-ʿuruba fi al-mamlaka al-arabiyya al-Saudiyya’ [Local Contexts of Democracy and Arabism in Saudi Arabia], in Sultan Alamer (ed.), Fi tarikh al-ʿuruba: qiraʾat naqdiyya fi hawamish al-zaman wa al-makan [The History of Arabism: Critical Readings on the Margins of Time and Space] (Beirut, 2014). 13 David Priestland, The Red Flag: A History of Communism (New York, 2009); Ilham Khuri-Makdisi, The Eastern Mediterranean and the Making of Global Radicalism, 1860–1914 (Berkeley, 2010); Abdel Razzaq Takriti, Monsoon Revolution: Republicans, Sultans, and Empires in Oman, 1965–1976 (Oxford, 2013). 14 Sune Haugbolle, ‘The Leftist, the Liberal, and the Space in Between: Ziad Rahbani and Everyday Ideology’, Arab Studies Journal, xxiv, 1 (Spring 2016). 15 Mordechai Abir, Saudi Arabia: Government, Society and the Gulf Crisis, 2nd edn (London, 1993). 16 Alexei Vassiliev, The History of Saudi Arabia, 2nd edn (New York, 2000); Madawi Al-Rasheed, A History of Saudi Arabia (London, 2002); John Chalcraft, Popular Politics in the Making of the Modern Middle East (Cambridge, 2016). 17 Interview with Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, Charlie Rose, 19 Sept. 2012 <https://charlierose.com/videos/17449 > (accessed 9 Sept. 2017). 18 Bsheer, ‘Making History, Remaking Place’, ch. 1. 19 Ahmad al-Sibaʿi, Taʾrikh Makka: dirasat fi al-siyasa wa-l-ʿilm wa-l-ijtimaʿ wa-l-ʿumran [Historicizing Mecca: Studies in Politics, Knowledge, Society and Architecture] (Mecca, 1999); Matthiesen, ‘Migration, Minorities and Radical Networks’. 20 Avril Ann Powell, ‘Maulana Rahmat Allah Kairanawi and Muslim–Christian Controversy in India in the Mid-Nineteenth Century’, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, no. 1 (1976), 59–62; Siraj Husayn Fathi, ‘Al-madrassa al-Sawlatiyya: tarikh la yunsa’ [Al-Sawlatiyya School: An Unforgettable History], al-Madina, 6 Jan. 2012; al-Sibaʿi, Taʾrikh Makka, 581. 21 Abd al-Hamid Abd al-Majid Hakim, Nizam al-taʿlim wa siyasatuhu [The Education System and its Policies] (Cairo, 2012). 22 Al-Qibla and al-Hijaz newspapers, as well as Rashid Rida’s al-Manar, provide ample examples of intellectual, political and literary connections between Ottoman Arabia and the rest of the empire and South Asia. See also Husayn Muhammad Nasif, Madi al-Hijaz wa hadiruhu [The Past of the Hejaz and its Present] (Cairo, 1931); Khayr al-Din al-Zirikli, Ma raʾayt wa ma samiʿt min Dimashq ila Makka, 1929 [What I Saw and Heard from Damascus to Mecca, 1929] (Beirut, 2009); Abd al-Aziz al-Rushayd, Tarikh al-Kuwait [The History of Kuwait] (Beirut, 1978), 325. 23 Haytham Muhammad al-Jishi, ‘Al-Imam Hassan Ali al-Badr … al-shaykh al-mujahid’ [Imam Hassan Ali al-Badr … the Fighter Shaykh], Rasid, 17 Sept. 2005. 24 For more on the relations between state and society and the role of religion and tribalism therein, see Abdulaziz H. Al-Fahad, ‘The ʾImama vs. the ʿIqal: Hadari–Bedouin Conflict and the Formation of the Saudi State’, in Madawi Al-Rasheed and Robert Vitalis (eds.), Counter-Narratives: History, Contemporary Society, and Politics in Saudi Arabia and Yemen (New York, 2004); Al-Rasheed, History of Saudi Arabia; Nadav Samin, Of Sand or Soil: Genealogy and Tribal Belonging in Saudi Arabia (Princeton, 2015). 25 Al-Rasheed, History of Saudi Arabia. 26 These include an Arab state under the ashraf of Mecca, a separate Hejazi state, a southern region joining the state of Yemen, and various ideas about territorial formations in the East: see Al-Rasheed and Vitalis (eds.), Counter-Narratives; William Ochsenwald, Religion, Society, and the State in Arabia: The Hijaz under Ottoman Control, 1840–1908 (Columbus, 1984); Tariq Moraiwed Tell, The Social and Economic Origins of Monarchy in Jordan (New York, 2013). 27 William Ochsenwald, ‘Islam and Loyalty in the Saudi Hijaz, 1926–1939’, Die Welt des Islams: International Journal for the Study of Modern Islam, new ser., xlvii, 1 (2007); Toby Matthiesen, The Other Saudis: Shiism, Dissent and Sectarianism (New York, 2015); Rosie Bsheer and John Warner (eds.), Theorizing the Arabian Peninsula, Jadmag Pedagogy Publications, i, 1 (Fall 2013). 28 Robert Vitalis, When Capitalists Collide: Business Conflict and the End of Empire in Egypt (Berkeley, 1995); Elizabeth Thompson, Colonial Citizens: Republican Rights, Paternal Privilege, and Gender in French Syria and Lebanon (New York, 2000); Tell, Social and Economic Origins of Monarchy in Jordan. 29 The Ikhwan Rebellion of 1927 was actually the first serious threat to the emerging rule of Al Saud. However, I do not address it here since it occurred prior to the formal establishment of the state in 1932. It is noteworthy that scholars have written widely about this rebellion at the expense of others, which has in turn reified the ahistorical idea that forms of resistance to Al Saud were merely pre-modern, tribal ones. See David Commins, The Wahhabi Mission and Saudi Arabia (London, 2006); Al-Rasheed, History of Saudi Arabia. 30 Al-Khodr, Al-Saudiyya, 828. 31 Arab Dissident Movements, 1905–1955, ed. A. Burdett, 4 vols. (Cambridge, 1996), ii, 699–736. 32 Al-Awwami, ‘Al-haraka al-wataniyya sharq al-Saudiyya’, i, 306; Al-Rasheed, History of Saudi Arabia. 33 Memorandum from Nabih Amin Faris, Princeton University, to the White House, 24 Oct. 1941: Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, Hyde Park, NY, President’s Secretary’s File, Saudi Arabia, 1933–1945 (1941). 34 Memorandum from H. A. Stuart, director of Naval Petroleum Reserves, the Secretary of the Navy, Navy Department, Washington, 17 May 1941: Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, Hyde Park, NY, President’s Secretary’s File, Saudi Arabia, 1933–1945 (1941). 35 Nate Herring, Public Affairs Office, US Army Corps of Engineers, ‘A Lasting Legacy: The Dhahran Airfield and Civil Air Terminal’, 23 May 2014, <http://www.tam.usace.army.mil/Media/News-Stories/Article/485031/a-lasting-legacy-the-dhahran-airfield-and-civil-air-terminal > (accessed 11 Aug. 2017); Timothy Mitchell, Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil (London, 2013), 208. 36 See King Abdulaziz ibn Saud to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, 10 Mar. 1945: Archive of the Institute of Public Administration, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (hereafter IPA), letter no. 45/1/4/26. 37 Fahd al-Qahtani, Shuyuʿiyyun fi al-Saudiyya: dirasah fi al-ʿalaqat al-Sufyatiyya al-Saudiyya, 1902–1988 [Communists in Saudi Arabia: A Study of Saudi–Soviet Relations, 1902–1988] (London, 1988). 38 Laurence Louër, ‘The Political Impact of Labor Migration in Bahrain’, City and Society, xx, 1 (2008), 34–5; my interviews. 39 Iran’s communist Tudeh Party was central in spreading Marxist thought in Bahrain, and the popular National Liberation Front of Bahrain (Jabhat al-Tahrir al-Watani al-Bahraniyya), which was formed in 1955, was a product of Marxist ideology. In Oman the strongest Marxist party was the Popular Front for the Liberation of Oman (Al-Jabha al-Shaʿbiyya li-Tahrir Oman) and, later, of Dhofar. While Marxist influence and politics were also strong in Yemen, here I am addressing Gulf states only. See Takriti, Monsoon Revolution. 40 The regime and Aramco took institutional and security measures to counter growing socialist influences: Vitalis, America’s Kingdom; Abd al-Rahman al-Ahmari, ‘Dawr sharikat al-zayt al-Arabiyya al-Amrikiyya fi tanmiyyat al-mantaqa al-sharqiyya min al-mamlaka al-Arabiyya al-Saudiyya’ [The Role of the Arabian American Oil Company in Developing the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia] (King Saud Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 2006). 41 ‘Bayan Aramco + Taʿliq al-Adwaʾ = al-Haqiqa’ [Aramco’s Statement + Commentary by al-Adwaʾ = The Truth], al-Adwaʾ, 2 Dec. 1958. 42 Saudis began to attend communist conferences in places like Georgia in the 1950s, but their relationship with the Soviet Union has always been ambivalent, especially with the latter’s recognition of the state of Israel in 1948. 43 Shafeeq N. Ghabra, Palestinians in Kuwait: Family and the Politics of Survival (Boulder, 1987); my interviews, Riyadh, 2010. 44 Alamer, ‘Al-siyaqat al-mahaliyya lil dimuqratiyya wa al-ʿuruba fi al-mamlaka al-arabiyya al-Saudiyya’. 45 ‘Mandili la tabki, qablak bakayna, hatta hamam al-bayt, yashhad ʿalayna’, al-Hijaz, <http://www.alhejazi.net/seyasah/0111508.htm > (accessed 14 Jan. 2013, no longer available). 46 Nasir al-Said, Tarikh al-Saud [History of Al Saud] (Mecca, 1984), 652–7. 47 Saad al-Jihinni, ‘Al-haraka al-islahiyya fi al-Saudiyya’ [The Reform Movement in Saudi Arabia], al-Hiwar al-Mutammadin, 22 May 2005; ‘Muhawalat al-ʾinqilab ʿala al-nizam al-malaki al-Saudi’ [Attempts to Topple the Saudi Monarchical Regime], <http://www.liberalls.net/vb/archive/index.php/t-15187.html > (accessed 5 Apr. 2016, no longer available). 48 ‘History of the National Guard’, Asharq al-Awsat, 11 Sept. 2006. 49 Anthony Gorman, Historians, State and Politics in Twentieth Century Egypt: Contesting the Nation (London, 2003), 72. 50 On Saudis studying in the Soviet Union, see Najib al-Khunazyi, ‘Rahil al-Ghanim … wa tajribat al-dirasah fi al-Ittihad al-Sufyati’ [The Passing of Ghanim … and the Experience of Studying in the Soviet Union], Okaz, 18 Feb. 2012, <http://www.okaz.com.sa/new/issues/20120218/Con20120218478966.htm > (accessed 12 Aug. 2017). 51 Al-Awwami, ‘Al-haraka al-wataniyya sharq al-Saudiyya’, i, 82–90. 52 Ibid.; my interviews. 53 See n. 77. 54 See Toby Craig Jones, Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia (Cambridge, Mass., 2010). 55 Al-Awwami, ‘Al-haraka al-wataniyya sharq al-Saudiyya’, i, 142, 185. 56 I have a complete archive of the newspaper, now out of print. 57 ‘Bayan Aramco + Taʿliq al-Adwaʾ = al-Haqiqa’; ‘Maʿna al-kafaʾa wa-l-ikhlas fi Aramco …’ [The Meaning of Competence and Loyalty at Aramco …], 3 Dec. 1958; ‘Ahsini al-muʿamalah: min muwwadhafiki wa ʿummaluki ya Aramco’ [Improve your Treatment: From your Employees and Workers to You, Aramco], 9 Dec. 1958; Abdul Wahhab Aashi, ‘Ma hakadha ayyuha al-Amriki al-masʾul yuhsin an tatakallam’ [You Should Not Speak in this Manner, Oh American Official], 3 Dec. 1958; ‘Madha antajat hamalat al-Adwaʾ ʿala Aramco?’ [What Have al-Adwaʾ Campaigns against Aramco Produced?], 30 Dec. 1958; all in al-Adwaʾ. 58 Muhammad Saeed al-ʿAwdha, ‘Al-dawla wa-l-sinaʿah wa-l-ihtikar’ [Government, Manufacturing and Monopolism], al-Adwaʾ, 9 Dec. 1958. 59 See Abu Nazih, ‘Huquq!’ [Rights!], al-Adwaʾ, 12 Aug. 1958. 60 Muhammad Saeed Baʿshen, ‘Lan nakhdaʿ ya Aramco!’ [We Shall Not Submit to You, Aramco!], al-Adwaʾ, 6 Jan. 1959. 61 On the shutting down of al-Adwaʾ, see Abd al-Fattah Abu Mudin, Watilka al-ayyam [Those Were the Days] (Jeddah, 1985), 66. 62 See al-Manhal (Jan. 1956); Hatoon Ajwad el-Fassi, ‘Does Saudi Feminism Exist?’, in Jean Said Makdisi, Noha Bayoumi and Rafif Rida Sidawi (eds.), Arab Feminisms: Gender and Equality in the Middle East (London, 2014), 123. 63 Al-Awwami, ‘Al-haraka al-wataniyya sharq al-Saudiyya’, i, 131; Abu Mudin, Watilka al-ayyam, 66–71. 64 Bsheer, ‘Making History, Remaking Place’, 55–7. 65 Royal decree no. 7/3/16/3997, 19 July 1949: IPA. See also Abdulrahman Saleh Shobaili, ‘An Historical and Analytical Study of Broadcasting and Press in Saudi Arabia’ (Ohio State Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1971), 150–2. 66 Shobaili, ‘Historical and Analytical Study of Broadcasting and Press in Saudi Arabia’, 150. 67 Royal decree no. 150, 20 Oct. 1952, in Umm al-Qura, 31 Oct. 1952: IPA. 68 Salim Wakim, Al-malik Saud: muʾassis al-dawla al-Saudiyya al-haditha [King Saud: Founder of the Modern Saudi State] (Beirut, 1966), 86. 69 ‘Special Issue on Saudi Arabian Radio’, al-Manhal (Nov. 1951), 89–104. 70 Laura M. James, ‘Whose Voice? Nasser, the Arabs, and “Sawt al-Arab” Radio’, Transnational Broadcasting Studies, xvi (2006), <http://tbsjournal.arabmediasociety.com/James.html > (accessed 8 Aug. 2017). 71 Royal decree no. 7/3/16/1007 on the Directorate-General of Radio Broadcasting, 10 Feb. 1955: King Saud Archive online, <http://www.kingsaud.org/ar/archives/subarticle/no-english-title-available-yet/1337 > (accessed 9 Sept. 2017); royal decree no. 1971, document no. 7676, 26 June 1956, 171: King Saud’s personal library, Jeddah; Shobaili, ‘Historical and Analytical Study of Broadcasting and Press in Saudi Arabia’. 72 Wakim, Al-malik Saud, 87. Al-Idhaʿa was a literary and news magazine, established in November 1955, that published a monthly schedule of Arabic and foreign-language programmes; it survived until 1966. Everything Sawt al-Arab broadcast was transcribed in this magazine as per royal decree no. 7/3/16/1007. 73 Virginia Danielson, The Voice of Egypt: Umm Kulthūm, Arabic Song, and Egyptian Society in the Twentieth Century, paperback edn (Chicago, 1998). 74 For the nationalist movement in Bahrain, see Omar Al-Shehabi, ‘Political Movements in Bahrain: Past, Present, and Future’, Jadaliyya, 14 Feb. 2012, <http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/4363/political-movements-in-bahrain_past-present-and-fu > (accessed 8 Aug. 2017). 75 Mansur al-Naqaydan, Al-muluk al-muhtasibun: al-Amr bi-l-Maʿruf wa-l-Nahi ʿan al-Munkar fi al-Saudiyya, 1927–2007 [Volunteering Kings: Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice in Saudi Arabia, 1927–2007] (Dubai, 2010); al-Awwami, ‘Al-haraka al-wataniyya sharq al-Saudiyya’, ii, 8–10; Saudi Arabia, Department of State Intelligence Report No. 7144, 7. 76 Al-Rasheed, History of Saudi Arabia; Matthiesen, Other Saudis; Vitalis, America’s Kingdom; Daniel Yergin, The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power, paperback edn (New York, 2008). 77 For the effectiveness of the labour movement and its almost persuading King Saud of their aims, see Sultan al-Jumayri, ‘Hadith ʿan al-tajriba al-nidaliyya al-ʿummaliyya fi al-Saudiyya’ [On the Experience of the Workers’ Struggle in Saudi Arabia], al-ʿAsr, 24 Feb. 2013, <http://bit.ly/2byhEb5 > (accessed 12 Aug. 2017). For detailed accounts of the Aramco strikes in 1953 and 1956, see Vitalis, America’s Kingdom; Jones, Desert Kingdom. 78 Abdulaziz al-Sunayd (1922–2012) was born in Iraq to Saudi parents who had migrated there in search of employment. The thriving communist ideologies he encountered at school there greatly influenced him. He started a law degree but dropped out to join the Aramco labour force in Saudi Arabia in the late 1940s; there he was elected president of the workers’ committee. After leaving Aramco, he was employed at the Work and Workers’ Office in Dammam. He was involved in both the labour movement and the national struggle, and was elected to the municipal council in Dammam. After spending time in prison for activism, he was exiled to Lebanon. He spent the rest of his life in Beirut and Damascus, where in 1975, together with friends, he started a newspaper, Sawt al-Jazira al-Arabiyya (Voice of the Arabian Peninsula), and a radio station of the same name. See al-Awwami, ‘Al-haraka al-wataniyya sharq al-Saudiyya’, i, 105–7. 79 A Marxist nationalist intellectual from the Nejdi town of Unayzah, Abd al-Rahman al-Buhayjan worked as an office boy for Aramco, where he became an avid reader. He was soon promoted to an administrative position in the Ras Tanura branch, where he had unfettered access to books on politics, Marxist thought and English literature. At gatherings after work he was known to recite the slogan ‘Workers of the world, unite!’ He played a crucial role in the Saudi cultural and nationalist awakening, for which he spent many years in prison. He became a member of the National Reform Front as well as of other political parties. See Ali al-Dumayni, ‘Jalsa maʿ Abd al-Rahman al-Buhayjan wa hadith ʿan “lajnat al-ʿummal” ’ [A Discussion with Abd al-Rahman al-Buhayjan on the ‘Workers’ Committee’], Manbar al-Hiwar wa-l-Ibdaʿ, 1 Sept. 2012, <http://menber-alionline2.info/forum.php?action=view&id=13330 > (accessed 5 May 2013, no longer available). 80 Ishaq al-Shaykh Yacoub was born in eastern Saudi Arabia and studied at the Jubayl elementary school, founded by his father in 1948. He worked for an oil-drilling and export company before he joined Aramco and then the Trans-Arabian Pipeline (Tapline) Company. He spent his holidays in Basra, Iraq, where he was exposed to communist literature, and smuggled communist pamphlets into Saudi Arabia. In 1954 he co-founded the National Reform Front. Ahmad Alwasel, ‘Al-shuyuʿi al-ʿatiq Ishaq al-Shaykh Yacoub’ [The Staunch Communist Ishaq al-Shaykh Yacoub], Jadaliyya, 3 May 2012, <http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/5339 > (accessed 12 Aug. 2017). 81 A Baʿthist Saudi national who worked in Iraq’s oil industry, Abdelrahman Munif is the author of the Cities of Salt quintet, a scathing critique of oil imperialism and the ways in which it destroyed the Arabian Peninsula’s environment and socio-political bonds: Abdelrahman Munif, Mudun al-mulh (Beirut, 1984), trans. Peter Theroux as Cities of Salt: A Novel (New York, 1987). The Saudi regime stripped Munif of his citizenship because of his writing. 82 Abir, Saudi Arabia; Vassiliev, History of Saudi Arabia; Al-Rasheed, History of Saudi Arabia; Sarah Yizraeli, The Remaking of Saudi Arabia: The Struggle between King Sa’ud and Crown Prince Faysal, 1953–1962 (Syracuse, NY, 1998); Steffen Hertog, Princes, Brokers, and Bureaucrats: Oil and the State in Saudi Arabia (Ithaca, NY, 2011). 83 Vitalis, America’s Kingdom; Jones, Desert Kingdom. 84 Matthiesen, Other Saudis. 85 Al-Awwami, ‘Al-haraka al-wataniyya sharq al-Saudiyya’, i, 150. 86 Al-Taliʿa, no. 1 (1973), 34. 87 ‘Al-muʿarada al-Saudiyya wa al-infisal: al-muʿarada al-Najdiyya’ [Saudi Opposition and Secession: The Nejdi Opposition], Rasid, <https://www.rasid.com/index.php//gal.php?act=artc&id=20725 > (accessed 20 Jan. 2013, no longer available). 88 Jamʿiyyat al-Islah al-Watani, ‘Kitab maftuh ila jalalat al-malik Saud’ [Open Letter to King Saud], 1955: Archives of the American University of Beirut (hereafter AUB), Arabian Peninsula File; al-Said, Tarikh al-Saud, 112–18. 89 Al-Said, Tarikh al-Saud, 112–18. 90 Ibid. 91 Saudi Arabia, Department of State Intelligence Report No. 7144, 12. 92 Ibid., 15. 93 A. Yodfat and M. Abir, In the Direction of the Gulf: The Soviet Union and the Persian Gulf (London, 1977), 37. 94 ‘Saud bayn al-shuyukh wa-l-mustasharin’ [Saud between the Religious Leaders and the Advisers], al-Hayat, 12 June 1955. Many opposition publications claimed that the foreign advisers to Saudi rulers worked in their own private interests, which required them to keep ordinary Saudis in ignorance. They accused them, and sometimes even the religious establishment, of being reactionaries hostile to the people and to intellectuals. 95 Jamʿiyyat al-Islah al-Watani, ‘Kitab maftuh ila jalalat al-malik Saud’, 10. 96 Saudi Arabia, Department of State Intelligence Report No. 7144, 17; Wakim, Al-malik Saud, 208. 97 Wakim, Al-malik Saud, 70. 98 In America’s Kingdom, 184–5, Robert Vitalis explains how the Suez Crisis and the nationalization of the Suez Canal depleted the Saudi budget, especially after Egypt and Saudi Arabia signed a mutual defence pact. Vitalis corrects the record, stating that it was King Saud, and not Faisal as is generally assumed, who commissioned the International Monetary Fund to overhaul the Saudi monetary system and, in doing so, brought ‘the kingdom back from the brink’. See also Salman ibn Saud Al Saud, Tarikh al-malik Saud ibn Abd al-Aziz, 1319–1389h/1902–1969m [The History of King Saud ibn Abd al-Aziz, 1319–1389/1902–1969], 3 vols. (Beirut, 2005), ii, 28–9. 99 Saudi Arabia, Department of State Intelligence Report No. 7144, 6–7. 100 There were too many political organizations in mid-century Saudi Arabia to discuss them in detail here, but they included the Knowledge Society for the Struggle (Jamʿiyyat al-ʿIlm li-l-Nidal), formed by Hassan al-Jishshi in 1949; the Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of the Arabian Peninsula (al-Jabha al-Shaʿbiyya al-Dimuqratiyya li-Tahrir al-Jazira al-Arabiyya), a Marxist organization of oil workers formed in 1960; the Union of the People of the Arabian Peninsula (Ittihad Shaʿb al-Jazira al-Arabiyya, 1961); the Saudi Communist Party (1961); the Revolutionary Student Guard (al-Taliʿa al-Tullabiyya al-Thawriyya), a Baʿthist student organization (1962); the Socialist Front for the Liberation of the Arabian Peninsula (al-Jabha al-Ishtirakiyya li-Tahrir al-Jazira al-Arabiyya, 1963); the Nationalist Democratic Party (al-Hizb al-Dimuqrati al-Shaʿbi), a pro-Palestinian Marxist organization of workers and students (1969); the Front for the Liberation of the Arabian Peninsula (Jabhat al-Tahrir al-Arabiyya al-Saudiyya), a grouping of intellectuals, academics and officers in the Saudi air force in the Eastern Province and the Hejaz united by their republicanism. See Abd al-Wahhab al-ʿAridh, ‘Al-nukhab wa muʾassassat al-mujtamaʿ al-madani’ [Elites and Civil Society Institutions], al-Manbar, 21 Jan. 2009, <http://menber-alionline2.info/pdf/show.php?id=4944 > (accessed 2 May 2013, no longer available); al-Khodr, Al-Saudiyya, 830–2. 101 Baghdad Radio (Idhaʿat Baghdad) regularly broadcast specifically to the Arabian Peninsula, and the Baʿth Party issued an intellectual political magazine called Sawt al-Taliʿa (Voice of the Vanguard), which continued to be published until the early 1980s: al-Khodr, Al-Saudiyya, 832. 102 In the context of Iraq, Orit Bashkin refers to such political ideologies as ‘hybrid nationalisms’: Orit Bashkin, The Other Iraq: Pluralism and Culture in Hashemite Iraq (Stanford, 2009). 103 Al-Khodr, Al-Saudiyya, 830. 104 My oral history interviews reveal that Saudi women supported Arab nationalism equally strongly and at times took Arab nationalist positions in their journalistic, literary, poetic and other writings. Many even played a crucial role in circulating leftist literature and pamphlets, protecting male members of the organizations and providing other supportive roles. See also el-Fassi, ‘Does Saudi Feminism Exist?’, 126. 105 Al-Khodr, Al-Saudiyya, 832. 106 For a detailed study of the power struggle between King Saud and Prince Faisal, see Yizraeli, Remaking of Saudi Arabia. 107 Jabhat Tahrir al-Jazira al-Arabiyya (al-Saudiyyin al-Ahrar) [Front for the Liberation of the Arabian Peninsula (the Free Saudis)], pamphlet 6, 25 Apr. 1958: AUB, Arabian Peninsula File. 108 Saudi Arabia, Department of State Intelligence Report No. 7144; Nathan J. Citino, From Arab Nationalism to OPEC: Eisenhower, King Saʿūd, and the Making of US–Saudi Relations, 2nd edn (Bloomington, 2002). 109 The Sudairi brothers are the sons of King Abdulaziz and Hussa bint Ahmad al-Sudairi, who was allegedly his favourite wife. They include the late King Fahd, the late crown princes Sultan and Nayif, the current king, Salman, and the three powerful princes Abd al-Rahman, Turki and Ahmad. 110 Muhammad Hassanayn Haykal, Al-istiʿmar liʿbatahu al-malik [The King Is Colonialism’s Toy] (Cairo, 1967); Vassiliev, History of Saudi Arabia. 111 Royal decree no. 42, 23 Mar. 1958: IPA. 112 Faisal’s Financial Reforms, March 1958–January 1960, [United States] Department of State Intelligence Report No. 8215, 28 Jan. 1960, in OSS/State Department, Intelligence and Research Reports, pt xii, ed. Kesaris. 113 Royal decree no. 35, 22 Dec. 1960, in Umm al-Qura, 23 Dec. 1960: IPA. 114 Royal decree no. 36, 22 Dec. 1960, in Umm al-Qura, 23 Dec. 1960: IPA. 115 Royal decree no. 37, 22 Dec. 1960, in Umm al-Qura, 23 Dec. 1960: IPA. 116 Wakim, Al-malik Saud, 254; ‘Bayan ʿan siyasat al-hukuma al-dakhiliyya wa al-kharijiyya’ [Statement on the Government’s Internal and Foreign Policies], Umm al-Qura, 30 Dec. 1960: IPA. 117 ‘Al-nizam al-asasi, 1959–1960’ [The Basic Law], al-Jaridah, 27 Dec. 1960; Al-nizam al-asasi, 1959–1960 [The Basic Law], King Saud’s personal library, Jeddah. 118 Wakim, Al-malik Saud, 274; ‘Al-nizam al-asasi’. 119 For Faisal’s contacts with the US government, see Muhammad Hassanayn Haykal, Sanawat al-ghalayan [The Boiling Years] (Cairo, 1988), 634. 120 Haykal, Al-istiʿmar liʿbatahu al-malik, 75; Wakim, Al-malik Saud, 301. 121 Al-Awwami, ‘Al-haraka al-wataniyya sharq al-Saudiyya’, ii, 35–7. 122 Muhammad Hassanayn Haykal argues that, in his first year as king, Faisal spent £E2 million on the Palestinian cause, as opposed to £E20 million in the first month of his reign alone to crush the Yemeni Revolution: Haykal, Al-istiʿmar liʿbatahu al-malik, 16. 123 Malcolm H. Kerr, The Arab Cold War: Gamal ʿAbd al-Nasir and his Rivals, 1958–1970, 3rd edn (London, 1971); Ronen Bergman, ‘The Officer Who Saw Behind the Top-Secret Curtain’, Ynetnews, 21 June 2015, <http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4671127,00.html > (accessed 13 Aug. 2017); Nuʿman Abd al-Wahid, ‘How Zionism Helped Create the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’, Mondoweiss, 7 Jan. 2016, <http://mondoweiss.net/2016/01/zionism-kingdom-arabia > (accessed 13 Aug. 2017). 124 Foreign Ministry, Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Beirut, ‘Official Announcement from the Ministry of Defense’, 20 Mar. 1963, and ‘Statement of the Spokesperson of the Saudi Foreign Ministry’, 29 May 1963: both in AUB, Arabian Peninsula File; Haykal, Al-istiʿmar liʿbatahu al-malik, 135; Haykal, Sanawat al-ghalayan, 625; Saad al-Jihinni, ‘Al-haraka al-islahiyya fi al-Saudiyya’; ‘Muhawalat al-ʾinqilab ʿala al-nizam al-malaki al-Saudi’. 125 Foreign Ministry, Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Beirut, ‘Ministerial Decree that Faisal Issued’, 1963: AUB, Arabian Peninsula File. 126 For a more detailed account of Aramco’s role in the struggle for power between King Saud and Crown Prince Faisal, see Haykal, Al-istiʿmar liʿbatahu al-malik, 41, 75; Vitalis, America’s Kingdom, 205–27. For the CIA’s role in Saudi and Arab affairs more generally, see Irene L. Gendzier, ‘Oil, Politics, and US Intervention’, in Wm Roger Louis and Roger Owen (eds.), A Revolutionary Year: The Middle East in 1958 (London, 2002); ʿAbdallah al-Tariqi: al-aʿmal al-kamila [Abdallah al-Tariqi: Complete Works], ed. Walid Khadduri, 2nd edn (Beirut, 2005), 350–3; Douglas Little, ‘Pipeline Politics: America, Tapline, and the Arabs’, Business History Review, lxiv, 2 (1990); Fawwaz Traboulsi, A History of Modern Lebanon (New York, 2007); Vitalis, America’s Kingdom; Wakim, Al-malik Saud; Hugh Wilford, America’s Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East (New York, 2013). 127 Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Beirut, official statement announcing Faisal as the new king, 2 Nov. 1964: AUB, Arabian Peninsula File. 128 In a speech to ‘the Arab Saudi people’ broadcast on Radio Mecca on 21 March 1963, Saud described how his plane had exploded close to the Italian border after he disembarked in Nice. Referring to his opponents among the ruling family, he said, ‘You know well who is behind these conspiracies and disgraceful acts’. Transcribed as ‘Royal Letter to the People of Saudi Arabia from King Saud’, Foreign Ministry, Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Beirut, 21 Mar. 1963: AUB, Arabian Peninsula File; my interview with Princess Fahda bint Saud, Jeddah, 5 June 2011. 129 Al-Awwami, ‘Al-haraka al-wataniyya sharq al-Saudiyya’, ii, 80. 130 Ahmad Adnan, Al-Sajin 32: Ahlam Muhammad Saʿid Tayyib wa hazaʾimah [Prisoner 32: The Dreams of Muhammad Saʿid Tayyib and his Defeats], 2nd edn (Al-Dar al-Baydaʾ, Morocco, 2011); al-Awwami, ‘Al-haraka al-wataniyya sharq al-Saudiyya’, ii; Turki al-Hamad, Al-karadib [The Prison Cells] (Beirut, 1998). 131 See al-Awwami, ‘Al-haraka al-wataniyya sharq al-Saudiyya’, ii, 251, 365. 132 Ibid., ii, 257; Adnan, Al-Sajin 32, 66, 78, 94, 128. 133 Adnan, Al-Sajin 32, 129. 134 Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, 1st edn (New York, 1983). 135 Haykal, Sanawat al-ghalayan, 632. In 1957 the Saudi regime spent $1.4 million on broadcasting services, or 0.5 per cent of the $310 million state budget. In 1968–9 alone, spending increased to more than $22 million, or 1.8 per cent of the $1.25 billion budget. Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, Saudi Arabia: Budget for the Year 1388/9 A.H. (Jeddah, 25 Sept. 1968). 136 Royal decree no. A134, 4 Apr. 1963, <http://www.info.gov.sa/Section.aspx?id=1 > (accessed 14 June 2013, no longer available). 137 Abu Mudin, Watilka al-ayyam. 138 Hisham Ali Hafiz, ‘Indispensable Clarification’, <http://www.hishamalihafiz.com/books_about.htm > (no longer available). For more on the history of the press in Saudi Arabia, see Uthman Hafiz, Tatawur al-sahafa fi al-mamlaka al-Arabiyya al-Saudiyya [The Development of the Press in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia] (Jeddah, 1989), 261–3. 139 Al-Awwami, ‘Al-haraka al-wataniyya sharq al-Saudiyya’, ii, 24–6. 140 Haykal, Al-istiʿmar liʿbatahu al-malik, 10; Wakim, Al-malik Saud, 305. Faisal also signed an arms deal with the United Kingdom worth £50 million. © The Past and Present Society, Oxford, 2018 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Past & Present Oxford University Press

A Counter-Revolutionary State: Popular Movements and the Making of Saudi Arabia

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Oxford University Press
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© The Past and Present Society, Oxford, 2018
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0031-2746
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Abstract

I INTRODUCTION Abdulaziz ibn Muammar was a leftist activist, intellectual and bureaucrat from Saudi Arabia. Born into privilege in 1919 in Iraq, he studied in Cairo and Beirut before taking a job in 1948 as a translator in the office of Saudi Arabia’s first king. His father, Ibrahim, had presided over the same office in the years preceding the founding of the kingdom in 1932, when he was a political adviser to Abdulaziz ibn Saud. Ibrahim also held several high-ranking positions in the fledgling bureaucracy, playing a crucial role in the formation of the Saudi Arabian state.1 It was therefore not surprising that his son should follow in his footsteps. Like his father, ibn Muammar was loyal to the first king and then to his son, Saud, who acceded to the throne in 1953. However, having come of age at the height of the anti-colonial struggle in Palestine, he was shaped by the popular politics of the time and began to oppose the very foundations on which the monarchy was built. MAP View largeDownload slide From CIA, The World Fact Book (1 Jan. 2000), <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AArabia_Saudi_political.jpg> (accessed 5 September 2017). MAP View largeDownload slide From CIA, The World Fact Book (1 Jan. 2000), <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AArabia_Saudi_political.jpg> (accessed 5 September 2017). Despite ibn Muammar’s progressive political beliefs, King Saud charged him with leading an investigation into working conditions at the Arabian American Oil Company (Aramco) following a mass strike there in 1953. His new assignment took him to the oil-rich Eastern Province, where he met like-minded Saudis. Within months he had joined forces with prominent leftists such as Ishaq al-Shaykh Yacoub and Muhammad al-Hoshan, and formed, with them, one of the earliest leftist nationalist organizations in the country, the National Reform Front (Jabhat al-Islah al-Watani). The Front censured Aramco and economic imperialism, calling for constitutional democracy, freedom of expression, the formation of civil institutions and the development of national industry. Nevertheless, Saud followed ibn Muammar’s recommendations and set up the Work and Workers’ Office, a neutral body commissioned with safeguarding the rights of workers. Ignoring Aramco’s objections, he appointed ibn Muammar its first president, from which position the young bureaucrat and other Saudi leftists he had engaged fought the oil company and its discriminatory practices.2 However, on the basis of charges fabricated against him by Aramco, ibn Muammar spent nine months in prison on the orders of Crown Prince Faisal.3 Upon his release in February 1956, he resumed his activism with the National Reform Front. Like other newly formed political organizations in Saudi Arabia, the Front was radicalized by the increasing repression its members faced,4 and by 1958 it had adopted a more obviously communist orientation. Some members left to join more radical political organizations or to start competing ones, but ibn Muammar remained with the Front. Despite his political stance, ibn Muammar became a close confidant of King Saud and was appointed a political adviser to the royal court, demonstrating the king’s ambivalence about supporting radical politics on the one hand and maintaining his authoritarian hold on power on the other. Along with other leftists within the regime, ibn Muammar influenced state policies, including the adoption of a constitution in 1960. This was a major blow to Crown Prince Faisal, who worked indefatigably to disempower Saud’s advisers and the radical leftist mobilizations that were gathering force during his reign. Faisal was not alone: Aramco, the Eisenhower administration and powerful members of the ruling family were united in their opposition to the direction being taken by Saudi Arabia under King Saud. They saw it as threatening their various interests and those of the political and economic order they favoured,5 and worked together to crush these popular movements and to constrain the dialectic of radicalism that was gaining momentum in one of the major front lines of the Cold War. They shut down secular political life, elided these events in Saudi and US historiographies, and projected themselves as leading agents of modernization.6 Faisal was therefore able to consolidate a politically reactionary, religiously conservative, authoritarian monarchy. Thus, the Saudi state form with which we are familiar today, and which we associate with Islamic fundamentalism, was not always an inevitability. As in other Arab states like Egypt and Iraq, it was shaped and supported by local regimes with CIA backing in the context of the Cold War. It was a calculated response to leftist and other opposition movements that threatened the status quo. Thereafter, popular struggle became increasingly religious in nature and took a less confrontational approach, until the Iranian Revolution and the seizure of the Grand Mosque in Mecca in 1979, and the subsequent war in Afghanistan. Popular political life and the nature of political rule have been mutually constitutive since the emergence of the Saudi state. Any attempt to disentangle the ways in which the one has shaped the other reveals the permeability between the state and society, which are often assumed to be distinct in authoritarian states.7 Such an attempt also admits a more nuanced understanding of socio-political life and, importantly, of the politicization of religion in the kingdom. This reading challenges the conventional periodization of twentieth-century Middle East history while putting forward an alternative genealogy of radical Islamist movements. While religion has shaped politics to varying degrees, it has by no means been the underpinning of political identity in the Middle East since the early modern period.8 On the other hand, political Islam was not simply a reaction to the humiliating defeat of the Arabs in the Arab–Israeli War in 1967 and the attendant disillusionment with secular politics, as much of the literature claims.9 Rather, local regimes and their supporters in the United States actively mobilized political Islam during the Cold War to crush leftist movements, with 1979 being a turning point in this contentious modern history, whose roots date back to the late Ottoman empire. We often associate Saudi Arabia with radical Islam rather than with radical leftist politics, but the political trajectories of Abdulaziz ibn Muammar and others like him who espoused various, and at times competing, progressive politics point to the centrality of leftist movements and ideological struggles in the making of the state. They reveal a complex, multidimensional social history that has been flattened, obscured and repurposed in the service of monarchy and imperialism. This article captures this complexity by historicizing the forces, ideologies and solidarities that shaped Saudi subjects and their political sociabilities in the early decades of state formation. Competing visions of the political future deeply influenced Saudis from different socio-economic classes and often divided them, creating fissures within both the ruling classes and society at large. In many ways, then, ibn Muammar’s history is unremarkable. It echoes that of so many other Saudis who risked life and limb to change the nature of political authority within their country and who, like him, became caught up in the power struggle between Saud and Faisal. Some were ordinary citizens with no connection to the regime or the ruling family. Others worked within the bureaucracy or belonged to the ruling family itself. Together and separately they participated at the popular and institutional levels in the divisive politics of the Cold War. They confronted local, national, regional and global powers, and challenged authoritarianism and imperialism. Important as Islam was culturally, it had not yet occupied as central a role in shaping political identity. The Islamist groups of the mid twentieth century simply did not gain traction or popularity until the 1970s, during Faisal’s rule.10 If radical popular mobilizations were at the forefront of Saudi state formation and Cold War politics, as this article argues, they also constituted a formative yet under-studied episode in the history of the so-called Arab Left, and the Left more broadly. Indeed, Saudi Arabia was not a backwater whose people were apolitical or isolated from global trends.11 Like other new states in Asia and Africa, it was part of an economy of political activism and state–society struggles that preceded the mass production of petroleum in the late 1940s and began to accelerate thereafter. The country witnessed its share of oppositional politics, which culminated in the radical movements of the mid twentieth century. Many exiled Saudi leftists kept up their political resistance from abroad, where they also contributed to local progressive struggles. As recent literature has finally started to show, however, the kingdom was not simply linked to transnational political and intellectual networks;12 it was also a source of progressive politics in its own right. At a time when the global war between progressive and reactionary forces was at its height, popular mobilizations in Saudi Arabia were unsettling one of the most powerful unions between international capital, Euro-American imperialism and monarchical authoritarianism. Through their struggles and writings Saudi leftists shaped socio-political life and contributed to leftist nationalist politics. Yet scholarship on the left continues to sideline the radical mobilizations in Saudi Arabia,13 even while paying lip-service to their significance.14 The same is true of Saudi historiography, of which very little critically examines leftist politics. Those works that do, often address radical movements tangentially, without analysing the influence they had on politics or history.15 The rare study that attempts to do so, critically singles out the influence of foreigners in politicizing Saudi workers in the Aramco labour strike in 1953, as if these supposed exceptional events emerged in a socio-political vacuum.16 These depictions portray Saudis as apolitical at best and gullible at worst, and gloss over the ways in which the kingdom furthered leftist politics and was at the forefront in the fight against conservatism. The clandestine nature of political groups in Saudi Arabia and the inability to access many of the documents from the 1950s in Saudi, Egyptian and US archives have compounded the difficulty of writing the social history of Saudi Arabia. They have also complicated our ability to gauge the scale and range of popular political participation. But Saudi newspapers, novels, prison memoirs, private archives and oral history interviews offer a window into the prevalence of leftist ideologies among the people of Saudi Arabia. Along with the circulation of political pamphlets and newspapers and the jailing of thousands of Saudi political prisoners, these sources tell a story of popular political struggle and not simply an elite intellectual one. The popularity of these movements is also evident in the lengths to which the United States went to ensure that the Saudi government both crushed them and remained within the US sphere of influence during the Cold War, which culminated in Faisal toppling his brother Saud in 1964. Unearthing the silenced archives of the Saudi Left is as important for resurrecting this lost history as it is for countering Saudi ideological hegemony. It indicates that, far from being a revolutionary Islamic state, as some officials have argued since the Arab uprisings in 2011,17 Saudi Arabia is a counter-revolutionary state par excellence, and was consolidated as such after closing down progressive political life in the 1960s. II POLITICIZING THE MASSES IN THE EARLY SAUDI STATE Political, social, cultural and technological developments from the late nineteenth century produced the conditions for the emergence of radical political sociabilities in Arabia. It was the transregional networks of knowledge production (educational institutions, print media, and radio and television broadcasting), and the regional and global mobility of the inhabitants of Arabia — all of which intensified during the oil era following the Second World War — that were instrumental in this. Early on, the shift from indirect to direct Ottoman rule and the emergence of mass politics in the late Ottoman empire transformed the socio-political landscape in the Arabian Peninsula.18 As a result, political concepts such as modern constitutionalism, nationalism, political rights and even revolution increasingly reached the shores of the peninsula not long after they began to circulate in the rest of the Middle East.19 The concomitant increase in mobility in the late nineteenth century only furthered these transformations, accelerating the exchange of people, political ideas and knowledge between Ottoman Arabia and the rest of the world. It also enabled Muslim rebels and intellectuals fighting European colonialism in India, Afghanistan, Syria and elsewhere to seek refuge in the sanctuary cities of Mecca and Medina. Once there, these political exiles shared their experiences of anti-colonial struggle through public and private lectures. Some, like the renowned anti-colonial religious scholar Sayyid Muhammad Rahmatullah al-Kairanawi and, later on, his pupil Shaykh Abd al-Haqq Qari, set up schools funded by wealthy Indian Muslims.20 Soon after, well-to-do locals followed suit. The pearl merchant Hajj Muhammad Ali Zaynal, for instance, opened al-Falah School in Jeddah in 1905 and in Mecca in 1912, with other branches opening in Bombay, Dubai and Bahrain.21 It was in these institutions that locals and pilgrims from various socio-economic classes became more politicized. While education in Arabia was not modernized until the mid twentieth century, these early institutions nonetheless politicized students and graduated many leaders and members of Arabia’s future political movements. By the turn of the twentieth century, people in Arabia regularly interacted with traders, intellectuals, religious scholars and pilgrims who travelled to and from South Asia and other parts of the Middle East and relayed stories of political struggle. They also became especially attuned to the literature of the so-called Arab Renaissance (al-Nahda) and the works of secular and religious anti-colonial intellectuals such as Shakib Arslan, Khayr al-Din al-Zirikli and Rashid Rida.22 Many became involved in anti-imperial activism, like Imam Hasan Ali al-Badr from Qatif, who called for armed struggle against Al Saud (the house of Saud) in 1913 and later fought the British in the Iraqi Revolt of 1920.23 Although the end of the caliphate in 1924 and the entrenchment of French and British colonialism reified the idea of the nation state across the Middle East, notions of Arab belonging increasingly gained salience. The establishment of the Saudi state did not erase these early networks of knowledge production or people’s political sociabilities. Like citizens elsewhere, inhabitants of Arabia held on to political, social and economic aspirations derived from their experience of modernity, the post-Ottoman state system, early twentieth-century socio-political developments and increased access to education at home and abroad. The formation of the Saudi state therefore heightened people’s political aspirations even as it heralded new state–society relations. During Al Saud’s years of conquest (1902–32), these relations necessitated Bedouin sedentarization and religious socialization. Thereafter, they rested on pacifying and co-opting the very sedentary tribes and religious forces that had enabled the rise to power of Al Saud.24 But the state’s new socialization mechanisms and disciplinary forces failed to control many of the peninsula’s diverse populations. Where Al Saud had managed by 1932 to consolidate their empire-cum-state territorially, they were far from doing so politically, culturally or economically. Indeed, the new state was opposed by a majority of its inhabitants.25 It was one among multiple possible political formations that British imperial orchestration had blocked.26 As a matter of fact, the unpopular Al Saud chieftains could not have sustained their state-building project without British military, intelligence and financial support. The establishment of the state thus triggered political resistance and competing visions of the nation and relations between state and society. It also heightened regionalism and particularistic identities in the Hejaz in the west, Asir in the south, the Eastern Province and various pockets in the central region of Nejd itself. Developments in the kingdom’s neighbouring states only expanded Saudis’ political imaginaries, and historical ties with people in Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, Iran and India continued to inform their aspirations long after the formation of the Saudi state.27 Just as struggles over state-building prevailed in the Middle East following the First World War,28 resistance to Al Saud’s monopoly over power was a constant marker in the political landscape. In almost every decade since 1932, Al Saud has had to deal with all forms of opposition, from armed tribal revolts and regional opposition movements to urban rebels and attempted military coups. One of the earliest and most notable of these movements was the armed revolution of Hamid ibn Rafadha in 1932.29 The leader of the Bala tribe, ibn Rafadha, met Tahir al-Dabbagh, one of the founding leaders of the Hejazi opposition political party the Free Hejazi Party (Hizb al-Ahrar al-Hijaziyyin), when the latter was in Egypt setting up a party branch there.30 They both opposed what they saw as the Saudi occupation of the Hejaz and agreed to launch a revolution against Abdulaziz ibn Saud on 20 May 1932. The party had forged strong ties with the governments of Egypt, Yemen, Iraq and Transjordan and was able to secure their support. British colonial intelligence, however, intercepted the plan and took all measures to thwart it.31 They blocked the rebels’ movement through Transjordan and Palestine, both of which were under British mandate, and launched an attack against the Hejazi rebels, arresting many among their ranks and completely disarming the movement. After the rebellion of ibn Rafadha, reliance on imperial support, first British and then American, to fight subsequent internal threats became a hallmark of Saudi rule. The experience of the British colonialists with counter-insurgency and mass repression, as well as the communications infrastructure they had in place, were central to maintaining Al Saud in power. The ruling family also proceeded to build its own institutions and legal regimes in order to prevent the emergence of mass politics and to crush any form of political organizing, tribal or otherwise. In pursuit of this, the family co-opted many of the tribes into the armed forces of the state, rudimentary as they still were, at once to pacify them and to use them to protect the rulers. It quickly learned to contain various threats through regular financial tributes, employment in the security branches of the state, coercion, imprisonment and public executions.32 Most opposition members had witnessed these violent counter-revolutionary measures at first hand and recognized the extent to which the British were willing to go to maintain Al Saud’s rule. Some gave up their activism, took up government positions, and embarked on building the state’s early institutions. These included many notables and intellectuals from the west coast of Arabia, the Hejaz, who under Ottoman rule had acquired the bureaucratic skills needed for the construction of the new Saudi state. Others continued their political struggle but adjusted their political organizing and strategies to account for the imperial support the regime received. While those who had mobilized against the nascent ruling family realized the extremes to which the British had gone to safeguard the reign of Al Saud, they were also quick to understand how their US successors were carrying on this activity. Saudi Arabia’s strategic location in the war against Japan and Germany was not lost on the US government, which saw that the ‘most crucial phase of the war will take place in the near East’.33 The need to build an airbase in Saudi Arabia for Second World War purposes (and not access to oil) was the primary concern of the Roosevelt administration after 1943 and animated the president’s meeting with King Abdulaziz ibn Saud in 1945.34 The US government decided to support Abdulaziz, seeing him as the most important Arab and Muslim leader, who could persuade other rulers to side with the Allies in the war. So it was that in 1944 the US War Department made a formal request to build a base in Dhahran, which Abdulaziz granted.35 Although the base was non-operational until after the war had ended because of British resistance to US encroachment, it continued to play a central, if contentious, role in US–Saudi relations. The beginning of the Cold War only emphasized the importance of maintaining a US military presence in Arabia; thus, Saudi Arabia abandoned its British protectors and came within the sphere of US influence.36 The US imperial government and its major corporate ally in the kingdom, Aramco, henceforth protected the ruling family from local and regional threats for largely political and strategic, and not simply economic, purposes. The transition to the US sphere of influence coincided with strengthening anti-colonial and radical reform movements around the world and, increasingly, inside Saudi Arabia. In the 1940s, communists fighting for social justice and independence from imperial influence and authoritarian rulers in Iraq and Iran fled to various Gulf Arab states, namely Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.37 Saudis were largely aware of political struggles in neighbouring countries since they regularly travelled there for religious and other purposes and were exposed to political struggles, texts and the political language of the day. This facilitated the reception in Saudi Arabia of the leftist ideas of these communists. Together they discussed leftist ideologies, communist analyses of the relationship between ruler and ruled, and the importance of communal control over modes of production.38 In this way, emerging leftists in Saudi Arabia built solidarity networks with other activists in the Middle East.39 These ideologies echoed strongly among the exploited labouring classes, who faced state and corporate repression.40 It is not surprising that the country experienced its first labour strikes in the early 1940s across various industries, including petroleum, construction and production. Socialism and communism were starting to occupy a significant place in workers’ political imaginations, especially in the light of intensifying US imperialism, but also in view of the exploitation that ordinary Saudis were suffering at the hands of the Saudi regime, Aramco and the newly established local companies.41 If socialism and communism made Saudi workers aware of their potential to challenge the exploitation they faced, the anti-colonial struggle in Palestine informed the early political consciousness of Saudis more broadly.42 That hundreds of Saudis volunteered to fight in Palestine in 1948, only a few years after one of the most severe food shortages and economic crises in Saudi history and at a time when the regime had travel restrictions in place, speaks to the solidarity Saudis felt with Palestinians. Those who survived that war blamed Al Saud for abandoning them and their Palestinian brothers for the sake of US imperial and pro-Israeli interests. At the same time, thousands of Palestinians sought refuge in the underdeveloped Arab states.43 Once there, they largely became instruments of state-building, often taking positions within the bureaucracy, the palaces or private industry, where they relayed their experiences of British imperialism and Zionist settler colonialism. The Arab–Israeli War of 1948 was a turning point for the kingdom. As in most states in the region, the sense of Palestine’s loss, known as the Nakba, was profound and further politicized many Saudis who, like Abdulaziz ibn Muammar, were coming of age politically.44 In 1951, only a few years after the Saudi army had acquired aircraft, the Saudi pilot Abdullah al-Mandili tried unsuccessfully to bomb the king’s camp. Supported by the tribes, al-Mandili escaped to Iraq, never to return. Popular disappointment with this failed attempt was widespread, reflecting the extent to which people opposed Al Saud’s rule and had tried to resist it. It was expressed in the chant ‘Mandili do not weep. We have wept copiously before you. So much so that even the pigeons in our homes can bear witness to our tears’.45 Various tribes in the Hejaz also tried to overthrow Al Saud, but they too failed. The next coup attempt, however, shook the regime to its core. Abd al-Rahman al-Shamrani was a former soldier who had returned from the 1948 War with revolutionary zeal and was intent on toppling the regime. He had worked his way up the ranks, finally being promoted to the National Guard, where he regularly travelled with the first king and later taught at the National Guard school in the western mountain resort town of Taʾif.46 He also wrote anonymously in the magazine al-Yamama about the corruption of the Saudi monarchy. In 1955 al-Shamrani, who was a member of the National Reform Front, led the Saudi Free Officers Movement, modelled on the Free Officers Movement in Egypt, which had toppled the monarchy there in 1952. Along with twelve other army officers, al-Shamrani plotted the assassination of Crown Prince Faisal and other members of the ruling family with a view to establishing a revolutionary command council to manage a post-Al Saud state. However, their plot failed, and the leaders were all executed in front of the country’s top army officers. Others in the movement were disciplined, arrested, exiled or discharged from military service.47 This incident reshaped the structure of the Saudi coercive apparatus, with the regime investing more heavily in strengthening and institutionalizing branches of the armed forces responsible for protecting the ruling family: first the National Guard in 1954, and then the Royal Guard in 1964.48 Their mission was to protect the ruling establishment, especially the king, from popular and institutional threats and to keep the army in check, which has remained weak ever since. Struggles over the trajectory of Saudi state formation were not limited to members of the security forces. They also included intellectuals and activists from different classes, regions and sects who opposed the political and economic status quo in various ways. Saudis were also starting to travel more regularly. For the first time they were crossing the country in search of education and employment opportunities.49 In the absence of qualified teachers, the regime appointed men and women from Syria, Palestine and Egypt to teach Saudi students. Subscribing to Arab nationalist, socialist or communist ideologies, these teachers shared their political beliefs, histories and anti-colonial sentiments with their students and friends. Saudis also began to pursue their secondary or higher education in Cairo, Beirut, Baghdad, Paris, London or, to a lesser extent, Moscow, where they were exposed to, and participated in, socialist and nationalist anti-imperial struggles.50 In the mid 1950s, some Saudi students were ordered by King Saud to return from Lebanon and Egypt, and, like other students and activists in the region, they demanded political participation, elections, freedom, economic development and modern education. Saudis utilized different technologies of knowledge production to express their political ideas and to shape the new popular political landscape. The print medium of the 1950s was central to their politicization. Arab and international newspapers, journals, books and political pamphlets circulated ideologies that they adapted to their own beliefs and struggles. Leftist publications in particular made a huge impact. Al-Sarkha (The Cry), the official newspaper of the Communist Party in Lebanon, and later on al-Nidaʾ (The Appeal), appeared regularly in the Eastern Province.51 Foundational leftist texts such as Capital, The Communist Manifesto, History of the Soviet Communist Party of the Soviet Union, This Is Communism, This Is Socialism and This Is Democracy were circulating secretly throughout the country.52 Saudis became connected to the ideological struggles taking place in Europe, the Soviet Union and elsewhere. They also debated these struggles and the various directions that leftists were taking in the light of rising reactionary economic and political forces. Through these intellectual engagements, they developed radical politics of resistance against capitalism and imperialism, both of which found a lucrative battlefield in the Middle East during the Cold War. The 1950s also saw the emergence of a critical homegrown Saudi press, with many of its organs leftist or Arab nationalist in orientation. Among them was Al-Fajr al-Jadid (The New Dawn), a weekly newspaper started by Ahmad and Yusuf al-Shaykh Yaʿqub which was a platform for nationalist writers such as Abdulaziz al-Sunayd,53 Muhammad al-Hoshan, Abd al-Rasul al-Jishshi and scores of other Saudis writing anonymously.54Akhbar al-Dhahran (News of Dhahran) was set up by Abd al-Karim al-Juhayman to tackle administrative corruption. The paper ceased publication for a while owing to the removal of its editor, after which al-Jishshi became its temporary co-editor. Ali Baqir al-Awwami, a leftist Arab nationalist involved in popular political life in the Eastern Province, wrote anonymously for the paper, criticizing the municipal government.55Al-Qassim was a weekly nationalist paper launched in December 1959 by Abdallah al-Ali al-Saniʿ. It was edited by a group of young Saudis with a socialist (Baʿthist or communist) orientation including Abd al-Aziz al-Tuwayjri and Abd al-Karim al-Juhayman. The latter, one of its most outspoken writers, worked in the Ministry of Finance until he was arrested and imprisoned for nine months. Al-Qassim targeted state corruption, for which it was shut down on 13 March 1964. The offices in Medina of al-Madina al-Munawwara were a centre of culture and information that attracted visitors from among the region’s renowned politicians, thinkers and literary figures, including Taha Husayn, Abbas Mahmud al-ʿAqqad, Hassan al-Banna, Muhammad Hassanayn Haykal, Shukri al-Quwatli and Habib Burqiba. Al-Adwaʾ (The Lights) was one of the most vocal anti-Aramco and anti-imperialist newspapers in Saudi Arabia.56 During its few months of existence (August 1958–January 1959) the paper published blistering critiques of Aramco, exposing the company’s discriminatory labour policies, corporate imperialism and public relations campaigns, and the myriad ways in which it had tried to silence the paper.57 It also called for Saudi sovereignty and economic self-sufficiency, encouraging the regime when it attempted to accomplish either, criticizing it when it did not.58 Like other newspapers, journals and pamphlets at the time, al-Adwaʾ regularly used the language of rights, by which it largely meant labour, economic and citizenship rights.59 In an article that struck a defiant tone, one of the paper’s editors, Muhammad Saeed Baʿshen (who had graduated from al-Falah School in Jeddah) criticized US capital and Aramco’s coercive methods (see Plate 1): When the threats and intimidation failed, [Aramco] resorted to buying off writers and people’s consciences … But we are not going to sell off our country for the sake of the dollar. You can purchase traitors and sell-outs with this dollar of yours. As for us, we shall neither sell our consciences nor give you our pens, and we shall not devote our thoughts to these dollars that are dripping with blood … Threaten us all you want, Aramco, with your mercenaries and your public relations office … The political awareness of the people and the king’s attentiveness to the country’s interest will shatter your stubbornness, for we are seekers of rights and justice, and supporters of rights and justice everywhere stand with us in our cause.60 1. View largeDownload slide Editor's warning to Aramco, published in al-Adwaʾ on 6 January 1959. Image courtesy of King Salman Central Library, King Saud University. 1. View largeDownload slide Editor's warning to Aramco, published in al-Adwaʾ on 6 January 1959. Image courtesy of King Salman Central Library, King Saud University. Failing to co-opt the editors, Aramco managed to have al-Adwaʾ shut down with the support of Crown Prince Faisal, who temporarily sidelined his brother and became de facto ruler between October 1958 and December 1960.61 A critical Saudi press nonetheless persevered, and cultural magazines such al-Manhal (The Fountain) and Qureish and dailies such as al-Bilad (The Country) and Harraʾ even featured Saudi and other Arab women writers.62 Influenced by Arab nationalist discourses and emboldened by King Saud’s political and cultural stance, an emerging class of Saudi intellectuals and literary critics thus began to use the press as a platform to censure Aramco and US imperialism. Some even ventured into the world of local politics, criticizing local rule and administrative corruption and debating the role of the individual in governance.63 In addition to print culture, the radio was instrumental in conveying anti-colonial struggles and political ideologies.64 As crown prince, Saud had been the force behind the first radio station in Saudi Arabia, which began broadcasting from Jeddah in October 1949, transmitting local and international news, literary and cultural subjects, and talk shows.65 In the early 1950s, Saud had the station broadcast military marches and songs by local and other Arab singers for the first time in Saudi history.66 For the most part, however, it was used to influence and control pilgrims in Mecca.67 The signals from the radio station were too weak to reach central and eastern parts of the country, however, and these continued to rely on Cairo, Amman, Kuwait and Baghdad for their radio broadcasts and local and regional news updates, all of which were inflected with Arab nationalism. In 1954, therefore, Saud ordered the opening of two more stations, one in Riyadh and the other in Jeddah.68 By then, the radio had become a household staple and audiences across the country were eager to listen to relevant political and educational programmes.69 A regular listener to the Egyptian radio station Sawt al-Arab (Voice of the Arabs), Saud was impressed with how it revolutionized regional politics and shaped the Nasserist loyalties of Arab subjects. As a propaganda tool of the regime, Sawt al-Arab broadcast the views of Jamal Abdel Nasser’s revolutionary regime throughout the Arab world. It also broadcast the ideals and music of secular Arab nationalism, shaping generations of Arab nationalists.70 Following this model, Saud used the new Saudi radio stations to communicate with and influence his subjects and to connect them further with the rest of the Arab world.71 Nationalist songs and popular Arabic music featured regularly.72 By 1958 the national anthem opened each day’s broadcast, following the call to prayer. In the late 1950s, Saudi women began to present programmes, and female Arab nationalist singers such as Umm Kulthum were heard throughout the country.73 These diverse media networks politicized people before and especially after the formation of the Saudi state, but regional and global events were equally important in politically mobilizing people in Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, the nationalization of oil in Iran in 1951, the emergence of the National Union Committee in 1954 and subsequent nationalist mobilizations in Bahrain, the Baghdad Pact of 1955 (later the Central Treaty Organization), and the Suez Crisis of 1956 specifically resonated with and mobilized Saudis to act politically.74 Primary among domestic developments was the opening and continued existence of the Dhahran airfield, which became a battleground for popular and institutional struggles. It also embodied the power struggle between Saud and Faisal and the comparatively progressive or conservative policies, respectively, that each pursued. It was in this politically charged context that Saudis deployed various strands of leftist and nationalist ideologies to address the socio-political worlds they inhabited and to achieve their future aspirations. Despite their political rivalries, they were of one mind in contesting the rule of Al Saud and economic and political imperialism. They regularly challenged increased taxation, the absence of economic development and rigid moral codes.75 Through their activism, travel, transnational solidarity and participation in literary and radio cultures, thousands of Saudis from across the country became central to the radical networks that ultimately shaped world politics in the 1950s. It is in this context of ongoing transnational connections and knowledge networks in the age of anti-colonialism, popular nationalism and Cold War divisions that the successive labour strikes at Aramco, and mid-century political sociabilities more broadly, should be understood. These strikes were not simply isolated developments provoked by foreign oil workers and limited to the oil towns, as much of the literature tells us.76 They were part of an emerging network of leftist and nationalist organization that spanned the kingdom’s regions. The fact that the workers confined their demands to labour rights and benefits was a strategic move born out of necessity and the absence of an organized nationalist movement. In view of Aramco’s successful attempts to undermine the labour movement by accusing it of having purely political aims, the strike leaders were also careful to be seen to separate their personal political beliefs from the labour struggle.77 However, while the thousands of Saudis and Arabs who refused to go to work on 17 October 1953 were inspired and politicized by local and regional developments, members of the workers’ committee who led the strikes were also getting involved in political and community activism across the country. Along with other Aramco employees, some of them became renowned figures within the various nationalist organizations that emerged in the 1950s and 1960s. These included Abdulaziz al-Sunayd,78 Salih ibn Saad al-Zayd, Abd al-Rahman al-Buhayjan79 and Nasir al-Said. Non-Aramco employees, however, were at least as influential in shaping national and political identities. Away from official centres of cultural production, Abdallah al-Tariqi (who later became Saudi Arabia’s first oil minister), Ishaq al-Shaykh Yacoub,80 Abdul Rahman Munif81 and Abdulaziz ibn Muammar, among others, shaped a national identity that transcended class, tribe, sect and, importantly, the regionalism that had intensified following the formation of the state. They played a pivotal role in fostering the awakening national sense of belonging that was only strengthened by the regime’s oppression and by US economic and political imperialism in the early 1950s. This multidimensional history of political subject formation and leftist struggle does not inform periodization or feature in Saudi historiography. It is also rarely addressed, wholly or in part, in scholarship on the kingdom, which largely centres on the history and political economy of oil, authoritarianism and religion. In the few instances in which scholars have tackled leftist political mobilizations in Saudi Arabia, they have done so tangentially, without analysing the complex ways in which they emerged and developed and subsequently shaped twentieth-century culture and politics.82 In more recent years, the critical scholarship of Robert Vitalis and Toby Jones has shed necessary light on US oil imperialism in Saudi Arabia, the labour movement and Shia activism.83 Building on their work, Toby Matthiesen further historicized the role of the Shia in leftist political organizing.84 Significant as these contributions are, they focus primarily on the oil-producing region of the Eastern Province and its predominantly Shia inhabitants, to the detriment of the rest of the country. They neither place these developments in a broader socio-historical context nor paint a clear picture of social, cultural and political life across Saudi Arabia leading to the mid twentieth century and its aftermath. These were extraordinary times in Saudi Arabia for both ruler and ruled. The political solidarities that formed across geographical regions, socio-economic classes and sects, and struggles over the nature of power and the state, all shaped the course of Saudi history. Multiple futures were possible at the time, contrary to what the historiography would have us believe. III THE RADICALIZATION OF POLITICS DURING KING SAUD’S REIGN, 1953–1964 The radicalization and popularization of leftist politics accelerated in Saudi Arabia during the 1950s, just as they were doing in other parts of the world. This exacerbated the power struggle between Saud and Faisal, both of whom reacted in varying and sometimes contradictory ways to socio-political developments, taking advantage of them for their own political expediency. Influenced by Arab nationalism and other more radical discourses, and emboldened by King Saud’s seeming (if instrumental) openness to progressive politics, many Saudis hoped that political and social change within the authoritarian monarchy was on the horizon. Saudis from all parts of the country reached out to the king to express their aspirations for political participation. In a congratulatory note to the new king in 1953, people from the eastern town of Qatif expressed their desire for political representation and power sharing85 (though Ibn al-Juluwi, the amir of the Eastern Province, summoned high-profile Qatifis and reprimanded them for daring to make such requests). In the same year, the people of the western town of Taʾif unprecedentedly sent the king a widely signed petition demanding an elected people’s parliament with legislative powers, the independence of the judiciary, and modern nationwide education.86 Others protested on social issues, such as the people of Burayda, who in 1956 took to the streets and demanded permission to open coffee shops, ride bicycles and abolish the obligatory dress codes. Notably, the 1950s began to witness the emergence of political parties seeking to reform the political, economic and social spheres of the modern state. Several parties even emerged in Nejd, the central plateau region long considered the heartland of Al Saud loyalists. Some wanted to maintain political power under Nejdi control while calling for a national parliament and constitution. They sought to reinforce the Nejdification of national identity, either through the partial inclusion of the Nejdi educated classes in positions of power or through the overthrow of the Saudi monarchy. Others espoused openly nationalist goals and attempted to open branches of Kuwaiti and Bahraini leftist parties in Riyadh. The emergence of political counter-currents in Nejd is significant, particularly in the light of prevalent assumptions that treated the people of Nejd as a singular political unit that wholly supported Al Saud. The regime was therefore especially threatened by the emergence of opposition movements there, and managed to arrest, prosecute or silence most of their founders. Of the various movements against the regime that emerged in Nejd during the 1950s, two stand out: Young Nejd (Nejd al-Fatat) and the Union of the People of the Arabian Peninsula (Ittihad Shaʿb al-Jazira al-Arabiyya). Higher-level Nejdi bureaucrats such as Abdallah al-Tariqi, Nasir al-Manqur, Muhammad Abu al-Khayl and Jamil al-Hujaylan (minister of state and general manager of the Directorate-General of Press and Publications) started the nationalist Young Nejd, modelling it on the late Ottoman Young Turks nationalist reform party. Young Nejd called for a constitution, a parliament, political and fiscal reform, decentralized governance and popular political participation. In spite of the threats it posed to the regime, many Saudis at the time dismissed it as an internal reform movement aimed at increasing the power of Nejdi intellectuals without having a national ideology based on social justice and inclusion.87 Although these bureaucrats failed to rally a popular base, more radical Nejdis, such as Nasir al-Said, were able to capture the popular imagination. As the most ardent opponent of Al Saud, his role in the Aramco strikes in 1953 left him under house arrest in his hometown of Haʾil.88 When King Saud visited the town on 11 December that year upon assuming the throne, al-Said gave a heartfelt speech bemoaning the alarming state of underdevelopment nationally and drawing attention to the suffering of all Saudis, particularly peasants, workers and stateless Bedouins.89 He described Aramco’s oppressive and racist treatment of local and Arab employees, especially those who had led the workers’ strike, and listed some major demands: an elected parliament, the abolition of slavery, the release of all political prisoners and a just constitution that defined the duties of the executive, legislative and judicial authorities. Al-Said’s speech came to constitute the first statement of the Union of the People of the Arabian Peninsula, the political party he later formed. In addition to elaborating on the political and civil rights of workers and citizens, including the Shia, based on social justice and equality, he demanded economic, infrastructural and financial reform and human development.90 In an exceptional move, he called for an end to the influence of Al al-Shaykh, the descendants of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, and what he saw as their corrupt and authoritarian religious rule. Primarily, however, he denounced US imperialism and its agents in Saudi Arabia. On hearing the speech, Saud, infuriated that one of his subjects would impertinently confront him in public, nonetheless pardoned the workers’ committee and, in an attempt to contain their political aspirations, had Aramco reinstate most of them in their jobs. Saud had multiple motives for doing so. On the one hand, he was a product of his time, influenced by political struggles and populist modes of rule in the Arab world, and, according to people who knew him, he hoped to establish a public image of himself as a benevolent ruler. On the other, while he sympathized with some of the workers’ demands, he also used the labour movement to pressure Aramco into increasing the ruling family’s share of petroleum revenue. Al-Said’s unprecedented public speech bears witness to the radically different understandings of relations between state and society that had permeated Saudi Arabia by the early 1950s. It also corroborates the accounts of political optimism that Saudis felt upon Saud’s accession to the throne. Since becoming king, he had increasingly aligned the country ‘with Afro-Asian neutralism as a reaction to Western-sponsored regional defence arrangements and Western policies toward Palestine’.91 Unlike his father, Saud ‘was less friendly toward the West and particularly toward the US’, and US–Saudi relations ‘deteriorated seriously in 1954 when the Saudis rejected a standard MDAP [Military Defense Assistance Program] agreement with the US and terminated US technical assistance to the kingdom’.92 Saudi Arabia’s relations with Aramco also hit an all-time low under Saud when the regime challenged the power the oil company had hitherto enjoyed. To the chagrin of the corporate and imperial powers, Saud took the country closer to Abdel Nasser’s anti-imperialist policies, and indicated openness to establishing diplomatic relations with, and buying arms from, the Soviet Union.93 Despite continued repression by the regime, this turn in foreign policy was not lost on the people of Saudi Arabia, whose demands became even more radical. In 1955, for example, ibn Muammar’s year-old National Reform Front issued a fourteen-page open letter to King Saud conveying the optimism he had inspired in Saudi Arabia’s people as crown prince. The party expressed the hope that, as king, Saud would institute more ‘enlightened rule’ and allow popular participation in government. It also expected the king to ease the policy directions of his ‘uneducated’ father, who ruled his subjects as ‘slaves’ with an iron fist and whose authoritarian rule — fraught as it was with chaos, injustice and the trampling of rights — made ‘complaining’ a feature of the country. The letter put forward a list of demands calling for infrastructural development beyond what Aramco had implemented for its own economic advantage and that of the rulers. It also warned that if Saud maintained the policy of withholding education with the support of the religious establishment and ‘foreign advisers’94 in order to remain in power, and if he failed to respond to people’s hopes and dreams, the consequences would be dire: We would have no choice but to demand, forcefully, violently and insistently, our stolen dignity, freedom and wealth and insecure life. If these demands go unmet, then we must forcefully and with great strength seize them and make you understand that the free people of this nation, within it and beyond, in the Hejaz, Nejd and Asir … and al-Ahsa, Dhahran, Qatif and Khobar, and in the villages and countryside … and in every corner of this country, are determined to retrieve their dignified, free life that you have stolen with all forms of terrorism and malice … at any cost.95 Although ideological differences among members of the Front grew, the group continued to use the language of nationalism, solidarity and rights to demand state reform. As new cadres joined and others defected to more radical groups, and as political life and state policies changed under Saud, the Front became more radicalized and increased its threats and demands. While political groups in Saudi Arabia initially limited their claims to economic and labour issues, by the 1950s they had expanded their use of ‘rights’ to include political and civil rights. That ibn Muammar became one of the king’s closest advisers later in the decade, in spite of the National Reform Front’s radical threats, demonstrates the ways in which popular politics influenced Saud’s battle with Faisal. Indeed, Saud’s position on the US airfield in Dhahran is instructive. The continued existence of the airfield amid a tense Middle East caught in the web of Cold War politics had united many of the regime’s opponents. The airfield was also a point of contention for those who opposed the Baghdad Pact, including Saud himself. Saud wanted an independent and sovereign Saudi Arabia and used the base as leverage to pressure the US government to modernize the Saudi army, navy and air force. In 1956 he ‘set a high price on renegotiation of the Dhahran Air Base agreement’ with the US government.96 He also joined Abdel Nasser and Syria’s president Shukri al-Quwatli in calling for an end to colonialism and imperialism. Abdel Nasser’s visit to Dhahran on 23 September 1956 only emboldened the Saudi opposition, who came out in droves to show support for the populist Arab leader. The opposition that Saudi activists, as well as Abdel Nasser, expressed that day was so sharp that Saud went so far as to blame his father and brother Faisal for the presence of the airbase.97 He also expressed his desire to shut down the base and explained how he was torn between his Arab nationalist loyalties and the urgency of developing Saudi Arabia’s military defences.98 Such rhetoric, coupled with state repression, further radicalized leftist groups in the kingdom. By 1956 various US sources were warning that ‘dissidence within the country is increasing and is noticeable in all sectors of the population’.99 Where the activists and clandestine parties of the early 1950s were strategically reformist in their demands, by the end of the decade most were radicalized, and strengthened their demands and criticisms of the regime, and not just of US imperialism and Aramco. Against all odds, and notwithstanding ideological differences and rivalries, Saudi intellectuals, members of political parties, journalists, labour organizers, writers and literary critics challenged the monarchy and its imperial supporters. Motivated by escalating activism and regional developments, people from all corners of Saudi Arabia formed a plethora of clandestine leftist political parties.100 The majority consisted of secular nationalist parties with Baʿthist, Nasserist or communist orientations. Although communism addressed many of the struggles that Saudis were facing in the first decades of the new state, they identified with left-wing nationalism more broadly. Indeed, Baʿthism and Nasserism held most sway over people’s political beliefs and aspirations, and claimed the lion’s share of political groupings and state institutions across the country. Saudis began to adopt Baʿthism, which propagated a socialist, progressive and revolutionary Arab nationalism in the early 1950s. The Arab Socialist Baʿth Party (Hizb al-Baʿth al-Arabi al-Ishtiraki), set up by Muhammad Rabiʿ and Ali Ghannam in the mid 1950s, was one of the most popular Baʿthist groups. While Baʿthism had earlier roots in the Arab world, Baʿthist organizing remained relatively weak in Saudi Arabia until the revolution that toppled the Hashemite monarchy in Iraq in 1958. This revolution injected new life into Baʿthist activism and anti-colonialism in Saudi Arabia.101 By then, a literary opposition culture had emerged. It was also common to distribute political pamphlets and to express support for causes such as Palestine, Arab nationalism and anti-imperialism, and this further strengthened Baʿthist organizing. In 1961 the party launched its first secret newspaper, Sawt al-Jamahir (Voice of the Masses). Although it had a limited, selective circulation, the paper published news updates and political statements that reached all parts of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Baʿthism reflected the political trajectory of Baʿthism in Syria and Iraq, with similar tensions leading to splintering among the various groups. This brought Saudi Arabia and its people closer to political developments in the rest of the Arab world, making it one of many fronts on which ideological battles were waged in the Middle East during the Cold War. At the same time, Saudis selectively adopted various political ideologies that often bridged tensions between socialism, communism and Arab nationalism in ways that fitted their political context.102 The Revolutionary Student Vanguard (Al-Taliʿa al-Tullabiyya al-Thawriyya, formed in 1962) and the Vanguard of Saudi-Arabian Youth (Shabab al-Taliʿa al-Arabiyya al-Saudiyya, 1964) are examples of such associations that brought together Baʿthists, Arab nationalists and Saudi nationalists.103 Saudis adapted Baʿthism to their local contexts and used it to pursue their domestic political interests, contradicting party directives from Iraq and Syria. They often became involved in direct political, ideological and strategic confrontations with many of the Nasserist Arab nationalists in Saudi Arabia, who outnumbered them. Indeed, Nasserist pan-Arabism resonated more than other political ideologies among men and women across Saudi Arabia, especially among intellectuals, bureaucrats, academics, politicians and members of the ruling family and the army.104 Thus, many radical pan-Arab groups inspired by Nasserism emerged in the kingdom and were largely able to inject public life with ideals of revolutionary Nasserism through their diverse positions in society, seriously challenging official Saudi ideology.105 Oppression by the regime and the crackdown on leftist movements escalated in the late 1950s, especially during Crown Prince Faisal’s premiership between 1958 and 1960 and after 1962.106 Those whom Faisal did not imprison either fled the kingdom or were exiled to other Arab countries. In Beirut, Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo, they continued their anti-Al Saud activism. They initiated branches of existing Saudi political parties or started new ones, often engaging in local politics and sharing their experiences. They also found an Arab press ready and willing to provide a platform from which to censure the reactionary Saudi state. The Front for the Liberation of the Arabian Peninsula (Jabhat Tahrir al-Jazira al-Arabiyya) was one among many exiled opposition parties that published widely in the Arab press, producing pamphlets from the late 1950s, with offices in Lebanon, Egypt and Saudi Arabia distributing thirty thousand copies a week. The party put forward some of the most radical critiques of the Saudi regime. In 1958 it declared the following (see Plate 2): We demand freedom, on which our hope rests, and which we consider food for the soul. Freedom is one of many constitutional rights of each citizen, and we shall not let it be constrained or denied to us … It is us, the people, who fight for the sake of freedom, dignity, complete independence … for the sake of a better life, better society and an ideal, honourable, democratic future. We shall fight until the last breath against those who squander the wealth that belongs to the people, against reactionary terrorist forces, against the brutal dictators, against the traitors and agents of colonialism, and against those who are corrupt like Saud and Faisal … their descendants and their lineage. The freedom- and justice-loving peoples of the free world will support us in our glorious struggle and will stand with us in our bitter fight.107 However, although some Arab activists and regimes supported Saudi leftists in their struggle against authoritarianism, few of the ‘freedom- and justice-loving peoples of the free world’ came to their aid. The much-touted leftist solidarity of the mid twentieth century that had inspired these words did not extend to Saudi Arabia. Saudi leftists were largely left to their own devices to fight the Saudi monarchy and its corporate and political allies, often getting caught up, like ibn Muammar had been, in power struggles among the rulers. 2. View largeDownload slide Pamphlet from the Front for the Liberation of the Arabian Peninsula, 25 April 1958. © American University of Beirut/Library Archives. 2. View largeDownload slide Pamphlet from the Front for the Liberation of the Arabian Peninsula, 25 April 1958. © American University of Beirut/Library Archives. While radical mobilizations threatened the economic and political order in Saudi Arabia and influenced its policies and international relations, ideological defections within the ruling family struck at the heart of the monarchy’s projected security. Many among the family were Arab nationalists, while a few even espoused the revolutionary ideals of Nasserist pan-Arabism embodied in Arab socialism, modernization, industrialization and independence. The emergence of the (Nasserist) Free Princes movement in 1958 threatened the volatile political balance and exacerbated the rivalry between Saud and Faisal. The king’s half-brothers Talal, Abd al-Muhsin, Turki al-Thani, Fawwaz and Badr, who formed the Free Princes, supported Saud and sought to transform the kingdom into a modern constitutional monarchy with a consultative council and political rights for citizens. To the chagrin of the ruling elites, they also wanted to implement reforms within the ruling family and create an internal council that represented the different branches of Al Saud. The Free Princes compounded the alarm that the ruling elites already felt as they faced the emerging popular political life, the spread of radical ideologies, attempted coups, a grave state of affairs financially, and strained relations with the United States and United Kingdom.108 IV CONSOLIDATING AUTHORITARIANISM: THE END OF RADICALISM Crown Prince Faisal had taken advantage of political developments to undermine his brother’s rule since the labour strike at Aramco in 1956. He had played on the fears of the Al Saud family, including powerful members among them such as the Sudairi brothers, who have ruled or otherwise held the top positions in the kingdom since 1982. Within two years they had rallied behind Faisal in his quest to prevail over Saud and shape the Saudi state in line with their vision.109 The first fruit of this new alliance manifested itself in March 1958 when, barely a month after the formation of the United Arab Republic uniting Syria and Egypt, King Saud was accused of orchestrating and financing a failed attempt to assassinate Abdel Nasser.110 Faisal exploited this incident to marginalize Saud further, accusing him of damaging Saudi Arabia’s reputation. Saud was forced to cede his executive powers on all foreign, internal and financial affairs to his younger brother.111 Even then, the rivalry between the brothers continued, shifting alliances within the family as the regime, especially under Faisal, strove to suppress political activism and to shut down all critical publications. The crackdown not only earned Faisal the ire of progressive forces in Saudi society; merchants and others central to the family’s power base also came to oppose him and the austerity measures he was implementing.112 However, Faisal still needed the king’s signature, and he managed the majority of the affairs of state until 20 December 1960, when, on the advice of Abdulaziz ibn Muammar, Saud refused to sign Faisal’s budget and accepted his consequent resignation.113 Two days after his brother’s resignation, Saud reclaimed power over the Council of Ministers, whose members he summarily dismissed.114 Encouraged by popular demand and his political advisers, and in reaction to Faisal and the Sudairi brothers, Saud adopted more radical measures upon resuming power. Notably, he formed a new Council of Ministers that included members of the Free Princes and several other Arab nationalists and socialists.115 This earned the council the popular titles of ‘the nationalist ministry’ (al-wizara al-wataniyya), the ‘ministry of technocrats’ (wizarat al-taknukrat) and the ‘ministry of youth’ (wizarat al-shabab). In an address to the people on 30 December 1960, King Saud stated: Forming this government is only a first step towards achieving what we hope for in terms of the comfort of our people and co-operation with them in managing the public affairs of the country in accordance with our religion and traditions. We shall seek to put in place a basic system of rule (nizam asasi li-l-hukm) that specifies the responsibilities of the people and individuals, delineating their rights and duties according to our religion and the life of the Prophet … . We shall deliver a provincial system (nizam al-muqataʿat) to loosen the reins of government and to achieve decentralization. We shall also announce legal frameworks for companies and hold ministers accountable. We shall reassess some of the regulations that are the target of citizens’ complaints. We shall also pay particular attention to radio broadcasting and the press since they are a good guiding medium. The press will have freedom within the bounds of the law.116 In effect, Saud was laying the ground for the new Arab nationalist political system his regime was about to form, which was supposed to be based on a constitutional monarchy, popular political participation, social justice, accountability and comprehensive statewide modernization.117 The constitution his regime would adopt was based on the one the Free Princes had commissioned Egyptian lawyers to begin drafting in 1959, and which Saud announced on Radio Mecca on 25 December 1960. That announcement was met with excitement and optimism across the kingdom. When, only days later, the station denied the accuracy of the announcement under pressure from Crown Prince Faisal and religious leaders, a Lebanese newspaper published the draft constitution, which Saud had already signed into law.118 The announcement of the constitution was the last straw for Faisal and his supporters. Faisal had been in close contact with the US government since 1956 and had also begun a long propaganda campaign against his brother, paying journalists across the Arab region to depict him as a communist supporter.119 The Lebanese right-wing al-Hayat (The Life), whose editors had very close ties to Aramco, was at the forefront of this campaign. Along with Aramco officials, they helped to frame Saud as a communist, citing his close relationship with people such as Abdulaziz ibn Muammar. They wrongly blamed him for the spread of popular political mobilizations in the 1950s as well as for bankrupting the state. The US government and Aramco also employed public relations firms to improve Faisal’s image worldwide, endorsing campaigns that depicted him as a ‘genius’, a ‘modernizer’ and a ‘desert fox’ in preparation for overthrowing Saud, whose popularity was on the rise because of Faisal’s oppressive policies.120 After a failed attempt to poison Saud in 1962, the king announced that he would not renew the US lease for the Dhahran airbase. In response to this, the US administration and the oil company began to sideline Saud and kept him under close surveillance. In the meantime, Faisal and his supporters within the ruling family worked to undermine Saud and to intimidate the new ministers of state, eventually replacing them with the Sudairi brothers. At the first meeting of Saud’s Council of Ministers, five ministers (Abdallah al-Tariqi, Hasan Nasif, Abdallah al-Dabbagh, Ibrahim al-Suwayil and Nasir al-Manqur) received death threats from the Sudairi brothers demanding their resignations. Since this occurred on the heels of Saud’s dismissal of ibn Muammar under pressure from Faisal, they did not believe Saud would stand up to the powerful Sudairi brothers and complied. Saud accepted their resignations, but, instead of bringing in Faisal as head of the council of ministers as his opponents had anticipated, proceeded to form a new government that excluded his brother, although Faisal was allowed to keep his post as minister of foreign affairs. Subsequently, Prince Talal also resigned and left the country.121 Faisal and his allies continued to marginalize Saud, to reverse his social and cultural policies, and to crush all popular, military and nationalist movements, alarmed as they were by the revolutions in Yemen in 1962 and Dhofar in 1963, which they used to discredit Saud and justify their military spending.122 They also arrested those in power who had sided with Saud against his brother. After the Yemeni revolution and the ensuing ‘Arab Cold War’, Faisal and the Sudairi brothers were given the full support of the US government, as well as military support from the United Kingdom and Israel.123 This allowed them to consolidate their power and dictate the emerging shape of the Saudi state, in spite of the bitter fight, both symbolic and material, against the most popular of Arab leaders, Abdel Nasser. Because it pitted Faisal against Abdel Nasser, this struggle attracted unprecedented internal opposition within Saudi Arabia and exacerbated the regime’s financial, military and political problems. Scores of Saudi air force pilots on assignment to carry military equipment and ammunition to Saudi troops on the Yemeni border defected, landing in various Yemeni and Egyptian airports, where they applied for asylum.124 The Free Princes, with Abdel Nasser’s help, began to organize politically against Faisal from Egypt, where they hosted radio programmes and wrote newspaper articles condemning Saudi Arabia as authoritarian and ‘backward’. These incidents strained Egyptian–Saudi relations even further, as Faisal and Abdel Nasser became bitter rivals until the latter’s death in 1970. On 18 October 1962, with unfettered US support and that of Aramco and much of his family, Faisal was able to force Saud to hand over most of his power, and proceeded to restructure the state and its institutions. He announced a new constitution based on the Qur’an that delineated the responsibilities of the state and those of its citizens, which was criticized by the various opposition movements.125 He then embarked on a campaign to crush all opposition, starting with his brother. In addition to US approval, Faisal had succeeded in garnering the support of the majority of his family, as well as that of the religious establishment.126 He did so through his maternal uncle and the highest religious authority in the country, Shaykh Muhammad ibn Ibrahim, whose warnings about the influence of foreign ideas Saud had ignored years earlier.127 Together, they drafted a petition in 1964 ordering the king to abdicate the throne in favour of Faisal, but, despite great pressure, he refused to sign. After several failed assassination attempts, including blowing up one of Saud’s planes in France, and three months under armed house arrest, during which his family was intensely humiliated, Saud left the country with his family on 2 January 1965, without signing the order.128 Many Saudi political activists had fled the country after 1962 as Faisal’s regime began a large-scale campaign of arresting anyone remotely suspected of belonging to, or having ties with, local or regional political groups.129 Under the pretence of exposing a communist cell in 1964, his security forces terrorized thousands of families in Nejd, the Hejaz, and the Eastern Province, arresting the men and detaining some for years on end without visitation rights. Scores were tortured while in custody, with many permanently injured and some killed.130 Despite the massive waves of arrests and repression, political activism continued, particularly in the aftermath of the Arab–Israeli War of 1967 and the ensuing sense of defeat. Political groups began to transform into different ideological parties with predominantly Marxist nationalist tendencies. For example, one group split completely from the Saudi Baʿth Party in 1966 and started their own Marxist party called the Popular Democratic Front (al-Jabha al-Dimuqratiyya al-Shaʿbiyya), which attracted former Baʿthists and nationalists from Qatif, al-Ahsa, Riyadh and the Hejaz. They believed in armed resistance and trained their members to wage ‘guerrilla wars’ (harb ʿisabat) against the Saudi regime. After the regional Arab Nationalist Movement split immediately following the war in 1967, its leader in Saudi Arabia, Ali al-Quwayfli, supported the left wing of the party under Nayif Hawatma and formed a new group called the National Revolution Party (Munazzamat al-Thawra al-Wataniyya). Members of this new party and those of the Popular Democratic Front became close, and the parties were amalgamated as the Popular Democratic Party (al-Hizb al-Dimuqrati al-Shaʿbi).131 Saudi groups also started to co-ordinate political action more closely with other parties in the Arab world, especially as hundreds of Saudi political activists and defecting soldiers had by then escaped to Beirut, Cairo, Damascus or Sana’a. In 1969 a group of Saudi soldiers under the leadership of Yusuf al-Tawil, and with the help of Abdel Nasser’s government, came together with others who had defected to Egypt, such as Rashad Shisha, to plan a military coup.132 Their goal was to topple the Saudi monarchy and establish republican rule with an elected president. When the CIA discovered the plot and shared it with the Saudis, Faisal’s regime arrested the soldiers and executed many of them.133 That year became known as the ‘year of arrests’, with the regime uncovering all political groups and arresting the majority of their members. The wave of arrests did not slow down until 1972, by which time the prisons of Mecca, Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam were filled with nationalists, both civilian and military, with different ideological affiliations. The opposition had thus been wiped out. Faisal’s regime attributed the rise of the radical mobilizations of the previous decades partly to the lack of a unifying history that privileged the state and the ruling family. This lack was a threat to the cohesion of the imagined nation.134 As king, he therefore sought to generate a homogeneous, Nejdi-based and religiously framed ‘Saudi identity’ set against the competing secular populist ideologies that had challenged Al Saud’s rule and US dominance in the Middle East during the Cold War. It was a political identity that brought together Wahhabi sectarianism and Al Saud’s genealogy. With the support and encouragement of the US government and Aramco, Faisal’s regime thereby injected new life into political religion in the 1960s, and he himself became the engine behind, and symbol of, the Islamization of political, cultural and social life in Saudi Arabia. The Egyptian media, Sawt al-Arab Radio in particular, relentlessly attacked Faisal for entrenching his country in the US imperial sphere and resuming relations with the former imperial power the United Kingdom.135 Since he could not compete with Abdel Nasser’s propaganda machine, he relied on the US government and Aramco to do so. In April 1963 the new regime also transformed the Directorate-General of Press and Publications into the Ministry of Information.136 Less than a year later, in order to eliminate permanently the possibility of an independent, transparent and critical press, Faisal passed the Press Institutions Act, centralizing the publishing industry in Saudi Arabia.137 Thereafter, the regime legally owned a certain percentage of any Saudi newspaper, and all newspaper editors had to work closely with the ministry and its censors. This led to what Hisham Hafiz (whose family owned al-Madina al-Munawwara) called ‘single readership journalism’, citing the late Egyptian journalist Mustafa Amin. Admitting responsibility for not having fought harder for the freedom of the press, Hafiz lamented, ‘Our dreams of a modern and advanced journalism, which was made a reality by hard work and perseverance, became a nightmare that haunted our parents to their graves’.138 V CONCLUSION A new era began in Saudi Arabia in which authoritarianism, bolstered by US imperialism, closed down the possible progressive futures for which Saudis had risked their lives. Many Saudi activists, such as Abdulaziz ibn Muammar, whom King Saud had appointed ambassador to Switzerland away from Faisal’s reach, spent years in solitary confinement upon returning to Saudi Arabia.139 Thousands of others were also imprisoned and regularly beaten and tortured. They were not released until King Khalid, who assumed the throne upon Faisal’s assassination in 1975, issued a blanket pardon for most political prisoners. In place of progressive secular politics, Faisal had nurtured a politically reactionary, religiously conservative, authoritarian monarchy. His regime was also instrumental in implementing US foreign policy in the Middle East, centred as it was on propagating political religion in lieu of secular leftist organizing across the region and beyond. From then on, US–Saudi relations were secure, with a $2 billion arms deal and the influx of US expertise into Arabia blessing the renewed union in 1964.140 Popular leftist movements had thus threatened the political status quo in Saudi Arabia, exacerbated intra-regime rivalries and led to the very making of a religiously legitimized, counter-revolutionary Saudi state. This, in turn, spelled the death knell of secular and popular politics in the country, and strengthened the transnational role of political religion, ultimately enabling Islamism to dominate the political field in the Middle East after 1979. Faisal’s policies and the crushing of the mid-twentieth-century popular mobilizations were prerequisites for the maintenance of Al Saud’s power within an authoritarian, monarchical political system. They were also central to safeguarding US privilege and power in the Cold War order. Far from petro-imperialism solely delineating the US–Saudi relationship, as popular and academic sources tell us, it is imperialism writ large, and the need to crush leftist radicalism and reinforce political Islam in the war against the Soviet Union, that better captures the US–Saudi relationship. US political and corporate support was crucial to the consolidation of the authoritarian Saudi state, its hereditary monarchy and conservative social life. To protect their economic and strategic interests, the US government and Aramco intervened in the daily management of everyday political, social and cultural life in Arabia. Doing so necessitated rendering Arabia as a place without history, its people as apolitical — a perception that is still popular and especially dominant in the Arab states but also in the historiography of Saudi Arabia. Leftists elsewhere in the world, however, are also complicit in the tragic fate of Saudi leftists. In ignoring Saudis’ calls for solidarity, as well as their history of struggle, the global Left has rendered Saudi leftists open to being repressed or dismissed. In doing so, the global Left ultimately reproduces the ideology of the Saudi state and the state’s official historical narrative. Unearthing this neglected archive compels us to reconsider the history of Saudi Arabia and the multiple forces that have created the counter-revolutionary Saudi state. Footnotes 1 Badr al-Kharif, ‘ “Qaim maqam Jeddah”: al-tajir wa-l-muthaqqaf alladhi tahawwal ila muharib wa diplomacy wa athar gadhab al-Baritaniyyin’ [‘Governor of Jeddah’: The Trader and Intellectual Who Became a Warrior and Diplomat and Angered the British], Asharq al-Awsat, 19 Sept. 2008. 2 Robert Vitalis, America’s Kingdom: Mythmaking on the Saudi Oil Frontier (Stanford, 2006). 3 Ali Baqir al-Awwami, ‘Al-haraka al-wataniyya sharq al-Saudiyya, 1953–1973’ [The Nationalist Movement in Eastern Saudi Arabia, 1953–1973], unpubd pdf, 2 vols. (Qatif, 2011), i, 216; my interviews with members of the National Reform Front, Riyadh, 2006–10. 4 Ali al-Dumayni, Zaman lil sijn … azmina lil huriyya [A Time for Prison … Times for Freedom] (Beirut, 2004); al-Awwami, ‘Al-haraka al-wataniyya sharq al-Saudiyya’, i, 212–13. 5 Rosie Bsheer, ‘Making History, Remaking Place: Textbooks, Archives, and Commemorative Spaces in Saudi Arabia’ (Columbia Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 2014); Saudi Arabia: A Disruptive Force in Western–Arab Relations, [United States] Department of State Intelligence Report No. 7144, Prepared by the Division of Research for the Near East, South Asia, and Africa, 18 Jan. 1956, in OSS/State Department, Intelligence and Research Reports, pt xii, The Middle East, 1950–1961 Supplement, ed. Paul Kesaris (Washington, DC, 1979). 6 Vitalis, America’s Kingdom; Rosie Bsheer, review of Sarah Yizraeli, Politics and Society in Saudi Arabia: The Crucial Years of Development, 1960–1982 (New York, 2012), International Journal of Middle East Studies, xlvi, 2 (May 2014); Bsheer, ‘Making History, Remaking Place’. 7 Timothy Mitchell, ‘The Limits of the State: Beyond Statist Approaches and their Critics’, American Political Science Review, lxxxv, 1 (Mar. 1991). 8 Frederick F. Anscombe, State, Faith, and Nation in Ottoman and Post-Ottoman Lands (New York, 2014). 9 For some examples, see Elizabeth Suzanne Kassab, Contemporary Arab Thought: Cultural Critique in Comparative Perspectives (New York, 2009); William L. Cleveland and Martin Bunton, A History of the Modern Middle East (Boulder, 2012); Adeed Dawisha, Arab Nationalism in the Twentieth Century: From Triumph to Despair (Princeton, 2016). 10 Islamist groups such as the Organization of Islamic Revolution in the Arabian Peninsula (Munazamat al-Thawra al-Islamiyya fi al-Jazira al-Arabiyya), Liberation of the Peninsula (Hizb Tahrir al-Jazira), the Daʿwah Society (Jamʿiyyat al-Daʿwa) and the Muslim Brotherhood (al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin) were formed in the 1950s and 1960s. As with the Saudi leftists, their histories have also been excised from the record because they used political religion to challenge the Saudi monarchy. See Abdalaziz al-Khodr, Al-Saudiyya: sirat dawla wa mujtamaʿ. Qiraʾa fi tajrubat thilth qarn min al-tahawulat al-fikriyya wa-l-siyasiyya wa-l-tanmawiyya [Saudi Arabia: Biography of a State and Society. A Reading in a Quarter-Century Experience of Intellectual, Political and Developmental Change] (Beirut, 2011), 829. 11 Saudi Arabia, Department of State Intelligence Report No. 7144, 6–7. 12 Toby Matthiesen, ‘Migration, Minorities and Radical Networks: Labour Movements and Opposition Groups in Saudi Arabia, 1950–1975’, International Review of Social History, lix, 3 (Autumn 2014); John Chalcraft, ‘Migration and Popular Protest in the Arabian Peninsula and the Gulf in the 1950s and 1960s’, International Labor and Working-Class History, lxxix, 1 (Mar. 2011); Sultan Alamer, ‘Al-siyaqat al-mahaliyya lil dimuqratiyya wa al-ʿuruba fi al-mamlaka al-arabiyya al-Saudiyya’ [Local Contexts of Democracy and Arabism in Saudi Arabia], in Sultan Alamer (ed.), Fi tarikh al-ʿuruba: qiraʾat naqdiyya fi hawamish al-zaman wa al-makan [The History of Arabism: Critical Readings on the Margins of Time and Space] (Beirut, 2014). 13 David Priestland, The Red Flag: A History of Communism (New York, 2009); Ilham Khuri-Makdisi, The Eastern Mediterranean and the Making of Global Radicalism, 1860–1914 (Berkeley, 2010); Abdel Razzaq Takriti, Monsoon Revolution: Republicans, Sultans, and Empires in Oman, 1965–1976 (Oxford, 2013). 14 Sune Haugbolle, ‘The Leftist, the Liberal, and the Space in Between: Ziad Rahbani and Everyday Ideology’, Arab Studies Journal, xxiv, 1 (Spring 2016). 15 Mordechai Abir, Saudi Arabia: Government, Society and the Gulf Crisis, 2nd edn (London, 1993). 16 Alexei Vassiliev, The History of Saudi Arabia, 2nd edn (New York, 2000); Madawi Al-Rasheed, A History of Saudi Arabia (London, 2002); John Chalcraft, Popular Politics in the Making of the Modern Middle East (Cambridge, 2016). 17 Interview with Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, Charlie Rose, 19 Sept. 2012 <https://charlierose.com/videos/17449 > (accessed 9 Sept. 2017). 18 Bsheer, ‘Making History, Remaking Place’, ch. 1. 19 Ahmad al-Sibaʿi, Taʾrikh Makka: dirasat fi al-siyasa wa-l-ʿilm wa-l-ijtimaʿ wa-l-ʿumran [Historicizing Mecca: Studies in Politics, Knowledge, Society and Architecture] (Mecca, 1999); Matthiesen, ‘Migration, Minorities and Radical Networks’. 20 Avril Ann Powell, ‘Maulana Rahmat Allah Kairanawi and Muslim–Christian Controversy in India in the Mid-Nineteenth Century’, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, no. 1 (1976), 59–62; Siraj Husayn Fathi, ‘Al-madrassa al-Sawlatiyya: tarikh la yunsa’ [Al-Sawlatiyya School: An Unforgettable History], al-Madina, 6 Jan. 2012; al-Sibaʿi, Taʾrikh Makka, 581. 21 Abd al-Hamid Abd al-Majid Hakim, Nizam al-taʿlim wa siyasatuhu [The Education System and its Policies] (Cairo, 2012). 22 Al-Qibla and al-Hijaz newspapers, as well as Rashid Rida’s al-Manar, provide ample examples of intellectual, political and literary connections between Ottoman Arabia and the rest of the empire and South Asia. See also Husayn Muhammad Nasif, Madi al-Hijaz wa hadiruhu [The Past of the Hejaz and its Present] (Cairo, 1931); Khayr al-Din al-Zirikli, Ma raʾayt wa ma samiʿt min Dimashq ila Makka, 1929 [What I Saw and Heard from Damascus to Mecca, 1929] (Beirut, 2009); Abd al-Aziz al-Rushayd, Tarikh al-Kuwait [The History of Kuwait] (Beirut, 1978), 325. 23 Haytham Muhammad al-Jishi, ‘Al-Imam Hassan Ali al-Badr … al-shaykh al-mujahid’ [Imam Hassan Ali al-Badr … the Fighter Shaykh], Rasid, 17 Sept. 2005. 24 For more on the relations between state and society and the role of religion and tribalism therein, see Abdulaziz H. Al-Fahad, ‘The ʾImama vs. the ʿIqal: Hadari–Bedouin Conflict and the Formation of the Saudi State’, in Madawi Al-Rasheed and Robert Vitalis (eds.), Counter-Narratives: History, Contemporary Society, and Politics in Saudi Arabia and Yemen (New York, 2004); Al-Rasheed, History of Saudi Arabia; Nadav Samin, Of Sand or Soil: Genealogy and Tribal Belonging in Saudi Arabia (Princeton, 2015). 25 Al-Rasheed, History of Saudi Arabia. 26 These include an Arab state under the ashraf of Mecca, a separate Hejazi state, a southern region joining the state of Yemen, and various ideas about territorial formations in the East: see Al-Rasheed and Vitalis (eds.), Counter-Narratives; William Ochsenwald, Religion, Society, and the State in Arabia: The Hijaz under Ottoman Control, 1840–1908 (Columbus, 1984); Tariq Moraiwed Tell, The Social and Economic Origins of Monarchy in Jordan (New York, 2013). 27 William Ochsenwald, ‘Islam and Loyalty in the Saudi Hijaz, 1926–1939’, Die Welt des Islams: International Journal for the Study of Modern Islam, new ser., xlvii, 1 (2007); Toby Matthiesen, The Other Saudis: Shiism, Dissent and Sectarianism (New York, 2015); Rosie Bsheer and John Warner (eds.), Theorizing the Arabian Peninsula, Jadmag Pedagogy Publications, i, 1 (Fall 2013). 28 Robert Vitalis, When Capitalists Collide: Business Conflict and the End of Empire in Egypt (Berkeley, 1995); Elizabeth Thompson, Colonial Citizens: Republican Rights, Paternal Privilege, and Gender in French Syria and Lebanon (New York, 2000); Tell, Social and Economic Origins of Monarchy in Jordan. 29 The Ikhwan Rebellion of 1927 was actually the first serious threat to the emerging rule of Al Saud. However, I do not address it here since it occurred prior to the formal establishment of the state in 1932. It is noteworthy that scholars have written widely about this rebellion at the expense of others, which has in turn reified the ahistorical idea that forms of resistance to Al Saud were merely pre-modern, tribal ones. See David Commins, The Wahhabi Mission and Saudi Arabia (London, 2006); Al-Rasheed, History of Saudi Arabia. 30 Al-Khodr, Al-Saudiyya, 828. 31 Arab Dissident Movements, 1905–1955, ed. A. Burdett, 4 vols. (Cambridge, 1996), ii, 699–736. 32 Al-Awwami, ‘Al-haraka al-wataniyya sharq al-Saudiyya’, i, 306; Al-Rasheed, History of Saudi Arabia. 33 Memorandum from Nabih Amin Faris, Princeton University, to the White House, 24 Oct. 1941: Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, Hyde Park, NY, President’s Secretary’s File, Saudi Arabia, 1933–1945 (1941). 34 Memorandum from H. A. Stuart, director of Naval Petroleum Reserves, the Secretary of the Navy, Navy Department, Washington, 17 May 1941: Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, Hyde Park, NY, President’s Secretary’s File, Saudi Arabia, 1933–1945 (1941). 35 Nate Herring, Public Affairs Office, US Army Corps of Engineers, ‘A Lasting Legacy: The Dhahran Airfield and Civil Air Terminal’, 23 May 2014, <http://www.tam.usace.army.mil/Media/News-Stories/Article/485031/a-lasting-legacy-the-dhahran-airfield-and-civil-air-terminal > (accessed 11 Aug. 2017); Timothy Mitchell, Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil (London, 2013), 208. 36 See King Abdulaziz ibn Saud to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, 10 Mar. 1945: Archive of the Institute of Public Administration, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (hereafter IPA), letter no. 45/1/4/26. 37 Fahd al-Qahtani, Shuyuʿiyyun fi al-Saudiyya: dirasah fi al-ʿalaqat al-Sufyatiyya al-Saudiyya, 1902–1988 [Communists in Saudi Arabia: A Study of Saudi–Soviet Relations, 1902–1988] (London, 1988). 38 Laurence Louër, ‘The Political Impact of Labor Migration in Bahrain’, City and Society, xx, 1 (2008), 34–5; my interviews. 39 Iran’s communist Tudeh Party was central in spreading Marxist thought in Bahrain, and the popular National Liberation Front of Bahrain (Jabhat al-Tahrir al-Watani al-Bahraniyya), which was formed in 1955, was a product of Marxist ideology. In Oman the strongest Marxist party was the Popular Front for the Liberation of Oman (Al-Jabha al-Shaʿbiyya li-Tahrir Oman) and, later, of Dhofar. While Marxist influence and politics were also strong in Yemen, here I am addressing Gulf states only. See Takriti, Monsoon Revolution. 40 The regime and Aramco took institutional and security measures to counter growing socialist influences: Vitalis, America’s Kingdom; Abd al-Rahman al-Ahmari, ‘Dawr sharikat al-zayt al-Arabiyya al-Amrikiyya fi tanmiyyat al-mantaqa al-sharqiyya min al-mamlaka al-Arabiyya al-Saudiyya’ [The Role of the Arabian American Oil Company in Developing the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia] (King Saud Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 2006). 41 ‘Bayan Aramco + Taʿliq al-Adwaʾ = al-Haqiqa’ [Aramco’s Statement + Commentary by al-Adwaʾ = The Truth], al-Adwaʾ, 2 Dec. 1958. 42 Saudis began to attend communist conferences in places like Georgia in the 1950s, but their relationship with the Soviet Union has always been ambivalent, especially with the latter’s recognition of the state of Israel in 1948. 43 Shafeeq N. Ghabra, Palestinians in Kuwait: Family and the Politics of Survival (Boulder, 1987); my interviews, Riyadh, 2010. 44 Alamer, ‘Al-siyaqat al-mahaliyya lil dimuqratiyya wa al-ʿuruba fi al-mamlaka al-arabiyya al-Saudiyya’. 45 ‘Mandili la tabki, qablak bakayna, hatta hamam al-bayt, yashhad ʿalayna’, al-Hijaz, <http://www.alhejazi.net/seyasah/0111508.htm > (accessed 14 Jan. 2013, no longer available). 46 Nasir al-Said, Tarikh al-Saud [History of Al Saud] (Mecca, 1984), 652–7. 47 Saad al-Jihinni, ‘Al-haraka al-islahiyya fi al-Saudiyya’ [The Reform Movement in Saudi Arabia], al-Hiwar al-Mutammadin, 22 May 2005; ‘Muhawalat al-ʾinqilab ʿala al-nizam al-malaki al-Saudi’ [Attempts to Topple the Saudi Monarchical Regime], <http://www.liberalls.net/vb/archive/index.php/t-15187.html > (accessed 5 Apr. 2016, no longer available). 48 ‘History of the National Guard’, Asharq al-Awsat, 11 Sept. 2006. 49 Anthony Gorman, Historians, State and Politics in Twentieth Century Egypt: Contesting the Nation (London, 2003), 72. 50 On Saudis studying in the Soviet Union, see Najib al-Khunazyi, ‘Rahil al-Ghanim … wa tajribat al-dirasah fi al-Ittihad al-Sufyati’ [The Passing of Ghanim … and the Experience of Studying in the Soviet Union], Okaz, 18 Feb. 2012, <http://www.okaz.com.sa/new/issues/20120218/Con20120218478966.htm > (accessed 12 Aug. 2017). 51 Al-Awwami, ‘Al-haraka al-wataniyya sharq al-Saudiyya’, i, 82–90. 52 Ibid.; my interviews. 53 See n. 77. 54 See Toby Craig Jones, Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia (Cambridge, Mass., 2010). 55 Al-Awwami, ‘Al-haraka al-wataniyya sharq al-Saudiyya’, i, 142, 185. 56 I have a complete archive of the newspaper, now out of print. 57 ‘Bayan Aramco + Taʿliq al-Adwaʾ = al-Haqiqa’; ‘Maʿna al-kafaʾa wa-l-ikhlas fi Aramco …’ [The Meaning of Competence and Loyalty at Aramco …], 3 Dec. 1958; ‘Ahsini al-muʿamalah: min muwwadhafiki wa ʿummaluki ya Aramco’ [Improve your Treatment: From your Employees and Workers to You, Aramco], 9 Dec. 1958; Abdul Wahhab Aashi, ‘Ma hakadha ayyuha al-Amriki al-masʾul yuhsin an tatakallam’ [You Should Not Speak in this Manner, Oh American Official], 3 Dec. 1958; ‘Madha antajat hamalat al-Adwaʾ ʿala Aramco?’ [What Have al-Adwaʾ Campaigns against Aramco Produced?], 30 Dec. 1958; all in al-Adwaʾ. 58 Muhammad Saeed al-ʿAwdha, ‘Al-dawla wa-l-sinaʿah wa-l-ihtikar’ [Government, Manufacturing and Monopolism], al-Adwaʾ, 9 Dec. 1958. 59 See Abu Nazih, ‘Huquq!’ [Rights!], al-Adwaʾ, 12 Aug. 1958. 60 Muhammad Saeed Baʿshen, ‘Lan nakhdaʿ ya Aramco!’ [We Shall Not Submit to You, Aramco!], al-Adwaʾ, 6 Jan. 1959. 61 On the shutting down of al-Adwaʾ, see Abd al-Fattah Abu Mudin, Watilka al-ayyam [Those Were the Days] (Jeddah, 1985), 66. 62 See al-Manhal (Jan. 1956); Hatoon Ajwad el-Fassi, ‘Does Saudi Feminism Exist?’, in Jean Said Makdisi, Noha Bayoumi and Rafif Rida Sidawi (eds.), Arab Feminisms: Gender and Equality in the Middle East (London, 2014), 123. 63 Al-Awwami, ‘Al-haraka al-wataniyya sharq al-Saudiyya’, i, 131; Abu Mudin, Watilka al-ayyam, 66–71. 64 Bsheer, ‘Making History, Remaking Place’, 55–7. 65 Royal decree no. 7/3/16/3997, 19 July 1949: IPA. See also Abdulrahman Saleh Shobaili, ‘An Historical and Analytical Study of Broadcasting and Press in Saudi Arabia’ (Ohio State Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1971), 150–2. 66 Shobaili, ‘Historical and Analytical Study of Broadcasting and Press in Saudi Arabia’, 150. 67 Royal decree no. 150, 20 Oct. 1952, in Umm al-Qura, 31 Oct. 1952: IPA. 68 Salim Wakim, Al-malik Saud: muʾassis al-dawla al-Saudiyya al-haditha [King Saud: Founder of the Modern Saudi State] (Beirut, 1966), 86. 69 ‘Special Issue on Saudi Arabian Radio’, al-Manhal (Nov. 1951), 89–104. 70 Laura M. James, ‘Whose Voice? Nasser, the Arabs, and “Sawt al-Arab” Radio’, Transnational Broadcasting Studies, xvi (2006), <http://tbsjournal.arabmediasociety.com/James.html > (accessed 8 Aug. 2017). 71 Royal decree no. 7/3/16/1007 on the Directorate-General of Radio Broadcasting, 10 Feb. 1955: King Saud Archive online, <http://www.kingsaud.org/ar/archives/subarticle/no-english-title-available-yet/1337 > (accessed 9 Sept. 2017); royal decree no. 1971, document no. 7676, 26 June 1956, 171: King Saud’s personal library, Jeddah; Shobaili, ‘Historical and Analytical Study of Broadcasting and Press in Saudi Arabia’. 72 Wakim, Al-malik Saud, 87. Al-Idhaʿa was a literary and news magazine, established in November 1955, that published a monthly schedule of Arabic and foreign-language programmes; it survived until 1966. Everything Sawt al-Arab broadcast was transcribed in this magazine as per royal decree no. 7/3/16/1007. 73 Virginia Danielson, The Voice of Egypt: Umm Kulthūm, Arabic Song, and Egyptian Society in the Twentieth Century, paperback edn (Chicago, 1998). 74 For the nationalist movement in Bahrain, see Omar Al-Shehabi, ‘Political Movements in Bahrain: Past, Present, and Future’, Jadaliyya, 14 Feb. 2012, <http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/4363/political-movements-in-bahrain_past-present-and-fu > (accessed 8 Aug. 2017). 75 Mansur al-Naqaydan, Al-muluk al-muhtasibun: al-Amr bi-l-Maʿruf wa-l-Nahi ʿan al-Munkar fi al-Saudiyya, 1927–2007 [Volunteering Kings: Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice in Saudi Arabia, 1927–2007] (Dubai, 2010); al-Awwami, ‘Al-haraka al-wataniyya sharq al-Saudiyya’, ii, 8–10; Saudi Arabia, Department of State Intelligence Report No. 7144, 7. 76 Al-Rasheed, History of Saudi Arabia; Matthiesen, Other Saudis; Vitalis, America’s Kingdom; Daniel Yergin, The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power, paperback edn (New York, 2008). 77 For the effectiveness of the labour movement and its almost persuading King Saud of their aims, see Sultan al-Jumayri, ‘Hadith ʿan al-tajriba al-nidaliyya al-ʿummaliyya fi al-Saudiyya’ [On the Experience of the Workers’ Struggle in Saudi Arabia], al-ʿAsr, 24 Feb. 2013, <http://bit.ly/2byhEb5 > (accessed 12 Aug. 2017). For detailed accounts of the Aramco strikes in 1953 and 1956, see Vitalis, America’s Kingdom; Jones, Desert Kingdom. 78 Abdulaziz al-Sunayd (1922–2012) was born in Iraq to Saudi parents who had migrated there in search of employment. The thriving communist ideologies he encountered at school there greatly influenced him. He started a law degree but dropped out to join the Aramco labour force in Saudi Arabia in the late 1940s; there he was elected president of the workers’ committee. After leaving Aramco, he was employed at the Work and Workers’ Office in Dammam. He was involved in both the labour movement and the national struggle, and was elected to the municipal council in Dammam. After spending time in prison for activism, he was exiled to Lebanon. He spent the rest of his life in Beirut and Damascus, where in 1975, together with friends, he started a newspaper, Sawt al-Jazira al-Arabiyya (Voice of the Arabian Peninsula), and a radio station of the same name. See al-Awwami, ‘Al-haraka al-wataniyya sharq al-Saudiyya’, i, 105–7. 79 A Marxist nationalist intellectual from the Nejdi town of Unayzah, Abd al-Rahman al-Buhayjan worked as an office boy for Aramco, where he became an avid reader. He was soon promoted to an administrative position in the Ras Tanura branch, where he had unfettered access to books on politics, Marxist thought and English literature. At gatherings after work he was known to recite the slogan ‘Workers of the world, unite!’ He played a crucial role in the Saudi cultural and nationalist awakening, for which he spent many years in prison. He became a member of the National Reform Front as well as of other political parties. See Ali al-Dumayni, ‘Jalsa maʿ Abd al-Rahman al-Buhayjan wa hadith ʿan “lajnat al-ʿummal” ’ [A Discussion with Abd al-Rahman al-Buhayjan on the ‘Workers’ Committee’], Manbar al-Hiwar wa-l-Ibdaʿ, 1 Sept. 2012, <http://menber-alionline2.info/forum.php?action=view&id=13330 > (accessed 5 May 2013, no longer available). 80 Ishaq al-Shaykh Yacoub was born in eastern Saudi Arabia and studied at the Jubayl elementary school, founded by his father in 1948. He worked for an oil-drilling and export company before he joined Aramco and then the Trans-Arabian Pipeline (Tapline) Company. He spent his holidays in Basra, Iraq, where he was exposed to communist literature, and smuggled communist pamphlets into Saudi Arabia. In 1954 he co-founded the National Reform Front. Ahmad Alwasel, ‘Al-shuyuʿi al-ʿatiq Ishaq al-Shaykh Yacoub’ [The Staunch Communist Ishaq al-Shaykh Yacoub], Jadaliyya, 3 May 2012, <http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/5339 > (accessed 12 Aug. 2017). 81 A Baʿthist Saudi national who worked in Iraq’s oil industry, Abdelrahman Munif is the author of the Cities of Salt quintet, a scathing critique of oil imperialism and the ways in which it destroyed the Arabian Peninsula’s environment and socio-political bonds: Abdelrahman Munif, Mudun al-mulh (Beirut, 1984), trans. Peter Theroux as Cities of Salt: A Novel (New York, 1987). The Saudi regime stripped Munif of his citizenship because of his writing. 82 Abir, Saudi Arabia; Vassiliev, History of Saudi Arabia; Al-Rasheed, History of Saudi Arabia; Sarah Yizraeli, The Remaking of Saudi Arabia: The Struggle between King Sa’ud and Crown Prince Faysal, 1953–1962 (Syracuse, NY, 1998); Steffen Hertog, Princes, Brokers, and Bureaucrats: Oil and the State in Saudi Arabia (Ithaca, NY, 2011). 83 Vitalis, America’s Kingdom; Jones, Desert Kingdom. 84 Matthiesen, Other Saudis. 85 Al-Awwami, ‘Al-haraka al-wataniyya sharq al-Saudiyya’, i, 150. 86 Al-Taliʿa, no. 1 (1973), 34. 87 ‘Al-muʿarada al-Saudiyya wa al-infisal: al-muʿarada al-Najdiyya’ [Saudi Opposition and Secession: The Nejdi Opposition], Rasid, <https://www.rasid.com/index.php//gal.php?act=artc&id=20725 > (accessed 20 Jan. 2013, no longer available). 88 Jamʿiyyat al-Islah al-Watani, ‘Kitab maftuh ila jalalat al-malik Saud’ [Open Letter to King Saud], 1955: Archives of the American University of Beirut (hereafter AUB), Arabian Peninsula File; al-Said, Tarikh al-Saud, 112–18. 89 Al-Said, Tarikh al-Saud, 112–18. 90 Ibid. 91 Saudi Arabia, Department of State Intelligence Report No. 7144, 12. 92 Ibid., 15. 93 A. Yodfat and M. Abir, In the Direction of the Gulf: The Soviet Union and the Persian Gulf (London, 1977), 37. 94 ‘Saud bayn al-shuyukh wa-l-mustasharin’ [Saud between the Religious Leaders and the Advisers], al-Hayat, 12 June 1955. Many opposition publications claimed that the foreign advisers to Saudi rulers worked in their own private interests, which required them to keep ordinary Saudis in ignorance. They accused them, and sometimes even the religious establishment, of being reactionaries hostile to the people and to intellectuals. 95 Jamʿiyyat al-Islah al-Watani, ‘Kitab maftuh ila jalalat al-malik Saud’, 10. 96 Saudi Arabia, Department of State Intelligence Report No. 7144, 17; Wakim, Al-malik Saud, 208. 97 Wakim, Al-malik Saud, 70. 98 In America’s Kingdom, 184–5, Robert Vitalis explains how the Suez Crisis and the nationalization of the Suez Canal depleted the Saudi budget, especially after Egypt and Saudi Arabia signed a mutual defence pact. Vitalis corrects the record, stating that it was King Saud, and not Faisal as is generally assumed, who commissioned the International Monetary Fund to overhaul the Saudi monetary system and, in doing so, brought ‘the kingdom back from the brink’. See also Salman ibn Saud Al Saud, Tarikh al-malik Saud ibn Abd al-Aziz, 1319–1389h/1902–1969m [The History of King Saud ibn Abd al-Aziz, 1319–1389/1902–1969], 3 vols. (Beirut, 2005), ii, 28–9. 99 Saudi Arabia, Department of State Intelligence Report No. 7144, 6–7. 100 There were too many political organizations in mid-century Saudi Arabia to discuss them in detail here, but they included the Knowledge Society for the Struggle (Jamʿiyyat al-ʿIlm li-l-Nidal), formed by Hassan al-Jishshi in 1949; the Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of the Arabian Peninsula (al-Jabha al-Shaʿbiyya al-Dimuqratiyya li-Tahrir al-Jazira al-Arabiyya), a Marxist organization of oil workers formed in 1960; the Union of the People of the Arabian Peninsula (Ittihad Shaʿb al-Jazira al-Arabiyya, 1961); the Saudi Communist Party (1961); the Revolutionary Student Guard (al-Taliʿa al-Tullabiyya al-Thawriyya), a Baʿthist student organization (1962); the Socialist Front for the Liberation of the Arabian Peninsula (al-Jabha al-Ishtirakiyya li-Tahrir al-Jazira al-Arabiyya, 1963); the Nationalist Democratic Party (al-Hizb al-Dimuqrati al-Shaʿbi), a pro-Palestinian Marxist organization of workers and students (1969); the Front for the Liberation of the Arabian Peninsula (Jabhat al-Tahrir al-Arabiyya al-Saudiyya), a grouping of intellectuals, academics and officers in the Saudi air force in the Eastern Province and the Hejaz united by their republicanism. See Abd al-Wahhab al-ʿAridh, ‘Al-nukhab wa muʾassassat al-mujtamaʿ al-madani’ [Elites and Civil Society Institutions], al-Manbar, 21 Jan. 2009, <http://menber-alionline2.info/pdf/show.php?id=4944 > (accessed 2 May 2013, no longer available); al-Khodr, Al-Saudiyya, 830–2. 101 Baghdad Radio (Idhaʿat Baghdad) regularly broadcast specifically to the Arabian Peninsula, and the Baʿth Party issued an intellectual political magazine called Sawt al-Taliʿa (Voice of the Vanguard), which continued to be published until the early 1980s: al-Khodr, Al-Saudiyya, 832. 102 In the context of Iraq, Orit Bashkin refers to such political ideologies as ‘hybrid nationalisms’: Orit Bashkin, The Other Iraq: Pluralism and Culture in Hashemite Iraq (Stanford, 2009). 103 Al-Khodr, Al-Saudiyya, 830. 104 My oral history interviews reveal that Saudi women supported Arab nationalism equally strongly and at times took Arab nationalist positions in their journalistic, literary, poetic and other writings. Many even played a crucial role in circulating leftist literature and pamphlets, protecting male members of the organizations and providing other supportive roles. See also el-Fassi, ‘Does Saudi Feminism Exist?’, 126. 105 Al-Khodr, Al-Saudiyya, 832. 106 For a detailed study of the power struggle between King Saud and Prince Faisal, see Yizraeli, Remaking of Saudi Arabia. 107 Jabhat Tahrir al-Jazira al-Arabiyya (al-Saudiyyin al-Ahrar) [Front for the Liberation of the Arabian Peninsula (the Free Saudis)], pamphlet 6, 25 Apr. 1958: AUB, Arabian Peninsula File. 108 Saudi Arabia, Department of State Intelligence Report No. 7144; Nathan J. Citino, From Arab Nationalism to OPEC: Eisenhower, King Saʿūd, and the Making of US–Saudi Relations, 2nd edn (Bloomington, 2002). 109 The Sudairi brothers are the sons of King Abdulaziz and Hussa bint Ahmad al-Sudairi, who was allegedly his favourite wife. They include the late King Fahd, the late crown princes Sultan and Nayif, the current king, Salman, and the three powerful princes Abd al-Rahman, Turki and Ahmad. 110 Muhammad Hassanayn Haykal, Al-istiʿmar liʿbatahu al-malik [The King Is Colonialism’s Toy] (Cairo, 1967); Vassiliev, History of Saudi Arabia. 111 Royal decree no. 42, 23 Mar. 1958: IPA. 112 Faisal’s Financial Reforms, March 1958–January 1960, [United States] Department of State Intelligence Report No. 8215, 28 Jan. 1960, in OSS/State Department, Intelligence and Research Reports, pt xii, ed. Kesaris. 113 Royal decree no. 35, 22 Dec. 1960, in Umm al-Qura, 23 Dec. 1960: IPA. 114 Royal decree no. 36, 22 Dec. 1960, in Umm al-Qura, 23 Dec. 1960: IPA. 115 Royal decree no. 37, 22 Dec. 1960, in Umm al-Qura, 23 Dec. 1960: IPA. 116 Wakim, Al-malik Saud, 254; ‘Bayan ʿan siyasat al-hukuma al-dakhiliyya wa al-kharijiyya’ [Statement on the Government’s Internal and Foreign Policies], Umm al-Qura, 30 Dec. 1960: IPA. 117 ‘Al-nizam al-asasi, 1959–1960’ [The Basic Law], al-Jaridah, 27 Dec. 1960; Al-nizam al-asasi, 1959–1960 [The Basic Law], King Saud’s personal library, Jeddah. 118 Wakim, Al-malik Saud, 274; ‘Al-nizam al-asasi’. 119 For Faisal’s contacts with the US government, see Muhammad Hassanayn Haykal, Sanawat al-ghalayan [The Boiling Years] (Cairo, 1988), 634. 120 Haykal, Al-istiʿmar liʿbatahu al-malik, 75; Wakim, Al-malik Saud, 301. 121 Al-Awwami, ‘Al-haraka al-wataniyya sharq al-Saudiyya’, ii, 35–7. 122 Muhammad Hassanayn Haykal argues that, in his first year as king, Faisal spent £E2 million on the Palestinian cause, as opposed to £E20 million in the first month of his reign alone to crush the Yemeni Revolution: Haykal, Al-istiʿmar liʿbatahu al-malik, 16. 123 Malcolm H. Kerr, The Arab Cold War: Gamal ʿAbd al-Nasir and his Rivals, 1958–1970, 3rd edn (London, 1971); Ronen Bergman, ‘The Officer Who Saw Behind the Top-Secret Curtain’, Ynetnews, 21 June 2015, <http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4671127,00.html > (accessed 13 Aug. 2017); Nuʿman Abd al-Wahid, ‘How Zionism Helped Create the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’, Mondoweiss, 7 Jan. 2016, <http://mondoweiss.net/2016/01/zionism-kingdom-arabia > (accessed 13 Aug. 2017). 124 Foreign Ministry, Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Beirut, ‘Official Announcement from the Ministry of Defense’, 20 Mar. 1963, and ‘Statement of the Spokesperson of the Saudi Foreign Ministry’, 29 May 1963: both in AUB, Arabian Peninsula File; Haykal, Al-istiʿmar liʿbatahu al-malik, 135; Haykal, Sanawat al-ghalayan, 625; Saad al-Jihinni, ‘Al-haraka al-islahiyya fi al-Saudiyya’; ‘Muhawalat al-ʾinqilab ʿala al-nizam al-malaki al-Saudi’. 125 Foreign Ministry, Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Beirut, ‘Ministerial Decree that Faisal Issued’, 1963: AUB, Arabian Peninsula File. 126 For a more detailed account of Aramco’s role in the struggle for power between King Saud and Crown Prince Faisal, see Haykal, Al-istiʿmar liʿbatahu al-malik, 41, 75; Vitalis, America’s Kingdom, 205–27. For the CIA’s role in Saudi and Arab affairs more generally, see Irene L. Gendzier, ‘Oil, Politics, and US Intervention’, in Wm Roger Louis and Roger Owen (eds.), A Revolutionary Year: The Middle East in 1958 (London, 2002); ʿAbdallah al-Tariqi: al-aʿmal al-kamila [Abdallah al-Tariqi: Complete Works], ed. Walid Khadduri, 2nd edn (Beirut, 2005), 350–3; Douglas Little, ‘Pipeline Politics: America, Tapline, and the Arabs’, Business History Review, lxiv, 2 (1990); Fawwaz Traboulsi, A History of Modern Lebanon (New York, 2007); Vitalis, America’s Kingdom; Wakim, Al-malik Saud; Hugh Wilford, America’s Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East (New York, 2013). 127 Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Beirut, official statement announcing Faisal as the new king, 2 Nov. 1964: AUB, Arabian Peninsula File. 128 In a speech to ‘the Arab Saudi people’ broadcast on Radio Mecca on 21 March 1963, Saud described how his plane had exploded close to the Italian border after he disembarked in Nice. Referring to his opponents among the ruling family, he said, ‘You know well who is behind these conspiracies and disgraceful acts’. Transcribed as ‘Royal Letter to the People of Saudi Arabia from King Saud’, Foreign Ministry, Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Beirut, 21 Mar. 1963: AUB, Arabian Peninsula File; my interview with Princess Fahda bint Saud, Jeddah, 5 June 2011. 129 Al-Awwami, ‘Al-haraka al-wataniyya sharq al-Saudiyya’, ii, 80. 130 Ahmad Adnan, Al-Sajin 32: Ahlam Muhammad Saʿid Tayyib wa hazaʾimah [Prisoner 32: The Dreams of Muhammad Saʿid Tayyib and his Defeats], 2nd edn (Al-Dar al-Baydaʾ, Morocco, 2011); al-Awwami, ‘Al-haraka al-wataniyya sharq al-Saudiyya’, ii; Turki al-Hamad, Al-karadib [The Prison Cells] (Beirut, 1998). 131 See al-Awwami, ‘Al-haraka al-wataniyya sharq al-Saudiyya’, ii, 251, 365. 132 Ibid., ii, 257; Adnan, Al-Sajin 32, 66, 78, 94, 128. 133 Adnan, Al-Sajin 32, 129. 134 Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, 1st edn (New York, 1983). 135 Haykal, Sanawat al-ghalayan, 632. In 1957 the Saudi regime spent $1.4 million on broadcasting services, or 0.5 per cent of the $310 million state budget. In 1968–9 alone, spending increased to more than $22 million, or 1.8 per cent of the $1.25 billion budget. Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, Saudi Arabia: Budget for the Year 1388/9 A.H. (Jeddah, 25 Sept. 1968). 136 Royal decree no. A134, 4 Apr. 1963, <http://www.info.gov.sa/Section.aspx?id=1 > (accessed 14 June 2013, no longer available). 137 Abu Mudin, Watilka al-ayyam. 138 Hisham Ali Hafiz, ‘Indispensable Clarification’, <http://www.hishamalihafiz.com/books_about.htm > (no longer available). For more on the history of the press in Saudi Arabia, see Uthman Hafiz, Tatawur al-sahafa fi al-mamlaka al-Arabiyya al-Saudiyya [The Development of the Press in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia] (Jeddah, 1989), 261–3. 139 Al-Awwami, ‘Al-haraka al-wataniyya sharq al-Saudiyya’, ii, 24–6. 140 Haykal, Al-istiʿmar liʿbatahu al-malik, 10; Wakim, Al-malik Saud, 305. Faisal also signed an arms deal with the United Kingdom worth £50 million. © The Past and Present Society, Oxford, 2018

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Past & PresentOxford University Press

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