Saudi Arabia celebrated its 88th National Day on September 23, the day when the unification of the nation was complete. This day sums up historic, civilized and humanitarian efforts made by Founder King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al Saud, our historic hero who united the country and brought stability and security.
Saudis celebrated this day in an unprecedented manner this year. The country faces no obstacles on its path and it’s again celebrating and voicing its joy. Saudis never forget their country for a moment, but they were deprived of these celebrations for decades because of the spread of the influence of the so-called ‘Al-Sahwa’, whose hardline extremism prevented all expressions of joy as it spread depression and extremism.
In this prosperous era of Saudi Arabia, major historical feats and huge projects were accomplished and people became happy for their country. The National Day celebrations were held all over the kingdom this time. Everyone participated from government institutions and the people to private sector establishments and the citizenry, in their own special ways. The country evoked in everyone feelings of love, pride and glory.
The National Day brings to the fore this history for the youth, who constitute 70% of the Saudi population to treasure at the current moment in which they live in peace and luxury and have aspirations for the futureAbdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi
1979: The three calamities
The Saudi Crown Prince spoke of 1979 more than once and said it was a crucial year for Saudi Arabia, for the region and the world. In this year, three major disasters took place. Internally there was the Juhayman al-Otaybi revolt, when the terrorist led the Grand Mosque Seizure. Regionally, Khomeini’s revolution broke out and overthrew the Shah of Iran and internationally the Cold War intensified with the Soviets entering Afghanistan. ‘Al-Sahwa’ discourse spread after that year.
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Saudi Arabia along with its major allies around the world supported Afghanistan and fiercely confronted the evils of the Khomeini revolution which continue to sponsor and spread terrorism. Moreover, it supported certain religious trends considering them as good people, with good intentions, until a crucial moment came in the nation’s history, when Saddam Hussein occupied Kuwait and threatened Saudi borders.
This was a historic moment, in which all the figures and groups of political Islam inside Saudi Arabia and around the world agreed on opposing Saudi Arabia and wished to overthrow the state and its political regime.The Muslim Brotherhood and all its branches supported Saddam Hussein. Other Islamist figures inside Saudi Arabia from among the Muslim Brotherhood, Sururism, Hizbut-Tahrir and others took a position that spread divisions and affected national unity.
Betrayal of extremists
The National Day brings to the fore this history for the youth, who constitute 70% of the Saudi population to treasure at the current moment in which they live in peace and luxury and have aspirations for the future. They are reminded of this history so they treasure Saudi Arabia’s support for openness, tolerance and moderation and so they understand the importance of the strict confrontation against extremism and terrorism. Focusing on historical moments and comparing them with present times shows the extent of moving towards the future and elimination of all obstacles.
King Fahd discovered the betrayal of Islamist groups and figures internally and externally and realized that the historical Saudi alliance with the West is the right alliance and that nationalists, the Baathists and the leftists are all enemies who wish the worst for Saudi Arabia. He also realized that all the offers that he received from representatives of political Islam were made out of political foolishness that included hostility for Saudi Arabia, from the extremists to the Muslim Brotherhood’s positions that supported Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.
Those did not forget their history with Saudi Arabia and could not overcome the fact that all their symbols have gone, while Saudi Arabia is still here and that they lost while Saudi Arabia has won. King Fahd knew this pretty well as history is known and the positions are well documented.
This historical change in King Fahd’s position was not a wish of a writer or a reinterpretation of history. It was what was understood later as facts were exposed. King Fahd understood very well that the alliance with Islamists was only a stage dictated by international, regional and internal balances. When Al-Sahwa exposed a resident enemy and the Muslim Brotherhood emerged as a traitor, facts became clear, thus the orientation changed.
Continuity in policy
But how did this historical change appear and how was it detected and revealed? The first indicator was King Fahd’s strict orders to arrest prominent figures of Al-Sahwa, who were the enemies of the state and its stability at that time. Those figures included Safar Al-Hawali and Salman al-Ouda. He also expressed a serious desire to go back to the openness of society before Al-Sahwa’s emergence and blessed establishing media institutions that would lead Saudi and Arab openness, thus MBC was established with his support and his vision.
There are two important additions to these positions. The first was from Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz during his interview with Kuwaiti newspaper Al Seyassah in 2002, where he talked about details of the betrayal of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamist groups inside and outside Saudi Arabia. He narrated amazing details which was not known after the liberation of Kuwait. These details showed what facts King Fahd was aware of – facts that a king with his wisdom and awareness cannot overlook.
The second one was from Algerian Major General Khaled Nezzar. In his diary published in 2012, Nezzar who had met King Fahd after the liberation of Kuwait spoke about the king’s opinion in political Islam groups and its symbols. He said: “He began talking about Islamists and said: the cane, the cane, the cane. He repeated it three times.”
As Saudi Arabia celebrates its 88th National Day with new and decisive stances on the domestic and foreign levels and categorizes the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group, it would be resuming its decisions since King Fahd to King Abdullah and to King Salman along with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has affirmed that Saudi Arabia will return to the pre-1979 way of life.
In the end, Saudi Arabia on its National Day has confronted the three industries of political Islam with these three Saudi industries. It has confronted “making discontent” with “making welfare,” “making frustration” with “making hope” and “making death” with “making life.”
This article is also available in Arabic.
Abdullah bin Bijad al-Otaibi is a Saudi writer and researcher. He is a member of the board of advisors at Al-Mesbar Studies and Research Center. He tweets under @abdullahbjad.