Saudi Arabia is no longer regarded as quite the invincible pillar of Islam it so recently seemed. Its authority within the Islamic world has been challenged by the Ayatollahs in Iran and its dominant position within Opec has been seriously eroded. Most importantly, the dramatic assault on the Mosque at Mecca has raised serious doubts about the internal security of the Saudi regime. This study provides essential background to the contemporary problems of Saudi Arabia in its focus on the early years of the Saudi state and the way in which King Abd al-Aziz first created a nation state and asserted his family's authority. It agues that the geography of Central Arabia was a crucial factor in determining how he fused together the Bedouin tribes and the settled communities into a political entity.
First published in 1981 and based on extensive new research data, this is the first study to examine more than simply a political or diplomatic history of Saudi Arabia, and concerns itself with the attitudes and perceptions of the Arabs themselves towards political initiatives of that period.
Part 1. Internal Factors Influencing the Evolution of Political Identity in Central Arabia 1. Shifting Balances: Interaction of Social and Environmental Factors 2. Al Wahhab and Al Saud: 'Church' and 'State' 3. The Ikhwan: Badu Answer the Wahhabi 'Call to Unity' 4. The Al Saud and Policies of Islamic and Non-Islamic Taxation Part 2. External Factors Influencing Attitudes to Politics, Political Structures and Authority During the Post-World War 1 Mandate Period 5. Phenomena of 'Nation-state' and 'Border': Transition from Ottoman Territories to Modern Middle East State System 6. Expansion of Al Saud Authority 1918—1926: Territorial Conflicts and Border Delineation 7. The Northern Frontier 1926—1929: Britain and the Ikhwan Challenge Saudi Authority 8. The Ikhwan Rebellion 1929: Suppression of Internal Dissent Coincides with the Acceptance of Fixed Borders