Friday, June 04, 2004

Saudi Revolution Watch - Shootout in Jeddah

A shootout between Islamist terrorist and the Saudi police in Jeddah ended (go ahead, guess) with the terrorists getting away. Sur-freaking-prise!
"Police pursued the militants but they managed to escape," one source said. "They are still hunting them down."
Do they ever catch these guys? In the past week there have been clashes in Jeddah on the west coast, Mecca inland, and Khobar on the east coast. The terrorists can attack anywhere at any time.

Earlier I speculated that the police and security services have been inflitrated by al Qaeda but of course not every cop and guard has joined the jihad. They can't all have been brided or threatened. They can't all be so grossly incompetent (although no doubt many are). No, what we're seeing is what happens in the last days of a regime - the people the rulers depend on to maintain order simply lose the will to fight for their masters. They are demoralized, and unmotivated and lack the drive to fight and possibly die for a government they no longer believe in, or at least don't believe in as strongly as they once did.

If the Czar's troops or the Shah's military had had faith in the Leader and had the will and discipline to fight the crowds and masses, their governments would not have fallen. The government always has vastly superior firepower. What those governments lost was the will to use it.

Remember the failed Soviet coup in 1991? Tanks rumbled through Moscow as the generals tried to impose order on a failing regime. It was too little too late. Grandmothers stood in front of the tanks and asked or in some cases told the young soldiers not to fire on them. The soldiers didn't. The tanks stopped and the coup flopped. Earler generations of Soviet tank commanders had no trouble firing on anyone they were told to. But by 1991 the man in the tank with his finger on the tigger had simply lost the will to follow the orders of a regime he either didn't believe in or knew would fail.

The same thing is happening in Saudi Arabia. Clearly the Saudis have enough hardware to crush al Qaeda. American defence companies have sold them every weapon the Congress would let them. And the US military has trained the troops. But at this point the Saudi man with his finger on the trigger or driving the police car or guarding the compound simply doesn't want to die or fight for the spoiled, alcoholic, pornographer princes in the royal family. And why should he?

Revolutions are complicated events but they are never a matter of force. All revolutionaries are always outnumnbered and always outgunned. The real revolution is psychological. People don't have to believe in al Qaeda for it to overthrow the House of Saud. People just have to lose faith in the royal family. And then do nothing. At that point power will be lying in the streets and al Qaeda can just pick it up.

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