HOUSE OF SAUD
Martin Smith and
Jihan El-Tahri and
PRODUCED AND DIRECTED
ANNOUNCER: The deal was struck 60 years ago.
IBRAHIM, Fmr. Mid. East Bureau Chief, NY Times: America struck
a pact with Saudi Arabia. You give
us oil at cheap prices, and we will give you protection.
ANNOUNCER: Every president since has reaffirmed
the arrangement. Over the years,
both sides have benefited.
Billions of petro-dollars were recycled to buy expensive American
military hardware. When necessary,
America has intervened directly to keep the kingdom safe.
BANDAR BIN SULTAN, Ambassador to the U.S., 1983-present:
They found the oil for us, and they've been our friends ever since,
ANNOUNCER: But there's always been another Saudi
Arabia, one of fervent Muslim warriors, tribesmen with an innate distrust of
outsiders. For them, the monarchy
is corrupt and the deal with America a bargain with the devil. Saudi preachers ascend their pulpits to
rail against infidels and Jews. Saudi
citizens have supplied millions of dollars to school and train jihadis around
JUBEIR, Adviser to Crown Prince Abdullah: when it became
clear that 15 of the 19 were Saudis, that was a disaster.
ANNOUNCER: Now Saudi militants have turned their
sights on targets inside the kingdom and on Americans in Iraq. President Bush maintains that the
Saudis are America's friends.
a special FRONTLINE history, House of Saud, the story of a
NARRATOR: Every Tuesday at al Yamama Palace in
Riyadh, Saudi officials gather for a royal Majlis. It's largely ceremonial but speaks volumes about how this
country is governed. It is presided
over by the kingdom's de facto ruler, Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, a
son of the kingdom's founder. To
one side of the crown prince sit leading Wahhabi clerics, guardians of
tradition, who habitually resist change.
On the crown prince's other side are the royal family and its
retainers. Presumably, the two
groups are partners in power.
male subjects come forward asking for favors — a new well for a village or
money for a daughter's wedding — they are participating in the modern
incarnation of an ancient tribal custom.
They are also here to enhance the royal family's image, to present the
ruler to outsiders like us as benevolent and wise. This is government by patronage. There is no Bill of Rights here. Whatever the prince says or does, the tribal chiefs express
gratitude and pledge loyalty.
In my name and on behalf of my tribe, we thank you, Your Highness, for
giving us the opportunity today to assure you and our government that we stand
together in the face of liars, doubters and dissenters.
NARRATOR: Afterwards, they all gather to pray.
al Saud family conquered the kingdom in the name of God and the Quran.
SMITH, FRONTLINE Correspondent: Do
you expect this to ever become a representative democracy?
Prince ABDULLAH BIN ABDUL AZIZ: [through
interpreter] I believe that Saudi Arabia, in a
sense, is a democracy as it is.
NARRATOR: Resistance to change is a matter of
survival here. This is a nation in
shock, where tradition and modernity are in violent collision. Few places on earth have come so far so
fast as Saudi Arabia in the 20th century.
NARRATOR: A hundred years ago, the Arabian
peninsula was a place of warring tribes, nomads, sheiks, emirs. Among them was the family of al Saud.
TALAL BIN ABDUL AZIZ, Son of King Abdul Aziz:
[through interpreter] At
that time, the Saudi Arabian kingdom consisted of tribes and small
fiefdoms. There was no unity
amongst these warring groups. The
Saudi Arabian kingdom was never united the way it is today until the reign of
King Abdul Aziz.
NARRATOR: In 1902, with just 60 men at his side,
Abdul Aziz ibn Saud rode out to begin his quest for a Kingdom.
AMR AL FAISAL, Great-Grandson of King Abdul Aziz: He certainly had a vision. He had a large, big vision of what he
wanted this country to be. He
wanted it to be a nation and to take its place among the nations, rather than
to be a forgotten backwater where nobody cares what they live or die or what's
happening there, but to be a player in the international scene.
NARRATOR: But to conquer the whole Arabian
peninsula, he needed the fighting skills of the nomadic Bedouins known as the
Ikhwan. The Ikhwan, or Muslim
brothers, were renowned warriors, light and mobile and extremely courageous. They were also fervent Wahhabi Islamic
puritans. To recruit them, Abdul
Aziz had to commit the family to spreading their fundamentalist version of
MADAWI AL RASHEED, Historian:
The Ikhwan were an important fighting force that supported the expansion
of Ibn Saud. They had this vision
that they propagated true Islam in its purest form. So anything they encountered that differed from that vision
was regarded as objectionable.
SAMI ANGAWI, Architect: The nature of
where they were coming from, the desert, was isolated really for almost 800
years. In the desert, you have
either day or night, you have cold or hot. You don't have these shades. Even the music is only one string. And that has kind of polarized their way of thinking. It's either black or white. It's either you're with or against me.
LACEY, Historian: The first Western reference we have to
the Ikhwan, the Brotherhood, comes from Captain Shakespear, who was one of the
early British explorers in Arabia.
And he'd already heard that these people were fiercely anti-Western
right. From the beginning, this
cutting edge of Saudi power was mistrustful of the West, and lethally
mistrustful. For them, to kill a
foreigner might well guarantee their place in heaven.
NARRATOR: With the Ikhwan troops, Abdul Aziz
captured province after province of the vast desert. By 1926, he and the Ikhwan had captured the jewels of
Arabia, Mecca and Medina, making Abdul Aziz the ruler of Islam's holy shrines.
brought prestige and substantial income from visiting pilgrims. It was also a great victory for the
Wahhabis took their name from an 18th century Islamic preacher, Mohammed bin
Abdul Wahhab. Wahhab was first to
see the value in forging an alliance with the able tribesmen of the al Saud
family in order to help spread his austere version of Islam. The Ikhwan were living out Wahhab's
dream. And they wanted to keep
LACEY: They wanted more. And they just wanted to go on and on
and attack, particularly, the British settlements in the north, and
trans-Jordan, and so on.
AMR AL FAISAL: They wanted to create an empire
extending across all of the Muslim Umma.
God knows where they would have stopped, maybe in France, given the
AL RASHEED: So when Ibn Saud tried to restrain them
and asked them not to launch attacks into these territories, they rebelled.
AMR AL FAISAL: They revolted against him, and they
accused him of being an infidel, of having abandoned the faith of Islam and
becoming worldly, and all that kind of thing.
FAHD AL SEMMARI, King Abdul Aziz Foundation:
They said, "Why ibn Saud sent his kids or children or sons abroad to
London? This is against
Islam. Why we have the new
technology coming, wireless station, whatever? This is against Islam."
NARRATOR: If Abdul Aziz were to stay in power, he
had to destroy the Ikhwan. But how
could he, the defender of Islam, justify going to war against his Muslim
fighters? His way out was to win
over the religious establishment, the Ulema, who were regarded as the moral
guardians of the realm.
TALAL BIN ABDUL AZIZ: [through interpreter] He turned to the religious
establishment in Riyadh. He said,
"You judge this. Judge between me
and the Ikhwan." So they looked
into the Islamic laws. They
scrutinized the holy Quran and the Hadith and found that King Abdul Aziz was
right. So they gave the famous
fatwa, which said that the Ikhwan were wrong. They had no right under Islamic law to rebel against the
AL RASHEED: So from that moment, they actually
changed their role, the Ulema, and they became almost like a force to be used
to sanction politics. And that was
the crucial moment in 1927.
NARRATOR: With the Ulema's consent, Abdul Aziz
crushed the Ikhwan.
path was now clear. In 1932, Abdul
Aziz declared himself a king, and for good measure, gave his name to the
country, Saudi Arabia. To unite
the kingdom, King Abdul Aziz married a daughter of every tribal chief in his
realm and produced 45 legitimate sons.
Every Saudi king since has been a son of Abdul Aziz. How many daughters he produced is
unknown. They are not counted.
NARRATOR: Abdul Aziz would not forget that
religion and the Ulema remained central to his rise to power. He became the kingdom's chief defender
of the faith.
ABDUL AZIZ: [subtitles]
If we want to achieve our unity, the unity of our voices, and to protect
ourselves, there is only one thing we can rally 'round: the book of God and the
traditions of the Prophet.
NARRATOR: But Saudi Arabia would have remained an
insignificant backwater in world affairs if it were not for the discovery of
oil. King Abdul Aziz was aware
that neighboring states like Iraq and Bahrain had great natural resources, but
most experts did not believe that the fields extended to Saudi Arabia. Then, in 1931, they were surprised.
HISHAM NAZER, Minister of Petroleum, '86-'95:
There was an American philanthropist called Mr. Crane. Mr. Crane actually came to Saudi
Arabia, and he saw King Abdul Aziz.
And King Abdul Aziz was complaining about the lack of availability of
water in the country.
NARRATOR: Mr. Crane sponsored a geological
HISHAM NAZER: He wasn't looking for oil. So it is by chance that we discovered
oil. We were looking for water. And this feat happens until today. Every time we look for water, we find
NARRATOR: But the only way to get it out of the
ground was to invite foreign companies into the kingdom. And Abdul Aziz feared that inviting
foreigners — or infidels — would be resisted by the religious establishment. He invited them anyway.
AL SEMMARI: The king asked the companies to
come. One of the scholars
challenged that. He said that King
Saud is doing something against Islam.
So the king knew about this, and he asked these scholars to come to his
court. When they came, he said, "I
want you to give me an example why I shall not do that. You say this is against Islam," he
said. "Prove it to me. Prophet Mohammed Saleem used Jews, used
Christians. He did not say 'These
are not Muslim, I cannot be in touch with them, I cannot utilize them.' Didn't the Prophet use them?" And the scholars said, "Yes." He said, "I'm doing that the same."
NARRATOR: In 1933, the first foreign oil
prospectors started arriving in the kingdom. King Abdul Aziz did not care who got the concession, as long
as they paid the money up front.
The British showed interest, but it was the Americans who paid $170,000
in gold for a concession that would turn out to contain the biggest oil fields
JUNGERS, ARAMCO President, '73-'77:
The first number of holes were dry, and the question was, "Why should we
continue with this?" They had been
ordered to stop, and they'd failed to read their mail or whatever, and so they
did strike the oil, and that well is today— is operating.
NARRATOR: The Arabian American Oil Company, or
ARAMCO, was created to prospect for oil and market it. America's four largest oil corporations
became the sole shareholders.
YUSIF YASSIN, Diplomat: When King
Abdul Aziz went to open the first oil field and he smelt the sulfur, and he was
repugnantly surprised by the smell, and they told him, "Your Majesty, this is
what oil, what the sulfur of oil smells like." "So, oh, oh, oh!
Let me smell more of it!"
NARRATOR: The king still had little idea what
riches Saudi oil would soon bring.
But by 1945, the U.S. urgently needed oil facilities to help supply its
forces fighting around the globe.
For President Franklin Roosevelt, oil was an American national security
priority. From Yalta, FDR sent a
message to the Saudi monarch.
TALAL BIN ABDUL AZIZ: [through interpreter] The contacts were made, but the
decision was kept secret until after he left. The minister of finance, Abdullah Suleiman, came to the
king's wives and said, "Abdul Aziz sends his greetings: 'I am at sea, on my way
to meet Roosevelt and will be back in two or three days.' "
AL SEMMARI: Any royal trip like this has to be
big. And it's not just for a
show. No. It's like, you know, unifying all
portions of a society with you together.
So he had his own advisers.
He has some of his own sons, princes. He had some of his tribal chieftains at the time. So it's like a small state moving
outside its own state to meet Roosevelt, and it has to be, you know, from
portions— all portions of society.
AMEEN, ARAMCO Vice President, '72-'75: It
was a very interesting meeting.
Here is Roosevelt in his wheelchair. And as you know, he's not a big man and he's in a
wheelchair. And he's on the deck
of the Quincy. And King Abdul
Aziz, who's about 6 foot 3, 6 foot 4 — big — stricken with trachoma, not seeing
too good, but walking with a cane.
And these two hit it off right away. King Abdul Aziz started kidding Roosevelt about, "You're
lucky you're in that wheelchair.
You can wheel yourself anywhere."
And Roosevelt said to him, "If you like this wheelchair so good, I have
an extra one. Here, I'll give it
NARRATOR: After exchanging gifts, they got down
to business. America needed to
lease an airport and navy refueling station for its war against Japan. But it was the security of the Saudi
Kingdom that was at the forefront of King Abdul Aziz's concerns. He requested U.S. military assistance
and training, and they agreed to construct the Dhahran military base. In return, the king guaranteed that the
U.S. would always have secure access to Saudi oil.
IBRAHIM, Fmr. Mid. East Bureau Chief, NY Times: America struck a pact with Saudi
Arabia. You give us oil at cheap
prices, and we will give you protection.
This protection eventually evolved into an American hegemony over the
entire Gulf region, and the deal extended to the Gulf region, that this was an
American area of influence, and in return for this, it shall be protected from
NARRATOR: And then there was the issue of
AMEEN: Roosevelt said to him, "Your Majesty,
you know, I'd like to get your opinion on a problem that I'm facing back
home." He said, "You know, a lot
of my constituents are pressuring me to recognize a Jewish homeland in
Palestine." And he said, "I'd like
to get your thoughts on this." And
King Abdul Aziz said, "Mr. President, what Hitler did to the Jews was a
terrible thing. It really was the
worst thing that man can do to man."
But he said, "I don't understand why you're talking about taking land
away from us, the Arabs, and giving it to the Jews. We didn't do anything to the Jews. If you want to do something for the Jews, why don't you give
them the best part of Germany?"
AL SEMMARI: When he heard the position of King
Abdul Aziz about this issue, he said, "I can promise you one thing. The promise that I could make is that I
will not do or make any decision if I don't consult with your side and with the
Jewish side. Both sides has to be
consulted in order to reach one decision."
NARRATOR: Later, FDR sent the king a letter
confirming their understanding. In
it he further stated, "I will take no action which might prove hostile to the
Arab People." Roosevelt died a
week after sending the letter.
the time World War II ended, Harry Truman was president of the United
States. Two years later, the U.N.
met to vote on the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. Prince Faisal, the king's second son,
arrived in New York, confident the U.S. would vote against partition. He had been told that by General George
Marshall, former commander of the American army and one of President Truman's
HERMANN EILTS, Saudi Arabia, '65-'70:
Faisal felt that Marshall had given him an assurance at the United
Nations that we would not vote for it, that we would take some other action,
and that Marshall had promised him that and that we had failed to do so.
NATIONS VOTING: United Kingdom, abstain. Saudi Arabia, no. The United States, yes.
NARRATOR: When Truman decided otherwise and the
U.S. supported the partition of Palestine, Faisal took it as a personal
FAISAL BIN ABDUL AZIZ: [through interpreter]
We feel great disappointment that the great powers have pressured members of this assembly to vote for
NARRATOR: Saudi Arabia joined a failed effort to
destroy the nascent Jewish state.
It has since never officially recognized Israel and is technically still
at war with it.
the king still knew he needed American protection.
EILTS: The king made his views very clear,
including his sense of disappointment.
But his main concern at that time was encirclement. He felt that with the Hashemites in
Iraq and in Jordan, that he was encircled. So the sense that there were hostile elements around the
country, coveting its riches and counting upon its internal weakness, its
limited ability to defend itself, hence, it needed an outside protector.
NARRATOR: Just before his death in 1953, the
ailing founder of the kingdom started delegating his power to his sons. His eldest, Prince Saud, who had
accompanied him in battles, was designated the next king. His second, Prince Faisal was to mind
TALAL BIN ABDUL AZIZ, Son of King Abdul Aziz:
[through interpreter] He
prepared for his succession with the help of Prince Saud and Prince Faisal, the
eldest. He told them, "Your unity
will continue my reign and preserve the family and the unity and prosperity of
the country. Avoid
differences. Beware if you
separate." He told them, "Your unity will continue my reign and will preserve
the family and the unity and prosperity of the country. Avoid differences. Beware if you separate."
SULTAN BIN SALMAN: When King Abdul Aziz died, people were
afraid. He was the force, he was
the symbol. He was almost the
bureaucracy himself. Everything
had to come through his desk because it was a nation that he— it's a start-up,
like a corporation today. You
found an entrepreneur who starts a corporation, they've got their hands on
AMEEN: King Abdul Aziz was a power, and he was
strong and he was— he brought strength to the room. And you could see what he did, bringing the country
together. Saud, on the other hand,
people that dealt with him never considered him bright.
EILTS: I don't recall anything substantive
that Saud ever said on whatever the issues might be. Very pleasant, very nice, but inconsequential.
STOLTZFUS, Jr., U.S. Embassy, Saudi Arabia, '56-'60: He loved the desert, in the sense that
he had these huge, tents with every amenity possible— I mean, air conditioning
and all the latest food from Paris and the States and everything else. He loved the trappings of being king,
the palaces and the adulation of the crowds. The foreign dignitaries would come and talk to him. And all of his retainers, of course,
acting with due respect and so— I mean, he loved being king. The only thing is, he wasn't king in
any substantive way.
LACEY: He was soft, and if you're going to be
a ruler in Arabia, you've got to be tough. You've got to be like a hawk. You've got to be like a falcon. That's what gets respect. And at the end of the day, Saud's generosity went so far, but
he wasn't tough enough.
NARRATOR: The king also enjoyed American
hospitality. He became a regular
visitor to the Saudi Arabia's oil rich eastern province, where the Americans
lived very differently than the Saudis.
FAHD AL SEMMARI, King Abdul Aziz Foundation:
When the Americans came to the eastern province with the ARAMCO Company,
they had to live in a compound area.
Inside, they have their own conditions, situation like in the United
States. Outside, they have to live
with the Saudis, as the tradition exists.
YUSIF YASSIN: They started building these camps. It was new to us. Air-conditioning was new to us— all
these things. And then what was
good about ARAMCO is they shared it.
They used to get canned food.
We had never seen canned food at the time, and we used to fight over who
takes the empty cans because these are toys for us, for us kids. So we were always glad to see the
Americans come in, and especially the chewing gum. I mean, the chewing gum was a big contributing factor of
remember the first time when we had a refrigerator that was supplied by ARAMCO
to a number of people, and my father was one of them. We, as kids, were sitting there must be 16 hours to see how
ice is going to be formulated within this refrigerator. Of course, it took 16 hours because
every time we opened the refrigerator, it loses its freezing impact. So we— absolutely it was magic when we
saw a cube of ice. We didn't
really know the world of technology.
We just thought that it was different and it is America.
More stories and anecdotes]
STOLTZFUS: The Saudis were interested in one
thing, and that is that their oil industry was preserved and being handled in a
way where they could negotiate and they could increase the oil prices, and so
on. And they had extremely good
relations with the ARAMCO.
AMEEN, ARAMCO Vice President, '72-'75: They were making a lot of money, but they were spending it
foolishly. The country was
broke. They had to borrow money. They borrowed money from ARAMCO.
NARRATOR: King Saud was much criticized for his
handling of finances, but little was known about his other weakness, a safely
guarded secret, which contributed to his downfall.
AMEEN: We had a vice president for ARAMCO whose
name was Floyd Ohlinger. He was
with the king one time, and the king was tired. He was sick.
And so Ohlinger said to him, "Your Majesty, why don't you go out into
the desert, do a little hunting and relax. And we have a wonderful guesthouse." So he thought that was a good idea.
the king landed, one of the things they were unloading from the plane was
liqueur and hard whisky. Well, we
took a look at this and— where did they put the stuff? They put the stuff under the king's bed
in the guesthouse. So we— of
course, we were kind of shocked.
And during the stay, we could see that they would drink this stuff
straight. But it was kept very
NARRATOR: King Saud's drinking was kept quiet in
part because the king was an important asset for the Americans. Since Gamal Abdel Nasser's overthrow of
the king of Egypt in 1952, the balance of power in the region had changed. Nasser aligned himself with the Soviet
Union and proclaimed himself a socialist and pan-Arabist. For both Saudi Arabia and America, this
was a threat.
AMR AL FAISAL, Businessman: The cold war
was at its peak, where we had two mighty empires battling out across the whole
planet, destroying nations in their path.
And you had the end of colonialism and these newly liberated countries
coming out full of vitality, full of energy, and wanting to prove
themselves. And the theme was "Out
with the old, in with the new."
Who cares whether the old was good or bad. It doesn't matter.
We want to change. We want
to change and get everything new.
So in this kind of environment, we are who are quintessentially old —
you know what I mean? — we were the odd ones out. We were going against the trend.
SULTAN BIN SALMAN: We did not want to be part of that new
thinking in terms of socialism, communism. We've already had our "ism." We've already had Islam. We were happy, and we united around Islam. And anything that would have come to
Saudi Arabia would have unraveled the country.
NARRATOR: Nasser wanted Saudi oil under his
control, saying it belonged to all Arab peoples. The Americans moved to shore up support for King Saud.
STOLTZFUS: Saudi Arabia is absolutely a linchpin,
a key to our to our relationship in the whole area. So oil is at the very center of that. And Russian power coming down there and
having control of those oil fields would have been a major, major blow to us.
HERMANN EILTS, Saudi Arabia, '65-'70:
The Eisenhower administration had the idea that perhaps King Saud could
be built up in a political fashion that might make him a contender with Nasser
in terms of leadership in the Arab world.
STOLTZFUS: The White House said, "We are inviting
His Majesty and eight of his retinue."
And we took that to the king, and particularly to his advisers. They looked at us and we looked at
them, and there was going to be no way it would only be eight. Well, one thing led to another, and by
the time they got on the ship, there were about 80.
NARRATOR: After arriving in New York, King Saud
and his entourage flew to Washington.
Saud became the first Saudi monarch invited to America on a state visit.
STOLTZFUS: Eisenhower met him at the airport,
which was very, very unusual, and he just determined that he was going to treat
Saud as his great good friend.
NARRATOR: Eisenhower wanted a renewal of the
lease on the Dhahran airbase, a useful strategic asset in the cold war. King Saud wanted the money that the
U.S. would pay to extend the lease.
YUSIF YASSIN, Diplomat: My father at
the time, you know, was negotiating the agreement. He was very sensitive to not calling it a base. It was a transit place for the
Americans to take fuel, period.
NARRATOR: The exact details of the Dhahran
agreement are revealed in this original copy of the accord. This agreement constitutes, until
today, the basis of U.S.-Saudi military cooperation.
STOLTZFUS: In exchange for our free use of the
Dhahran airfield, they wanted all kinds material. They wanted tanks, for one thing. And they wanted training and they wanted planes. They wanted anything we would give
NARRATOR: The agreement was celebrated with great
pomp. King Saud was given full
EILTS: The official visit was glittering and
fine. But when it was all over,
one sort of felt, you know, "What is this all about" because he's clearly not
the man for this.
NARRATOR: Eisenhower's plan to build up Saud as
the alternative Arab leader seemed doomed to fail. King Saud spent much of the money from the Dhahran lease on
luxury trips to Europe. A rift was
fast developing in the family.
AMR AL FAISAL: His extravagance wasn't the big
issue. Kings can be extravagant
and still remain king. The big
issue was the running of the government.
That was the biggest problem.
It was all personal.
AMEEN: We were really worried about Saudi
Arabia, and I'm not talking just ARAMCO, I'm talking about the people in the
U.S. government and everybody were worried about Saudi Arabia. And we realized that if anybody was
going to save Saudi Arabia, it was going to be Faisal. A lot of people worried, as we did,
living in Riyadh, that there'd be a kind of a civil war.
NARRATOR: The al Saud brothers realized that
something had to be done.
AMR AL FAISAL: The step of removing a monarch is
something that is not lightly taken by anyone. It is a very serious, very dangerous step. Removing one monarch means that you can
always remove another.
AMEEN: So the brothers all got together, all
of them. It was their own best
interest. They had to make a
move. And they decided in November
of '64 to go to the religious leaders, and they decided this is the way they
could do it.
And they got a fatwa from the religious leaders sanctioning the abdication and
sanctioning Faisal's taking over the throne.
NARRATOR: Once more, the Saudi monarchy was saved
from the brink of disaster by the Ulema.
LACEY: The family decision to depose Saud in
the 1960s was really more of a turning point than the death of Abdul Aziz in
1953 because it was finally coming into the modern world, but also proving that
the desert democracy of sitting around the camp fire and the family picking the
toughest man for the job could work in the 20th century, and the speed with
which the change was actually accomplished and the new direction that the
country took. That, I think, was a
decisive turning point in the history of Saudi Arabia in the middle of the 20th
NARRATOR: King Saud and his entourage were
quietly asked to leave the country.
The ailing Saudi monarch spent his last years exiled in Athens, Greece.
TURKI AL FAISAL, Son of King Faisal: It
was my first year at Georgetown, 1964.
I was called in by the dean of the university, and when I went into the
office, I thought I had done something wrong or something. And he said, "Well, now Turki, your
situation has changed, and are you thinking that we could perhaps provide you
with some bodyguards?" In those
days, there was no Internet, there was no instant news service. I had absolutely no idea that on that
day, Monday, that my father had become King.
NARRATOR: King Faisal had a lot to do. But almost every aspect of bringing the
kingdom up to date was bound to bring him into conflict with the Ulema. In their view, every innovation
AMR AL FAISAL, Businessman: Essentially,
modernity means Westernization.
This is a fact. It's a like
a buzzword, OK? Modern means
Westernized. This is where we have
problems because people who want to run their lives better, but not necessarily
sacrificing their own culture and their own history in order to become copies
of Frenchmen or copies of the English or false Americans. They don't want that.
Read the extended interview]
JAMES CRAIG, U.K. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, '79-84: He decided that there should be girls'
schools in Saudi Arabia, and there was an uproar about it. All the old fathers came along and said
this was awful. Who knew what
would happen when the girls got education? And Faisal said, "In that case, don't send your daughters to
the schools. And if you don't want
it, if the majority of people in your village or town don't want a girls'
school, you won't have one. But
those who do want to have a school must have one."
MADAWI AL RASHEED, Author, A History of Saudi Arabia: I would have been illiterate if they
didn't have schools at the time.
And in fact, I was lucky to go to one of the early private schools that
were established in the '60s.
Female education was put under the directory of a separate body that
would control the curriculum, and make sure that what the girls are taught in
schools is actually suitable for them as girls and as woman. So in that way, he managed to reconcile
the need for female education and also the requirements of the Ulema.
JAMES CRAIG: Gradually, indeed, the number of girls'
schools was increased, and then girls were admitted to universities, and so
on. All this was done by keeping
just a little way ahead of public opinion and always being willing to stop and
wait for public opinion to catch up.
NARRATOR: But reaching compromise with the Ulema
was a constant battle. Leading
Wahhabi clerics were ever vigilant.
AMEEN, ARAMCO Vice President, '72-'75:
day, I get a telephone call from our people in Dhahran that says, "Mike,
they're banning vanilla. The
vanilla extract is being banned."
I said, "Why?" He said,
"Well, it's got a little alcohol in it."
And you know, they're going crazy.
Anything with anything, any alcohol in it, anything. And they're saying to me, "Look, we
can't make ice cream. We can't
make bread. We can't make
cakes. We can't— it's a big
problem. We've got to do something
I happened to be on one of my visits to the king, and I was telling him about
this. And he was amazing. He was amazing, really. He picks up the phone, and the vanilla
was allowed in.
NARRATOR: But to keep the peace with
conservatives, King Faisal made Saudi Arabia a sanctuary for extremist Muslims
from abroad. When governments in
Egypt and Syria cracked down on fundamentalist religious scholars, King Faisal
invited them to teach Saudi Arabian youth. Faisal's decision had far-reaching consequences.
SAUD AL FAISAL, Son of King Faisal:
There was an influx of them.
And where did they work?
They worked in the education and in other professional works. And that's when the problem started
NARRATOR: Many of today's Saudi radicals studied
under Egyptian and Syrian fundamentalists.
SAUD AL FAISAL: They misused their hospitality. They dealt with— we dealt with them
honestly, and they dealt with us underhandedly. And that is a mistake that's not going to be repeated.
Prince Saud's extended interview]
NARRATOR: Religious conservatives staged one of
their biggest protests in 1965, when Faisal approved TV broadcasts in the
AMR AL FAISAL: They considered that broadcasting
television is a sin and against— because they considered it them to be images,
and we're not supposed to show images.
And they considered that this was rank heresy and that the government
had become in league with the devil.
SULTAN BIN SALMAN, Grandson of King Abdul Aziz: So what he did is, he had somebody
recite the Quran and broadcast it and told people, "You see this? It's like a sword. You can use a sword for good, or you
can use a sword to assassinate. So
it's a tool, really." It's like
the Internet today. The same
debate goes on.
NARRATOR: A nephew of the king sided with
religious conservatives. It would
eventually have drastic personal consequences.
AL RASHEED: One of Faisal's brother's sons staged a
demonstration, Prince Khaled Ibn Musaid, in 1965. And this demonstration was objecting to the introduction of
television on the basis that it was un-Islamic.
TURKI AL FAISAL:: A group of people got together, not
numbering more than a hundred.
They headed towards the television tower in Riyadh and tried to break
in, to bring down the television tower.
JAMES AKINS, Saudi Arabia, '73-'75:
They fired at the guards.
The guards fired back, and the prince was killed. The father then went to Faisal and
said, "You've got to punish the soldier who killed my son." And Faisal said, "No. I'm sorry your son was killed, but he
was breaking the law. He fired on
the police. They fired back at
him. And the policeman is
guiltless. I am responsible."
NARRATOR: In the spring of 1967, war was
brewing. Nasser was moving troops
to Israel's border and ordered the U.N. out. Uniting against Israel, Faisal reconciled with Nasser.
REPORTER: Could I ask His Majesty what sequence
of events he would like to see now in the Middle East?
FAISAL: [through interpreter]
The first thing is the extermination of Israel.
NARRATOR: Fearing an attack was imminent, Israel
launched a massive preemptive war.
In just six days, the bulk of Arab armies were destroyed.
TURKI AL FAISAL:: It was a devastating effect that the
defeat in '67 had on all of us.
For King Faisal, to see that the rest of Palestine, including the jewel
of Jerusalem, had been taken over by the Israelis, he felt a personal loss and
a personal affront.
AMR AL FAISAL: After 1967 and the fall of Jerusalem to
the Israelis, that was a turning point in his life. He never smiled again.
NARRATOR: Arab leaders were humiliated. Nasser had falsely accused the U.S. of
helping the Israelis. On ARAMCO's
compounds, hundreds of Saudis rioted against America.
HERMANN EILTS, Saudi Arabia, '65-'70: I
got orders almost immediately from Washington to move out the American
community. And I went to see
Faisal right away. Faisal said,
"It's very important that we retain close diplomatic relations, that the
American community remain." And
his concern then was that the United States press Israel— do something to press
Israel to get out of the West Bank, Gaza and Sinai and east Jerusalem, which we
promised to do.
AMEEN: Being friends with the U.S. was
difficult, was difficult because of this Palestinian problem. So after '67, it got real tough. So the Arab League got together and
said to the Saudis, "You people are nothing but a bunch of American
stooges. You don't even control
your own oil."
NARRATOR: The Arab League pressured Faisal to use
oil as a weapon.
HISHAM NAZER, Minister of Petroleum, '86-'95:
Between 1960 and 1970 — this is a period of 10 years — the price of oil
on the market did not go up one cent, not one single cent. The value of an equivalent barrel of
Pepsi Cola was more expensive than an oil barrel at the time.
NARRATOR: By the 1970s, Saudi Arabia had become
increasingly aware of the strategic importance of its natural resource. It started to negotiate for the
ownership of ARAMCO. At the same
time, the Arab-Israeli conflict was brewing without resolution.
SCHLESINGER, Secretary of Defense, '73-'75:
The tension in the Middle East was brewing, indeed. However the— I don't think that we
fully recognized how much it was brewing.
We tended to downplay the statements that came out of the Middle East,
and most notably, the letter that was received from King Faisal. And that letter said, "You must do
something about the Palestinian problem, or there will be a
deterioration." And we tended to
think that that was just some more hot air on the part of the king.
NARRATOR: In October, 1973, another Arab-Israeli
war broke out. Despite the
tension, the Arab attack on Israel was a total surprise. In the first day, the Egyptian and Syrian
armies had gained considerable ground.
SCHLESINGER: The Israelis pressed us with regard to
the running down of their supplies, and the administration did not wish to be
seen to be responsible for the collapse of Israel. The Arab states, Syria and Egypt, were armed with Soviet
weapons. The president took the
view that we do not want to see a triumph of Soviet weaponry over American
weaponry. And ultimately, we began
to ship supplies to Israel.
NARRATOR: In the midst of the war, the U.S. began
airlifting supplies to Israel.
Under pressure from the Arab League, King Faisal acted.
JUNGERS, ARAMCO President, '73-'77: I
got the phone call the morning after the airlift, and I was asked to come to
Riyadh to see the king as soon as I could, which meant now. And the king was furious about
this. He saw no way to do anything
but to boycott. I said to him, "I
just really don't see how you're going to do it." And the king just simply said, "You are going to do it."
NARRATOR: Faisal ordered ARAMCO to stop
pumping. Oil became scarce. Prices quadrupled, and the shock sent
world economies reeling. President
Nixon sent his secretary of state, Kissinger, on an urgent mission to Saudi
KISSINGER, Secretary of State, '73-'77:
Some people thought because of my Jewish background, that would be a
handicap in conducting Middle East diplomacy.
EILTS: Kissinger raised with me the question
whether the fact that he was Jewish might affect Faisal. And I had to tell him that it might. But I said, "You have to remember also
that he feels we have in the past on a good many occasions, after having made
commitments to him, let him down.
So you'd better be sure that what you say to him that we may do, we
intend to do."
He was very austere-looking, with
very sharp features. And it was a
very long room, and I had to walk that whole room towards him, with his
black-robed advisers standing there.
It was a beautiful scene.
But I must say, he treated me with extraordinary courtesy.
JAMES AKINS, Saudi Arabia, '73-'75:
There was no light conversation.
There were no jokes. There
was no humor. And all in all, it
was fairly tense. But the meeting
went, I think, probably as well as could be expected. Both of them saw that the other wasn't wearing horns.
KISSINGER: President Nixon was eager for me to
raise the embargo. King Faisal
really wanted to talk more about the peace process in the Middle East. He made it pretty clear that he
couldn't lift the embargo until there was some progress towards peace.
NARRATOR: Kissinger began working on a peace
plan, but progress was slow. The
oil embargo remained. The Pentagon
started to consider military options.
EILTS: Kissinger gave an interview in which he
said the United States cannot stand having its oil supplies disrupted. This will hurt the entire economy. And if it should become necessary, the
United States would be prepared to invade, to intervene in Saudi Arabia to take
over the oil fields.
Read this interview]
NARRATOR: Kissinger's statement was taken as a
verbal warning. But a recently
declassified secret British intelligence memorandum reveals that five months
into the embargo, the military option was a reality.
SCHLESINGER: Dr. Kissinger said, "No great power
will allow itself to be strangulated."
And he called me up and said, "Jump in behind me," and I did. I was asked at a press conference
whether we had the military capacity to move in the Middle East, and I said,
"We indeed have that military capability."
KISSINGER: Both Schlesinger and I used hard
language. We tried to make clear
that there was a point at which we would have to look after the requirements of
national security. And so we
implied that if we were pushed absolutely against the wall, we might secure the
oil by our own means.
SCHLESINGER: Oh, yes, we were— we were quite
capable, and we were thinking about a possible move into the Persian Gulf on a
contingency basis. But if we were
ordered to move, we would have moved.
AMR AL FAISAL, Great-Grandson of King Abdul Aziz: King Faisal answered back that, you
know, "We come from the desert. We
have been living on camel milk and dates.
And we can easily go back and live in the desert again." He was not impressed.
KISSINGER: We did not get a telegram from King
Faisal congratulating us on those statements.
NARRATOR: The oil embargo was having a major
impact on the war in Vietnam. Fuel
supplies were running dangerously low.
Behind the scenes, a solution was concocted.
The announcement, from my standpoint over at the Pentagon, came in the form of
a cable from Exxon, which said that ARAMCO members were cutting off deliveries
to the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean, as well as our forces in Europe.
AMEEN: I wasn't aware of how bad it was until
one night, I got a telephone call from the deputy secretary of defense under
Jim Schlesinger. And he said,
"Mike, we have a problem. We need
to talk to you." I met with
Secretary Schlesinger and Bill Clements.
And that's when they told me that they were fighting communists and this
boycott was killing them. And it
was just impossible for us to keep our navy and our kids in Vietnam
supplied. And I talked with our
top people, like Jungers, and I remember the two of us went out to see the
JUNGERS: And the king came in and was obviously
irritated. He was picking hairs
out of his bisht. That was a good
sign, that he was irritated.
AMEEN: Well, we gave it to him exactly the way
that Bill Clements and Jim Schlesinger had told us, that we were fighting
communism, we knew how he felt about them, and that we needed his help.
JUNGERS: "OK," he said, "Well, God help
you." You probably ought to do it,
but don't get caught. Everyone
knew that this was something extraordinary. And for years, it was a secret.
NARRATOR: By 1974, the boycott was over. But continued higher oil prices gave
Faisal great wealth and status throughout the Arab world. Then in March, 1975, his past caught up
TURKI AL FAISAL, Ambassador to U.K.: My
father was receiving the then minister of petroleum of Kuwait. He was followed into the room by a
nephew of the king,
NARRATOR: The king's nephew, Prince Faisal bin
Musaid, came to take his revenge.
It was his brother who had been killed by police during the 1965 TV
AMEEN: You remember on the TV thing, and this
guy was a little nuts anyway, booze and all kinds of stuff. And there's the guards and everybody,
they don't know the kid. They
think he's part of the entourage from Kuwait.
TURKI AL FAISAL:: When the minister bowed to say hello to
the king, he took out a pistol and shot the king over the shoulder of the
NARRATOR: King Faisal's assassination came as a
violent shock, especially that the assassin was a family member. But the succession had already been
NARRATOR: In 1975, Khaled bin Abdul Aziz became
Saudi Arabia's fourth King.
JAMES CRAIG, U.K. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, '79-'84: King Khaled was a delightful man. He was not so keenly interested in
politics as King Faisal was, and as King Fahd was later on. He liked to talk about the desert. He liked to talk about hawking. When I took visitors to see him, he
wanted to talk about his hawks.
One didn't discuss politics with King Khaled, on the whole. He would say, "See my brother Fahd about
NARRATOR: Saudi Arabia was enjoying an
embarrassment of riches. With a
tiny population estimated at four million and only half a million literate male
adults, it was hard to put to work an income of nearly a billion dollars a
week. It was a lot of cash. Saudi Arabia embarked on a rapid course
of buying and building. Foreign
contractors rushed in.
BUCHAN, Financial Times, Saudi Arabia, '78-'80: Saudi Arabia was the only country that
was booming. There wasn't any work
for Western contractors anywhere else in the world, so everybody was converging
on Saudi Arabia. Everybody was
desperate for a piece of the action.
AMR AL FAISAL: You would go away for a summer holiday,
and you would come back and you would get lost. You wouldn't recognize the city you had left just a couple
of months before. Things that
would normally have taken 20 years to do were done in a few months. And it made people a little bit crazy,
a little bit crazy.
HISHAM NAZER, Minister of Petroleum, '86-'95:
We were building two schools every three days. We had to build seven universities. We were trying to do so much in a
constrained period of time. So the
debate was, "Do we import foreign labor, or do we wait until we train our labor
and then carry the projects ourselves?"
And I was of the opinion then that the decision that was taken at the
time to import foreign labor was a great decision.
IBRAHIM, Fmr. Bureau Chief, NY Times:
So you began to have this skewered system, where the native population
didn't do very much, and most of the people who did do work were
expatriates. If you look at— even
in Saudi Arabia today, the population is 16 million, but the expatriates are
perhaps 6 to 7 million.
NARRATOR: Among those that accumulated massive
wealth during the boom time was the bin Laden family, becoming the principal
builders to the royals. Another
consequence of the boom was massive amounts of official corruption. Much of the corruption concerned Saudi
purchases of Western military equipment.
Deals were riddled with influence peddling, bribes and oversized
commissions. There was also real
JAMES AKINS, Saudi Arabia, '73-'75:
The main device for getting money from the government into the pockets
of the princes is through land sales.
But only the princes can register land in the desert as theirs. The ordinary citizen, Abdullah Foulaan,
cannot go out and say, "I'm going to take this piece of land," and put a
marker. Only the princes can do
that. So when the government then
needs land to build a project, they have to buy the land from the princes, and
at astronomical prices, of downtown New York, if not downtown Tokyo at that
time — unbelievable prices.
BANDAR BIN SULTAN, Ambassador to the U.S., 1983-present: The way I answer the corruption charges
is this. In the last 30 years, we
have made— we have implemented a development program that was approximately—
close to $400 billion worth, OK?
Now, look at the whole country, where it was, where it is now. And I— I am confident, you know, after
you look at it, you could not have done all of that for less than, let's say,
$350 billion. Now, if you tell me
that building this whole country and spending $350 billion out of $400 billion
that we had a— misused or get corrupted with $50 billion, I'll tell you,
"Yes." But I'll take that any
time. There are so many countries
in the third world that have oil that are still 30 years behind.
more important— more important, hey, who— who are you to tell me this? I mean, I see every time all these
scandals here, or in England, or in Europe. What I'm trying to tell you is, So what?
Read Bandar's extended interview]
NARRATOR: The Saudi elite became notorious big
spenders in the casinos of Europe.
The royals, with their huge monthly allowances, spent seemingly endless
vacations there. Saudi leaders
lost credibility and respect, especially among religious conservatives.
SAAD AL FAGIH, Wahhabi Dissident:
They're so corrupt in every sense, in Islamic sense, in financial sense,
in administrative sense, in every sense, that no way they can reform and go
back and become faithful to the country, let alone faithful to Islam. So the only way to save the country, in
every sense, even the basic human sense, is to change the whole royal family.
NARRATOR: In 1979, across the gulf in Iran,
another corrupt absolute monarchy, also backed by the U.S., fell. It was overthrown in part by fervent
CHARLES FREEMAN, Saudi Arabia, '89-'93:
The royal family was scared of the same thing happening to them that
happened to the shah, and— namely, that the royal family or the Saudi system
would be overthrown.
NARRATOR: There was good reason. The pace of change in Saudi Arabia
brought the contradictions between Islam and modernity into the open. Again, many in Saudi society wanted to
put the brakes on Westernization.
BUCHAN, Financial Times:
The problem was, these foreigners brought in nasty foreign habits with
them, and that exposed the royal family to criticism from the religious right.
IBRAHIM: With the oil boom, it was natural that
you are pumping a massive dose of Western culture in a country that is loaded
with people— 70 percent of whom perhaps are extremely conservative and really
extremely Muslim fundamentalist, almost radicals.
AMR AL FAISAL, Businessman: One of the
warning signals, where the society is saying "Look, look, look, enough. This is changing too fast for me. I can't keep up. Slow down," was in 1979 with the
hijacking of the mosque in Mecca.
I think this was a symptom of this trauma. You just can't drag people into the 21st century by the
scruff of the neck. You just can't
NARRATOR: On November 20th, 1979, several hundred
Islamic radicals took over the holiest of the Islamic holy places, the mosque
TURKI AL FAISAL:: They took a microphone in the mosque
and announced for the rest of the world that the Messiah was here and that
people should come and pledge their allegiance to him.
NASSER AL OMAR, Wahhabi Cleric: [through
interpreter] When the incident at the mosque
occurred, the government and society realized that the ship had come unmoored
from its fundamentals. It was a
warning bell. Society was
awakened, came back to God and heeded the causes that might lead to a greater
LACEY, Author, The Kingdom: I
remember asking my Saudi friends, "What do these people want?" And they said, "Well, they want to
basically go back. They want to go
back in time to a purer world, to an Islam that wasn't threatened by the West
and where the words of the Prophet, as they believe it today, ruled." And I said, "Well, how do they
practically plan to achieve that in modern Saudi Arabia? They're going to tell everybody to get
rid of their cars and stop watching the television?" He said, "Yes, so far as I know, that's what they want. And they have this hopeless attitude to
the modern world."
KHALIL AL KHALIL, Imam Mohammed University:
They were asking the nation and people to go back to the original Islam
in primitive ways. So they were
against television. They were
against schools. They were against
universities. They just want the
country to be governed by mullahs, by religious scholars. They don't believe in governments. They think government is kafir, it's
non-Muslim any longer. They
believe that all the new methods and means of life is nothing. They want again like the— old Ikhwan,
they wanted— what they wanted is jihad against the infidel.
NARRATOR: The royals went to the Ulema, and the
clerics issued a fatwa based on the verses of the Quran. The fatwa allowed the government to use
all necessary force to retake the mosque.
TURKI AL FAISAL, Director, Saudi Intelligence, '77-'01:: The meaning of it was that these people
were apostates, who had taken over the Mosque, and therefore anything could be
done to get them out of there.
NARRATOR: After an 18-day standoff, the Saudis,
with fatwa in hand, routed the militants.
One hundred and twenty soldiers died. The leader of the insurgents, Juhayman al Utayba, was a
direct descendant of the Ikhwan, the Bedouin warriors who had fought for and
then rebelled against King Abdul Aziz.
Juhayman and 62 others were beheaded.
SULAIMAN AL HATTLAN, Columnist: We
killed the extremists of 1979. But
later on, like, few months after we killed them, we adopted their
ideology. We gave them what they
wanted when they were alive. So—
in every level in our society. I'm
talking about the educational system.
I'm talking about the media discourse. I'm talking about the relationship between the government
and the people. I'm talking about
even the relationship between people and the people. We started competing— on how to appear more conservative just
to protect our— our reputation and to protect sometimes our safety. We had to pretend we were something
that we actually were not.
NARRATOR: As the Saudi royal family moved to
increase its religious standing, millions of dollars were diverted to religious
education under the Ulema. They
taught Wahhabism as the only true form of Islam and holy war against infidels
as the obligation of every believer.
New theological schools and universities were built to produce more
clerics to help spread the word. Saudi
charities raised millions more for the cause.
Explore a chronology]
BANDAR BIN SULTAN: We don't have taxes in the
kingdom. People don't pay
taxes. However, we have a
religious tax that's dictated by our religion, that is compulsory but not
enforceable. Why? Because it's left to one's faith and
belief, and so on. And it is
supposed to go to the poor. If you
cannot find anybody needy, you go to the next neighborhood or the next village
or the next city or the next country.
Well, in Saudi Arabia, God blessed us with a lot of wealth. We take care of almost all our
people. So we send it to
Afghanistan, to Bosnia, to Senegal, to anywhere in the world, to Africa, Asia,
and of course, the Arab world, as charity.
AL RASHEED, Historian: They were able
to open up mosques in London, in Africa, in the United States, and in Southeast
Asia. And that was seen as part of
their responsibility as wealthy Muslims.
They had to share that wealth with Muslims elsewhere. And they had to be seen as supporting
NARRATOR: In 1979, the Wahhabis found a rallying
cause like no other. The Soviet
Union, a godless communist power, had invaded a Muslim nation,
Afghanistan. Saudi Arabia and the
U.S. made a secret deal to contribute an equal amount to finance the war. Thousands of young Saudis were sent to
fight alongside the mujahedin.
AL RASHEED: The Saudi religious education and also
the institutions of higher learning began to produce masses of young graduates
who are very well conversant in Islamic theology, but who could not really be
absorbed easily in the economy.
And the Afghan War in the '80s provided an opportunity to absorb some of
those Saudi youth. And this was
actually encouraged by the government, who probably saw it as a way to release
some of the tension, but they didn't realize the potential for an exploding
situation later on.
NARRATOR: For almost a decade, some 20,000 young
Saudi volunteers made the trek to Afghanistan. There they would acquire military skills and come to believe
that dedicated Islamic fighters could defeat a superpower.
NARRATOR: In 1982, Crown Prince Fahd became king
after his brother, Khaled, died of a heart attack. The Iran-Iraq war was raging on his doorstep. Fahd befriended Saddam Hussein, a
fellow Sunni, and gave him money and weapons to battle Shia Iran. Eight years later, the Saudis were not
prepared for a sudden betrayal.
AMR AL FAISAL: I'm sitting at home, relaxing, when the
phone rings. And my mother is
calling. She was in Paris. Her voice is very disturbed. "How are
you?" "I'm fine." "How are things with you?" "Fine." "What is happening with you?" "Nothing. What's happening?
What's going on?" "Didn't
you hear?" "No. What happened?" "Iraq has just invaded Kuwait."
was like a bomb had been dropped on me.
I had no idea! Because at
the time, we didn't have satellite television, and there was a total blackout
to the news, where if you turned on the television, nothing.
IBRAHIM: The Saudis had not decided whether to
announce it to their own population or not. Of course, everybody knew it. So it was a— it was so strange, so weird, and it was such an
insight into the kind of paralysis, incomprehension, that the regime found
itself in the middle of.
LACEY: In some ways, King Fahd, although a
shrewd and to some degree quite ruthless man, had many of the faults of his
brother, Saud— an eagerness to please everybody, a belief that everything could
be sorted out with the money, which was pretty plentiful, that all would be for
the best. And the bankruptcy of
that, I think, was exposed, to start with, by the first Gulf war and Saudi
Arabia's inability, after spending all this money, actually to cope with this
threat themselves, this military threat from Iraq.
AL RASHEED: How could you justify spending so much
money on an army that can't be used for any combat, real combat situation? And this brought to the forefront this
problem with the corruption, the commissions, the military contracts, and the
inability of a sovereign state to defend itself in case of outside aggression.
NARRATOR: During these first days of the Iraqi
invasion of Kuwait, Usama bin Laden offered his services to the royals.
TURKI AL FAISAL:: Bin Laden went to see some Saudi
officials at the time. He told
them he could bring his army from Afghanistan, his mujahedin army, to repel the
Iraqi invaders from Kuwait.
KHALIL AL KHALIL, Imam Mohammed University:
He was trying to meet with the king. That's why I met with him. So he had about 60 pages, typed, in his hands. And he started reading. He said, "We have some people who are
ready to fight." I said, "How
many?" He said, "About 15,000 to
20,000." As he mentioned this, he
said, "I want to make it clear we need no weapons or equipments. We are very well equipped. We didn't need any support from
anybody." And then he said, "We
are not going to fight for Kuwait.
What we are about is to protect the holy lands, Mecca and Medina. That's our goal."
TURKI AL FAISAL:: He was told politely, "Thank you very
much for your proposition. We will
study it, and we'll get in touch with you. Don't call us, we'll call you."
NARRATOR: Dismissing bin Laden was easy. The real dilemma was how to allow
hundreds of thousands of American non-Muslim troops into the kingdom. This was certain to rile Islamic
AMR AL FAISAL: Everything in this country revolves
somehow around religion. Now, this
is something that a Westerner will never understand, and I'm not even going to
try and make them understand because they simply won't. The religion is the law. It permeates the culture. It is rooted in the history. It is part of the DNA, if you like, of
the Saudis. Therefore, any
challenge has to go through the Islamic filter.
needed to understand whether it was permissible for the government of Saudi
Arabia to invite hundreds of thousands of Westerners to come on Saudi soil in
order to fight another Muslim country, which is Iraq.
BAKER, Secretary of State, '89-'92:
There were some questions about whether the Saudis would accept the U.S.
forces. And the president asked
Secretary Cheney to go down and meet with the Saudi officials to tell them that
we felt it was important to put some forces in there to deter the possible
action by the Iraqis to move down the peninsula.
NARRATOR: U.S. Defense Secretary Dick Cheney,
General Colin Powell and General Schwarzkopf arrived in Saudi Arabia armed with
satellite pictures showing the Iraqi army poised to move across the Saudi
W. FREEMAN: I thought he was shaken by what he saw
in those photos. After listening
to General Schwarzkopf's briefing on the proposed American response, the king
said, "Come." And then the crown
prince said, "Don't you think there should be some consultation?" And Fahd said, "There's no time. If we delay, we may end up like
Kuwait. There is no Kuwait
anymore," he said. And Abdullah
said, "Yes, there's a Kuwait.
There is still a Kuwait."
And Fahd said, "Yes, and its territory consists of hotel rooms in Cairo
and Paris and London." And
Abdullah said, "I take your point.
NARRATOR: King Fahd went back to the Ulema and
asked for a ruling, or fatwa
AL JUBEIR, Adviser to Crown Prince Abdullah:
King Fahd asked the senior Ulema, and they said that if you cannot work
a peaceful settlement, then you must side with the victim to reverse the
aggression. And if you have to
avail yourself of support from non-Muslims, you do so.
NARRATOR: The deal was concluded. More than half a million U.S. troops
started arriving in the kingdom and neighboring countries. But regardless of the fatwa, hard-line
Saudi imams protested.
[subtitles] We have allied ourselves to the enemies
of God, loved them, and forgotten what separates faith and heresy. This is one of the causes of our
NASSER AL OMAR, Wahhabi Cleric: [through
interpreter] This was the biggest mistake committed
by America. It caused all the hate and hostility. They came with their traditions, their
army, and unfortunately, with their behaviors, and wanted to force it on
NARRATOR: During these first months of Desert
Shield, Saudi anxiety was amplified by an unexpected problem: money. The U.S. administration was bent on
charging the Saudis for the war.
BAKER: We were pulling together the
coalition. We were furnishing the
military effort, and we were, in effect, saving the bacon of a lot of people in
the region, including the Kuwaitis and the Saudis. They were very well-to-do countries, and it was our thought
that they should contribute to their defense.
Fahd was a very warm and engaging person to deal with. I remember when I first raised the
issue of payment, he said, "Don't even talk to me about that." He said, "What is money between
friends, and in a situation like this, I don't even"— he said, "You just go to
the finance minister and you tell him what you think is appropriate or what you
need." And that was the way he
CHARLES FREEMAN, Saudi Arabia, '89-'93:
The costs were picked out of thin air. They were— because no one really knew. And in some cases, we asked for figures
that were simply concocted on the back of an envelope. In the end, what we took in covered the
expenses of the war, and probably a little more. Secretary Baker and I had a number of arguments about this
because I felt that we were asking the Saudis for too much.
BAKER: Ambassador Freeman said that the pot is
not quite as rich as it has been.
But there's nothing that's more important— he didn't say this, I did —
nothing more important than their security and their continued well-being. And it clearly was fair and reasonable
for the Saudis to contribute substantially.
W. FREEMAN: They spent some $50 billion, and the
result was that they started the war with no national debt, they ended it
financially lamed and continue to suffer from the debt that the war produced.
NARRATOR: The presence of Americans had other
consequences. Some Saudi women
were inspired to challenge longstanding social taboos, such as the ban on women
FAWZIA AL BAKR, Assoc. Prof., King Saud University: American ladies were actually driving
around Riyadh. So we thought, This
is encouraging. Why don't we
actually go and ask for that?' We
just said, "OK, we will meet at the parking lot of the Safeway in Riyadh at
3:00 o'clock." We didn't want to
tackle any other issues except the driving.
IBRAHIM, Fmr. Mid. East Bureau Chief, NY Times: Suddenly, all these cars started
arriving. There was about two dozen
cars, and all these very elegant, albeit covered, Saudi women coming out of
their cars to take the driver's seat with the Pakistani, the Indonesian drivers
just sitting on the sidewalk in front of the supermarket.
AL BAKR: We were six doctors from the university
who had Ph.D.s. Also we were,
like, you know, teachers from the public schools. Some of the ladies who were shopping in the Safeway, they
saw all these ladies actually getting into the car, and they asked, "What are
you doing?" And we said,
"We're going for a demonstration."
They said, "We'll just participate. That's wonderful."
So they just get their drivers and get into the car with their things,
and they drove with us. I mean, I remember one guy, he said— a Saudi, he said,
"Good for you!" He was really
IBRAHIM: Now, within 10 minutes, these religious
police, who are the guys with the beard and the short dresses, started swooping
in on the demonstration.
AL BAKR: You know, Muttawas, of course, in our,
you know, minds are very scary.
And I have to tell you that.
I mean, I remember that guy.
He was really very fat. And
he came and he asked me, "You, stop your car!" And I said, "OK."
NARRATOR: Forty-seven women were arrested. The Ulema called the driving a source
Good evening. The news from
Channel 2, Saudi Arabian television.
The Ministry of the Interior would like to announce to all citizens and
residents that all women are absolutely prohibited from driving cars in the
kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It added,
"Any woman who violates this regulation will be penalized."
AL BAKR: In every city within the kingdom, in
all the mosques, millions of papers were distributed with our names and
telephone numbers, and that we are Westerners and we are against the will of
the societies, and we have to be, you know, prosecuted or whatever.
NARRATOR: The notice called upon clerics to
punish the women as they saw fit.
NARRATOR: With the swift coalition victory in
Kuwait, the security of the kingdom seemed assured. But the continued presence of American soldiers in the land
of the two holy mosques was a major irritant.
HISHAM NAZER, Minister of Petroleum, '86-'95:
The fear was, of course, those people come and never leave. This is the experience of the Middle
W. FREEMAN: And constantly, we reassured the Saudis
that we planned, after the liberation of Kuwait, to leave, until it became
apparent that Saddam Hussein was not going to fall from power. We didn't withdraw. So we stayed in Saudi Arabia with no
agreement, no understanding between us and the Saudis. The U.S. military clearly understood
that their presence in Saudi Arabia was politically irritating and, in many
respects, dangerous to the good health of the relationship.
NARRATOR: Usama bin Laden would seize upon the
issue, and his followers would go on the offensive. On the morning of November 13, 1995, a massive bomb shook
Riyadh. Four American military
contractors and one American soldier died. Those arrested said they were inspired by bin Laden.
AL JUBEIR, Adviser to Crown Prince Abdullah:
When the explosion in Riyadh happened — we were tracking bin Laden since
the early '90s — we stripped him of his citizenship. We knew that he was a danger, and we knew that he was
planning mischief against Saudi Arabia.
IBRAHIM, Fmr. Mid. East Bureau Chief, NY Times: Usama bin Laden began his whole quest
as directed against the Saudi royal family. I mean, his main enemy was the regime and his main goal was
to overthrow this regime. And then
he moved philosophically to the natural conclusion that the people who are
supporting this regime are the American military, and, "I will get much more
resonance for my message if I were to attack the American military." And I detected for the first time in
Saudi Arabia a certain amount of sympathy with this act.
NARRATOR: In 1996, another bombing in Dhahran
killed 19 American soldiers.
U.S.-Saudi relations were coming under increasing strain. At this critical juncture, King Fahd
was incapacitated by a stroke.
AMR AL FAISAL: Crown Prince Abdullah comes into the
picture at this point in time. And
the country is a different country, again, because things have happened in this
country. And most importantly, it
is the introduction of Arabic-language satellite programs.
NARRATOR: Beamed-in TV programs were the beyond
the control of the royals. For the
first time, Saudi citizens began to see for themselves what others saw as the
shortcomings of their country. The
people were exposed to reports about lack of civil rights and political
freedoms and royal corruption.
IBRAHIM: There is no more control of the
news. This is a new paradigm. And the crown prince himself is part of
that. The crown prince spends his
time watching Al Jazeera. And
while CNN would be showing the American audience an American reporter riding in
an Israeli tank, Al Jazeera would be showing an Arab audience Palestinian kids
being chased or beaten up by Israeli soldier. And this phenomenon cannot be divorced from the way the
Saudi leadership is now reacting to the United States.
NARRATOR: Gruesome images of the Arab-Israeli
conflict became part of Saudis' daily viewing. Throughout the '90s, U.S. efforts to forge a lasting peace
foundered. The Saudis remained on
the sidelines while continuing to support Arafat and militant groups like
Hamas. But when they sensed
President Bush might abandon the peace process, they took a more active role.
AL JUBEIR: As soon as the Bush administration came
into office, we had discussions with them about the American policy in the
region. We were urging the United
States to get engaged in the peace process. And when there was an escalation of violence and the
president was asked about Sharon's actions, his response was perceived in the
region as a signal to Sharon that he could do whatever he wanted.
GEORGE W. BUSH: The Israelis will not negotiate under
terrorist threats! It's as simple
as that. And if the Palestinians
are interested in a dialogue, then I strongly urge Mr. Arafat to put 100
percent effort into solving the terrorist activity, into stopping the terrorist
activity. And I believe he can do
a better job of doing that.
AL JUBEIR: And at that point, the crown prince
sent a very powerful message to the president, "It is obvious that you have
decided to support Sharon, irrespective of what the consequences are to
American policy or to your interests or to the interests of your friends. You're a sovereign country. You can do whatever you want. We are now in a position where we have
to take actions that serve our interests without any regard to how they may
affect your interests."
AMR AL FAISAL, Great-Grandson of King Abdul Aziz: And the letter to President Bush merely
is a reflection of his character, of his willingness to challenge the United
States. "We can't take this
anymore. We have had it up to
here. Either you be more fair,
more equitable in your dealings with the Arab world, or we will simply find a
different arrangement than the one we are having with the United States. We can no longer have the same kind of
relationship that we have had for the last sixty years."
AL JUBEIR: And within 24 hours, we had a response
from the president to the crown prince, in which the president laid out his
vision for the Middle East: two states, shared Jerusalem, just settlement of
the refugee issue, in very clear terms.
And he said, "But we can only do that if we can stop the violence." The crown prince responded to the
president and said, "This is a positive step, and you need to articulate this
publicly." And the president agreed
to do so two or three days before September 11th.
NARRATOR: The peace talks collapsed in the rubble
of 9/11. Some Saudis say the
attacks were welcome.
SAAD AL FAGIH, Wahhabi dissident:
People received a message in their mobile phones,
"Congratulations." And then the
next message in the mobile phone was, "Our prayers to bin Laden." They were very jubilant and happy and
looking at bin Laden as a hero.
People started killing sheep and killing camels and making big feasts
and inviting their relatives and friends to celebrate the big event in America.
HATOON AL FASSI, Assoc. Prof., King Saud University: There was a general shock, of course,
disbelief. But there was a group
of people who said, "OK, let them suffer now. Let the Americans suffer."
ALIM, Attorney: Let me put it this way. You know, I might hate someone's guts,
OK, but I would not condone his murder.
If by chance he was, you know, hit by a bus and— you know, and passed
away, I wouldn't cry for him. You
see? And this is the kind of
feeling that took place in a segment of the society.
GEORGE W. BUSH: Either you are with us or you are with
NARRATOR: Attention was quickly focused on Saudi
Arabia as the heart of the problem.
AL JUBEIR: When it became clear that 15 of the 19
were Saudis, that was a disaster, a total disaster, because bin Laden, at that
moment, had made in the minds of Americans Saudi Arabia into an enemy.
NARRATOR: A new U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia,
Robert Jordan, arrived in Riyadh in October, 2001.
ROBERT JORDAN, Saudi Arabia, '01-'03: At
the official level, they were appalled.
They were embarrassed. Some
of them, frankly, were in denial.
I remember meeting with one of the very most senior royals, a very well
respected individual. But he
clearly was in denial. He
said, "This had to have been a Zionist plot. Saudis are not like this. And Saudis by themselves, frankly, are not capable of
launching a plot this sophisticated."
SAUD AL FAISAL, Foreign Minister, '75-present: People refused to accept that this was
Saudis doing this. Imagine if you
wake up one day, you have children, and find that one of your sons is a mass
murderer. How gut-wrenching a
discovery is that?
NARRATOR: America's war on terror would deeply
divide Saudis. When Americans
invaded Afghanistan, the government quietly allowed the U.S. to use Saudi air
bases for command and control operations.
But Saudi militants captured in Afghanistan would make up the biggest
segment of the prison population shipped to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
war in Iraq posed an even bigger challenge. Americans used Saudi airbases for bombing missions, but the
government worried about the reactions of its people.
JORDAN: I'll never forget being told by some
members of the royal family, "Mr. Ambassador, please don't win Iraq and lose
Saudi Arabia." And they were that
concerned. I think they meant that
there was a great possibility that if they supported us in the way we needed,
it would further alienate the archconservatives and the Islamist extremists
from the royal family and from the government, that it could destabilize the
ALIM: And people were extremely worried that
after Iraq was finished and done with, the United States would turn its head
and start targeting countries like Saudi Arabia, like Syria, like Egypt, Iran.
NARRATOR: Baghdad fell in a matter of weeks. Just days later, U.S. Secretary of
Defense Donald Rumsfeld arrived in Riyadh to announce U.S. troops were finally
pulling out of Saudi Arabia.
RUMSFELD, U.S. Secretary of Defense: And they'll leave with us grateful for
the support and cooperation that the kingdom provided.
QAEDA VIDEO: [subtitles] The infidels have invaded our
homes. The crusaders are here,
betraying us again. But this time,
we are determined to fight.
NARRATOR: Since the Gulf war, the American troop
presence in Saudi Arabia had been a rallying cry for al Qaeda. Now the American air base stands empty,
but it didn't seem to matter to bin Laden. Two weeks later, on May 12, 2003, al Qaeda militants
attacked three compounds in Riyadh housing hundreds of foreign workers. Thirty-five people were killed,
including nine Americans. Over a
hundred were wounded. This was
something new. The attack grabbed
Saudis' attention in a way that 9/11 did not.
JORDAN: The next day, May 13th, 2003, Colin
Powell and I visited the crown prince.
And he was white as a ghost and absolutely shaken to his core by what
had happened. And to the extent
they had been in denial about the terrorist threat in the kingdom, that denial
ended on the morning of May the 13th.
HATOON AL FASSI, Assoc. Prof., King Saud University: We have to face the fact that these
people who attacked and bombed in Riyadh are Saudis, are our youth, our sons
and brothers. They are not
expatriates. They are not CIA
here. They are not Zionists. They are our own people.
KHALIL AL KHALIL, Imam Mohammed Univ.:
The bombing was really the major event that changed people, no doubt,
cleared the air. We can't trust al
Qaeda. We can't trust the
radicals. We can't trust those
NARRATOR: Some members of the Saudi elite looked
inward. They began to reevaluate
the long-time deal under which the religious schools and universities were
controlled by Wahhabi fundamentalists.
SULAIMAN AL HATTLAN, Columnist: I
think the whole culture of education in Saudi Arabia gave people dangerous
tools, tools to teach people how to hate, tools of hatred, tools of anger, and
not tools understanding the reality of the world.
NARRATOR: In an unprecedented act of self-examination,
"Tash Ma Tash" — Saudi Arabia's most popular TV comedy show — was allowed to
air a bold sketch about extremist teachers instructing students how to hate
God allows us to shed their blood and take their wealth and honor and to
make them our slaves.
TEACHER: [subtitles] We have to instill in our hearts the fact that they are
infidels. They are loathsome. They are infidels. Infidels!
NARRATOR: A moderate teacher decides to complain
to the authorities at the Ministry of Education.
Hello. I've come to inform
you about the ideas of some of the teachers in our schools.
NARRATOR: When he gets there, he finds the
teachers he's come to complain about in charge.
government has even moved against some of the most radical preachers. At the Ministry of Islamic
Affairs, which overseas the country's government-owned mosques, they have begun
firing some imams.
SALEH AL ASHEIKH, Minister of Islamic Affairs: [through interpreter] There was a small group of imams that
too far, and they would not compromise.
And that's why they've been dismissed from their duties. The total number of imams and preachers
dismissed was about 1,300. Some
hold extremist ideas against others, against the interests of the country and
of Islamic work.
NASSER AL OMAR, Wahhabi Cleric: [subtitles]
I have no doubt that America will be defeated!
NARRATOR: But independent Wahhabi fundamentalists
have fought back. A new, privately
owned Saudi TV channel, Al Majd, is dedicated to propagating their views.
NASSER AL OMAR: [subtitles]
America will be destroyed gradually. America will be destroyed.
NARRATOR: Even on a daytime kids show, the
message is often harsh and unambiguous.
[subtitles] What happened with the promises they
made? The wolf would keep his
promise before the Jews would.
Father, send my greetings to the land of Jerusalem and tell them that a
martyr does not die when he is killed.
Tell them about a people whose limbs, even when blown apart, will leap
up and defend their honor!
[subtitles] Great! Great!
Wonderful! Give him a
NARRATOR: Clerics also want to roll back
NASSER AL OMAR: [through interpreter] Allow me to be direct. Did we ever interfere in the American
curriculum, which unfortunately includes clear hostility to Muslims, Muslim
nations, and specifically to the kingdom?
Did we ever interfere their social affairs, even though American social
affairs have major flaws and need to be corrected? We opposed the change in the curriculum because America is
interfering in our religion, in our faith and in our unique character. America is aiming to make Muslims fall
in love with and embrace American culture.
NARRATOR: America culture, conservative clerics
believe, continues to raise expectations for women. This book, called Defending Virtue, was written by a
cleric on the council of the Ulema.
"Man is physically perfect and has natural power," it reads. "The female is inferior physically,
mentally and emotionally."
NASSER AL OMAR: [through interpreter] This is a book written by one of the
greatest scholars. It was written
to protect women. We consider the
book in general as wonderful and deep.
AL FASSI: I just couldn't believe that this is
something that is being taught at university. I felt it very humiliating. I was angry at the university, as well. Yeah, the university, how could they
allow such a book, such a way of competition to be run at the university? What type of university is this? And this is the biggest university in
NASSER AL OMAR: [through interpreter] Who are these women? What is their educational level? Probably, they have been influenced by
Western theories or by a culture far removed from Islam. Their judgment does not count.
AL FASSI: I have this theory that these type of
interpretations usually emerge and get fortified in a society where men are
very weak, very backward, and don't have any kind of power over anything.
NASSER AL OMAR: [through interpreter] I am surprised that the majority of
people discussing the issue of women are non-Muslims from the West. This is not an issue here. Not only do women in Muslim countries
not complain about their situation, but more importantly, nor do Muslim men who
correctly follow Islam. We don't
have a problem. I do not know of
any religion that has honored women as Islam does.
NARRATOR: The royal family continues to resist
any real efforts at structural change.
In early 2004, a prominent group of citizens petitioned the family for
constitutional reform. The
minister of interior summoned them in.
ALIM: The Minister of interior was very upset
and said, you know— you know, "You should not have meetings and you should not
have congregations. And we are not
going to, I think, condone the whole concept of reformation the way you think
it should be. We are doing it the
way we think it should be done.
And it's not really reformation, as in fixing things, it's reformation
as in natural evolution. There's
nothing wrong to be fixed."
Can Saudi Arabia reform itself?]
NARRATOR: Shortly afterwards, a dozen reformers
were arrested. Three are still in
continuing war in Iraq has only helped strengthen anti-American radicals in
[subtitles] God, destroy the infidels.
NARRATOR: During the holy month of Ramadan, as
the U.S. advanced into Falluja, senior Saudi clerics issued renewed calls for
jihad against America.
[subtitles] God, make victorious the fighters
of Falluja over the infidels and their allies.
[subtitles] The jihad in Falluja is a source of
pride. I praise the jihad against
the occupiers in Iraq. We curse
the Americans every night and pray that Allah will annihilate them.
NARRATOR: An unknown number of Saudis have
traveled to Iraq to join the fight.
The suicide bomber who killed 22 U.S. soldiers in Mosul last December
was a young Saudi medical student.
inside Saudi Arabia, the chronology of violence is relentless, and for Saudi
Arabia, unprecedented. Since the
Riyadh bombing in May of 2003, over 100 people have been killed by al Qaeda in
attacks on compounds and oil companies across the country.
remain the prime target. Most
recently, a BBC cameraman was gunned down while filming in a Riyadh street last
summer. Two days later, a U.S.
defense contractor was shot to death in his garage, and a week after that,
another U.S. defense contractor was killed outside his home in Riyadh. And U.S. engineer Paul Johnson was
abducted by terrorists manning a fake security checkpoint. A video of his beheading was put on the
Internet. In December, an all-out
assault on the U.S. consulate in Jeddah left five foreign staff dead. The Saudi Ministry of the Interior in
Riyadh was car-bombed two weeks later.
thousands of Americans are pulling out of the kingdom. British Airways has announced it is
suspending all its flights into Saudi Arabia.
royal family is facing the most severe challenge in its history, straining its
60-year-old oil-for-security deal with America.
ROBERT JORDAN, Saudi Arabia, '01-'03: We
have enormous disagreements with them, but we have a fundamental common
interest in going forward, even though our cultures are diametrically opposed,
in many ways, to each other.
And we're learning more about each other, and in many cases, neither
side likes what they see. And so
we've got to find ways to work on the common interests and to help the Saudis
through a period of coming into the 21st century.
dealing with this in fits and starts, and it's not always going to be
pretty. One of the challenges for
America is, we're so unpopular over there right now with the people, that the
more we publicly praise or encourage what goes on, the more that could be the
kiss of death.
NARRATOR: Ultimately, the Saudis believe an
oil-dependent America cannot afford Saudi Arabia's demise. The house of Saud believes it will
SAUD AL FAISAL, Foreign Minister, 1975-present: This government has shown versatility
and permanence. We have faced many
problems. When oil came in the
'50s, they said this country cannot survive because the wealth will change the
underpinnings of the government.
But it's here. In the '60s,
when they were calling Nasser the wave of the future, Nasser went away and the
government is still here. After
the liberation of Kuwait, saying that hundreds of thousands of American troops
existing in Saudi Arabia would surely mean the death knell of the kingdom of
Saudi Arabia— it is still here.
LACEY, Author, The Kingdom:
They are a successful ruling family. They are very, very good at hanging onto power and should
not be underrated in their cleverness, in their ruthlessness, and in their
sheer ability to hang on.
AND DIRECTED BY
El-Tahri and Martin Smith
Smith and Chris Durrance
participation of Orchestre OCAAD
Lambert de Guise
et Brigitte Camdessus
& Mona Azzam
June Hopkins, Eleanor Roosevelt Papers
van der Slikke
National de l'Audiovisuel
D. Roosevelt Library
Nixon - King Faisal
McNamee / Corbis
Kissinger - Schlesinger
New York Times
Director, Larry Vernon
Lies - Olivier Cogniet
Europe, Societe et Geopolitique
with the support of
National de la Cinematographie
MEDIA Programme of the European
- Societe des Producteurs
with the support of
MEDIA Programme of the European
Middle East Media Research Institute TV
Alegria and Rain Media, Inc.
association with the BBC and Arte
is a production of WGBH Boston, which is
solely responsible for its content.
ANNOUNCER: There's more to explore at our Web
site, where you'll find a chronology of the kingdom's history, including key
events in the U.S.- Saudi relationship, a family tree profiling recent al Saudi
kings, analysis on Saudi Islamism and the prospects for reform, plus interviews
with members of the monarchy, Saudi historians, activists and religious leaders
and a chance to join the discussion at pbs.org.
time on FRONTLINE:
11th, he saw the responsibility and an opportunity.
ANNOUNCER: Before the war in Afganistan—
wanted to build a smaller, nimbler military.
ANNOUNCER: —before the war in Iraq—
He came in
determined to reassert civilian control.
ANNOUNCER: —there was another war.
war does not mean victory. We won
all the battles in Vietnam, and we lost the war.
ANNOUNCER: Rumsfeld's War. Watch FRONTLINE.
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