If the Al Saud faced the wrath of extremist elements in November 1979, when the Makkah Mosque was occupied for three long weeks by hundreds of neo-Ikhwan supporters, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia faced a double rage in 2003. Riyadh confronted the fury of Western authorities in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on American soil and, after the May 12, 2003, terrorist bombings, the vengeance of radical Islamists at home. Although surrounded by a very large retinue, the heir apparent and regent, Abdallah bin Abd alAziz, faced these challenges more or less alone. Epoch-making changes have unfolded on his watch, and how he “guides” them will probably mark the fate of the kingdom and the Al Saud for at least a generation. What confronts the affable Abdallah, much like what faced his halfbrother the late King Faysal bin Abd alAziz in the early 1960s, is a test of will.
How he responds to accusations that Saudi Arabia supported terrorist activities throughout the Muslim world and how successfully he introduces sorely needed sociopolitical reforms, will surely shape the kingdom’s immediate future. Yet, much like his older brother, who saved the Al Saud dynasty in 1964, Abdallah may well restore the ruling family’s tarnished image in the West as well as reinstate its influence throughout the Muslim world.1
THE 9/11 WRATH
According to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), 15 of the hijackers believed to have taken part in the coordinated suicide missions on September 11, 2001, were Saudi nationals. This claim was quickly disputed by Interior Minister Nayif bin Abd al-Aziz, and at least two Saudis whose names were on the FBI’s initial terrorist tally sheets received official apologies from Washington. Others were less fortunate because undeniable facts pointing to the active participation of several Saudi nationals soon emerged. Dozens were held and questioned for long periods of time, even if the main designated culprit, Osama bin Laden (who was stripped of his Saudi citizenship in 1994), was unaccounted for in late 2003. The relentless bombardment of Afghanistan from October 7, 2001, onwards may well have dismantled bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network, but it failed to produce the hermit or the Taliban regime’s self-declared leader, Mullah Omar. Likewise, the American decision to remove the Baathist regime in Baghdad, allegedly because Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) represented an “imminent threat” to the security of the United States (as well as to that of its junior partner, Britain), added pressure on Saudi Arabia to follow the American-British “logic,” even if conclusive evidence was lacking several months after Saddam Hussein was toppled on March 9, 2003.
For much of the past two years, senior U.S. officials have voiced their general displeasure with Saudi Arabia, even if most were aware of how critical the kingdom remained to U.S. national security. Simply stated, Riyadh controls 25 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves, a truism that did not alter the undeniable fact that U.S. Saudi relations were severely bruised because of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The kingdom’s reputation was further damaged after a U.S. Congressional Report implied that Riyadh played a role in the attacks.2 Washington deleted a substantial section detailing alleged Saudi complicity, and, while Riyadh made a bid to have these sections made public, it was unsuccessful. In fact, it is now clear that no amount of diplomatic finesse will likely eliminate the mistrust on either side that, unless carefully managed, could generate new clashes. Although U.S. government officials measured their criticisms of Saudi Arabia, its Wahhabi creed and Islam in general, gratuitous remarks abounded in the media and the instant-analysis industry.
Laurent Murawiec, a RAND Corporation analyst specializing in the kingdom, briefed the powerful Defense Policy Board at the Pentagon in July 2002, describing Saudi Arabia as “the kernel of evil, the prime mover, the most dangerous opponent” in the Middle East.3 Murawiec labeled Saudi Arabia an “enemy” of the United States and reportedly argued in his briefing that the United States should demand Riyadh end all funding of fundamentalist groups, stop all anti-U.S. and anti-Israeli statements in the kingdom, and “prosecute or isolate those involved in the terror chain,” including in the Saudi intelligence services. If the Saudis refused to comply, the briefing emphasized, Saudi oil fields and overseas financial assets should be “targeted,” although specifics were not outlined. The Saudis, maintained the analyst, were active “at every level of the terror chain” and, clearly, needed to be reminded of their limitations.4
Others identified the kingdom’s religious beliefs as defective, going so far as to declare that “Wahhabism has been a movement of total intolerance toward those who did not adopt its principles, including other Muslims.”5 For Americans who considered Saudi Arabia as Washington’s “anchor in the Arab Middle East [that] banked our oil under its sand,” a frontal assault was necessary to tame Saudis who had strayed.6 Instantaneously, the primary focus centered on the kingdom’s education system, which purportedly taught nothing but hatred, especially hatred of the United States.7 When religion and education were discussed in tandem, the resulting assessments bordered on the highly subjective, a litany of emotional sermons.8
The sum total of such negative publicity fundamentally altered American public opinion of the kingdom. On February 26, 2002, The Washington Post reported that 54 percent of Americans viewed Saudi Arabia as a state supporting terrorism, compared with a mere 35 percent who had a similar perception of Syria, a country long on the State Department’s “Terrorism List.”9 This general view remained constant for the balance of the year and, after the spring 2003 American-British war on Iraq, anti-Saudi perceptions solidified.10 A less charitable British commentator predicted a total collapse of the longstanding relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia, as gloom and doom forecasts dominated media as well as scholarly outlets.11
THE WRATH OF MAY 12, 2003
Then on May 12, 2003, powerful bombs ripped through three foreign compounds in Riyadh, killing 34 people, including eight Americans, along with 9 attackers. Another 194 people were wounded. The terrorist bombings stung senior Saudi officials, as most were criticized for doing little to combat militancy in the kingdom and throughout the Muslim world. After this tragedy, Saudi officials displayed unusual openness and determination to confront extremist militants. “Saudi Arabia must deal with the fact it has terrorists inside its own country,” White House spokesman Ari Fleischer declared.12 Cautious Saudi commentators and officials quickly concluded that radical elements represented as much of a threat to Saudi Arabia as to the United States. Heir Apparent Abdallah went on national television vowing to “confront the murderous criminals” and their supporters behind the attacks, a very bold statement that expanded the circle by taking on the militants’ sympathizers. He pledged to remain “vigilant about security” and “to confront and destroy the threat posed by a deviant few.”13 In fact, Saudi newspapers, which are government controlled even if privately owned, carried editorials using unusually harsh language. Most lashed out at extremists who, they posited, used religion to rally misguided and mostly unemployed youths to carry out suicide attacks.14
Within a few days, Saudi Arabia linked a 19-member al-Qaeda team to the carnage, as a direct connection was made between these latest attacks and a May 6, 2003, gunfight between police and al-Qaeda operatives in the same part of Riyadh. According to Saudi authorities, the 19 who escaped included 17 of its nationals, a Yemeni, and an Iraqi with dual Kuwaiti and Canadian citizenship. Interior Minister Nayif declared that they were believed to take orders directly from Osama bin Laden.15 Speaking to the daily Ukaz, Nayif did not rule out the possibility of more attacks: “We must not sit back and say this will not happen,” he said. “This is life, and incidents occur in every country and we are in a period of anxiety and terror acts. The kingdom is one of the countries being targeted.”16
By late 2003, Riyadh successfully apprehended most of those on its initial list of al-Qaeda suspects, and then some. Dozens were hunted down and hundreds were arrested. Heir apparent Abdallah’s pledge that he would go after terrorists with a vengeance, proved true. Various sweeps in Riyadh but also in Makkah, Madinah, Abha and elsewhere throughout the kingdom netted potential terrorists who stood accused of collaborating with al-Qaeda. Equally important, several hundred clerics were fired from their highly visible posts and, according to an official spokesman, Riyadh actually suspended many preachers for allegedly promoting hatred and intolerance.17
WHAT AILED THE KINGDOM
The firing of several hundred clerics from their state-appointed posts and the “retraining” of many others in special religious schools illustrated what ailed the kingdom. Indeed, much of what hurt Saudi society may well be traced to its complex socioeconomic makeup and the myriad problems it has helped create since 1932.18 Although the Al Saud did not face an imminent risk of instability, they entered the twenty-first century in the midst of significant political, social, economic and military transitions.
The most critical internal transition facing the Al Saud in 2003 was the question of who might succeed a frail King Fahd. In fact, Riyadh was likely to have a non-Sudayri at the helm, in the person of Heir Apparent Abdallah. That is, a son of King Abdul Aziz whose mother was not a member of the Sudayri family. Almost inevitably, this has raised a succession question among policy makers, focusing attention on how the Saudi regime might change under his rule and whether there might be significant shifts in Saudi foreign and domestic policies. Irrespective of how this transition develops, Abdallah’s accession to the throne seems assured (assuming good health), even if the number-two post “promised” to Defense Minister Sultan bin Abd al-Aziz has not been etched in stone. Questions of this forthcoming succession aside, Saudi Arabia could face a political crisis, once the winnowing of senior Al Saud family members accelerates.19
Abdallah, who assumed authority to run the day-to-day affairs of the kingdom in December 1995, when King Fahd bin Abd al-Aziz suffered a debilitating stroke, was sensitive to this central question. Although he became regent in 2000, the heir apparent probably represents a minority voice within the ruling family. Defense Minister Sultan and several of his full brothers, the so-called Sudayris, tend to be far more conservative. They also reject any changes in the alliance that stands at the center of the family’s legitimacy in the eyes of the religious establishment. It may thus be safe to assume that while Fahd is alive, even if barely, Abdallah cannot rely on the full complement of brotherly support that he desperately needs to solidify his position. Needless to say, such support is critical if one is simultaneously to accede to rulership, win a war against terrorism, and – no small feat – introduce social, economic and political reforms.
Another important transition was earmarked for the Majlis al-Shura (Consultative Council), which was enlarged to 120 members at the end of May 2001, as it was called upon to offer genuine advice rather than rubber stamp government policy. Observers of the kingdom’s political scene perceived the expanded Council as a way for technocrats to enter government service rather than act as real parliamentarians.20 Nevertheless, Riyadh sought to empower the institution, even if it hesitated. “We need political reform first of all. Parliament has to have the right to hold government to account,” insisted Talal bin Abd al-Aziz, a half-brother of the custodian of the two holy mosques, to Reuters in early July 2003.21
Talal, never the shy royal, went even further in his assessment of what ailed the kingdom. “So far the intellectuals agree on the unity of the Kingdom, that we should have an Islamic Shari’ah law but an enlightened version, and that we retain the royal family but with reform.” These were powerful words that could only be voiced after being vetted with the country’s senior leaders. What Talal and, through him, Heir Apparent Abdallah were clearly seeking was to curtail the immense power of the religious establishment. Moreover, what the regent sought was to institute substantial reforms to overcome whatever political problems Saudi society may have to face, including terrorism, to ensure Al Saud rule. Talal was specific in his criticism of the religious police, and he called on the government to rein in the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, known as the mutawwain or “enforcers,” a semi-independent institution created and supervised by the ruling family. According to this logic, the enforcers would no longer have free license to arrest at will but would be accountable to the police. “If,” clarified Talal, enforcers of public morality “see violations, it is not they who should take action; they should just tell the police.”22 Few Saudis and even fewer members of the Al Saud had ever spoken with such clarity of purpose on a topic this sensitive.
The call to further institutionalize religious activities was not limited to members of the ruling family. Shaykh Abd al-Aziz bin Abdallah Al Shaykh, the kingdom’s grand mufti and chairman of the Council of Senior Ulama [religious scholars], declared in May 2003 that “terrorism ha[d] nothing to do with Islam [and that] Islam should not be blamed for the acts of other people.” “People,” underscored the learned scholar, “should be held responsible individually for their own acts.” In August 2003, Al Shaykh cautioned believers to abandon extremism and fanaticism, emphasizing that “Muslims must understand that the path of reform never comes through violence. Islam is not a religion of violence. It is a religion of mercy for everyone.”23 Speaking in Makkah in early September 2003, he further indicated that Friday sermons should address the interests of the entire Muslim community.24 For his part, the minister of Islamic Endowments, Dawa, Awqaf and Guidance Affairs, Shaykh Salih bin Abd al-Aziz Al Shaykh, cautioned Saudi youth to remain vigilant about religious and political deviations. Shaykh Salih called on Saudis to oppose hatred in all its forms and pledged to allocate a larger portion of his ministry’s resources to programs that will propagate truth.25
Needless to say, such a global perspective required coordination and, more important, cooperation among religious authorities, who would have to accept a certain degree of uniformity. Yet, and it may be worth underscoring, the kingdom’s religious figures would neither utter such declarations nor embark on radical approaches were it not for the heir apparent’s specific instructions. In fact, Abdallah’s outlook on religious tolerance was changing so quickly that, at the end of his historic September 2003 visit to Russia, he called on Muslims and Christians in that country to preserve “social harmony.” Receiving members of the Russian Orthodox Church, he forcefully declared that Russians were capable of opposing evil that sought to separate or harm their respective religions.26 At a time when Saudis were accused of doing little to promote concord among various religious communities, Abdallah was certain that Russian Muslims and Christians were capable of preventing divisions. Although this statement was meant to be supportive of Russia’s estimated 20 million Muslims, it also reflected the heir apparent’s desire for tolerance among all believers. By making such a statement in Moscow, Abdallah further cautioned radical Islamists at home, insisting that extremism and intolerance would not be condoned.
Abdallah faced equally daunting challenges on the economic front that preoccupied him far more than generally assumed. He realized that the kingdom’s estimated 30-percent unemployment rate stood as a stark reminder of past failures. Unless major economic reforms were implemented, and sooner than many wished, Riyadh could not hope to emerge out of its sociopolitical doldrums.
In 1973, before the beginning of the infamous oil boom, Saudi Arabia had a population of roughly 6.8 million. It grew to 15.8 million by 1990 and 22 million by 2000. It is currently projected to reach 25.8 million in 2005 and over 30 million in 2010. At an annual growth rate of 3.7 percent, the Saudi population will have nearly doubled between 1990 and 2010. The World Bank forecasts that Saudi Arabia’s population will grow by about 3.3 percent per year over the next few years. As a result, even conservative estimates project a total Saudi population approaching 30 million in 2010. This will add substantial pressures on Riyadh.27 What the kingdom’s demographic data clearly illustrate is that Saudi Arabia is a very young country ruled by old men. Abdallah, who is 80, must therefore rule with a young heart if he is to address the concerns of his people.
Similarly, in 1973, Riyadh’s gross domestic product (GDP) stood at less than 100 billion riyals (approximately $35 billion), and per capita income was less than $2,500. The economy was largely rural and pre-industrial. By 2002, however, the Saudi GDP rose to 700 billion riyals (approximately $200 billion) with per capita income hovering around $9,000 (having peaked at $15,000 in 1981). These figures indicated that a largely agricultural entity had slowly become a heavily urbanized welfare state with a significant service sector. Yet, because of dramatic transitions, Saudi Arabia faced a critical threat to the welfare state it created after 1974, especially because the anticipated population growth was not matched by liberalized economic policies. Clearly, oil income alone would not – and will not – offset a steady drop in per capita income, as Riyadh encourages rapid diversification and prepares for the day when many subsidies, a significant drain on its unbalanced budgets, are permanently removed.28
To some extent, these changes explained why Heir Apparent Abdallah continued his efforts to seek major reforms in the Saudi economy, to reduce dependence on foreign labor, encourage private domestic and foreign investment, and open up the nation’s economy to help make it globally competitive (as well as qualify for membership in the World Trade Organization). In fact, the need for substantial foreign investment, especially in the oil and gas industries, was deemed a priority. Towards that end, Abdallah invited leading oil-industry titans to return to the kingdom, even if no agreement had been reached by the fall of 2003.29 The heir apparent understood that Saudi Arabia remained far too heavily dependent on oil revenues (for around 90 percent of total export earnings, about 70 percent of state revenues and 40 percent of GDP), despite repeated attempts to diversify. Still, without high oil prices, Riyadh was poised to face budget and investment problems, the major challenge on this front being whether Abdallah could fund both entitlements and development programs simultaneously.30
The kingdom’s military transition was even more complicated. Despite large defense expenditures and vast programs to absorb Western military hardware, the Saudi military remained relatively weak against its opponents, chiefly because Riyadh lacked the minimum manpower required to defend Saudi Arabia. Pressure on the Al Saud to form a capable fighting force increased after the 1991 war for Kuwait, not only because of the country’s small population base, but also because able-bodied Saudi men have in large part stayed outside the military, essentially to manage businesses. To compensate for chronic manpower shortages among the kingdom’s population, the Al Saud have now opened military service to various tribal elements, in order to maintain the armed forces at a reasonable level. Tribal and cultural aversions, combined with a lack of technical education, have severely limited Riyadh’s ability to raise an efficient force, one capable of using its sophisticated weapons without massive and unabated outside assistance. In this instance as well, Heir Apparent Abdallah encouraged a different approach.31
If the Al Saud mistrusted their military before 1990, the Iraqi invasion and occupation of Kuwait and the 2003 war in Iraq have dramatically altered their assessments. Although Riyadh spent some $18 to $22 billion annually on defense during the past decade, new financial austerity measures were implemented after 2000. To be sure, Saudi Arabia signed new arms agreements, but these paled in comparison to what was purchased earlier.32 What preoccupied Al Saud officials in 2003 were the preparedness levels of many units rather than the latest sophisticated equipment. Even the Royal Saudi Air Force, certainly the crown jewel of the Saudi military, faced austerity measures.33
Abdallah insisted that the military prove itself and, in so far as it may be possible, rely less on outsiders for training and maintenance. The heir apparent maintained the longstanding cooperation accords with the United States, which allowed the latter’s Special Operations Forces to operate out of key Saudi bases during the attack on Iraq but simultaneously welcomed Washington s decision to redeploy a U.S. Air Force Wing out of Sultan Air Base at Al Kharj in the summer of 2003.34 Abdallah understood that his “will” and massive military expenditures notwithstanding, such austerity measures were absolutely necessary, as he concentrated on internal and regional disturbances.
THE DOMESTIC WAR ON TERRORISM
Critics of the heir apparent view his pledges and limited actions to date with skepticism. Many have concluded that Abdallah is window dressing and that there is little substance to his promises. Yet significant changes have already taken place, and, while hardened perceptions are difficult to dissipate, the desire to reform while conducting a full-fledged war on terrorism is genuine. To be sure, some diehard Al Saud members may have little interest in introducing modernizing features, but the regent has probably crossed the Rubicon. There is no going back, even if Abdallah knows all too well that there are few “liberals” throughout the kingdom that stand ready to support him in his many endeavors.
Internally, Riyadh now faces the prospect of sustained turbulence, even if not all of the country’s difficulties are socioeconomic. As the demographic bulge cited above illustrates, half of the population (which is under the age of 15) will continue to demand increasing political accountability. Moreover, opposition groups link Al Saud policies on the domestic front with Saudi Arabia’s standing at the international level. Within the Arab world, Riyadh is criticized for paying lip service to the core concern of Palestine and, within the world at large, for kowtowing to American policies. The regent’s declaration of war on terrorism must, therefore, be assessed within these parameters. At stake is Al Saud rule itself.
Although the tragedy of September 11, 2001, dramatically altered Abdallah’s perceptions of the war on terrorism, the fact remained that the Bush administration had squandered several peacemaking opportunities during its first year in office. At the height of the Palestinian intifada Abdallah was dismayed by how callous the new president was towards the Palestinians. According to The Washington Post, the regent drafted a 25-page letter to President George W. Bush in late August 2001, in which he vociferously complained about U.S. policy on Israel. Abdallah noted that repeated American vetoes at the U.N. Security Council illustrated this bias.35 In fact, Arab and especially Saudi perceptions were so negative that the heir apparent turned down an invitation to visit Washington in June 2001. Interior Minister Nayif, for his part, regretted that Washington came at the top of the list of countries that have an unfair stance as regards the cause of the Arabs and the Palestinians in particular.36
Whether the letter and such comments were meant to assuage a growing anti-American sentiment throughout the Arab world – in fact, throughout the Muslim world – was difficult to determine.37 What was irrefutable, however, was Heir Apparent Abdallah’s frustration with U.S. Middle East policy. When Abdallah turned down the invitation to visit Washington, he announced that Riyadh must abide by principled stands on behalf of Palestinians. He voiced his bewilderment at international inaction while visiting several European capitals. He insisted that Israeli violence was a kind of “state terrorism,” highlighting the dangers associated with Israel’s aggressive retaliatory measures, along with confiscating land, building settlements and laying economic siege to an entire captive population. The heir apparent called for a more balanced U.S. position to better protect vital American interests throughout the region.38 Riyadh’s unrelenting criticism of Washington necessitated an intervention by George H.W. Bush (who nurtured special contacts with senior Al Saud figures during his own political career). The former president telephoned Abdallah in June 2001 to reassure the Saudi that his son was “going to do the right thing.” He reportedly confided to Abdallah that his son’s heart was “in the right place” as far as the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel was concerned.39
Such assurances notwithstanding, Al Saud rulers were not overjoyed by the U.S. decision to limit its direct involvement in the peace process, as Washington argued that it was up to the two parties to resolve longstanding differences. It may well be that Abdallah then took the decision, before September 11, 2001, to reduce the U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia. In other words, Abdallah had to contend with growing anti-U.S. sentiment across the kingdom, directly related to developments elsewhere in the Middle East. While the Al Saud have never allowed the Arab Israeli conflict to infringe on their special relationship with successive American administrations, Abdallah and several other senior ruling-family members were finally reconsidering whether existing strategic ties could proceed as in the past.
Saudi Arabia then embarked on a major peace initiative to collectively commit the entire Arab world to normalizing relations with Israel in exchange for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. It was probably designed with full American blessings.40 The fanfare that preceded the plan’s formal unveiling at the League of Arab States Beirut Summit bordered on the comical.41 It was entirely possible that the United States sought Saudi assistance – through the kingdom’s religious clout within the larger Muslim world – to advocate an acceptance of Israel. Riyadh, for its part, was eager to ingratiate itself with Washington in a full-fledged rehabilitation effort. Yet, although the Saudi plan was unanimously adopted by the League on March 28, 2002, Israeli “conditions” ensured its premature death.42 When, a few months later, Washington turned to its latest peace initiative, the so called Roadmap (which was also derailed), Saudi Arabia’s role was significantly marginalized. Although Abdallah s initiative flopped, the heir apparent had taken a calculated risk in Beirut when he promoted inter-Arab reconciliation, including a thaw in Iraqi-Kuwaiti and Iraqi-Saudi ties.
These significant measures were followed by a major rapprochement effort with the Bush administration in April 2002. The Saudi regent visited Crawford, Texas, where he confided his personal views on the Middle East peace process, Afghanistan, Iraq and the war on terrorism. He pleaded for action on the Palestinian-Israeli front and promised to muzzle radical Islamists in the kingdom. By all accounts, the meetings were fairly blunt and did not go as well as many anticipated. The two determined men stood their ground.43
Riyadh then took several practical steps to address intrinsic internal problems ranging from measures to prevent money laundering to ordering banks and other financial institutions to strictly monitor any large transactions. Against a plethora of evidence, Friday sermons throughout the kingdom’s mosques stressed the need to combat terrorism, offering support to the coalition to defeat Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. The Iraq situation was more delicate, as it necessitated a sophisticated response. In fact, Saudi officials went out of their way to differentiate between Iraq and the Baathist regime. They opposed Saddam Hussein but strongly objected to the economic sanctions that were strangling a hapless population. Equally important, Saudi and Gulf leaders were – like their own residents – exposed to television reports from Iraq that displayed the horrible impact that sanctions had visited on the Iraqi public.44 Consequently, the flood of anti-American sentiment increased; pro-American Saudi elites were not able to stem the tide.
Throughout the kingdom, sermons routinely raised these critical nuances. Even if some preachers warned against “unmeasured” responses, radical clerics routinely issued critical statements on the American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Abdallah, for his part, knew that his decision to crack down on Islamists would actually increase their popularity within the kingdom.45 Even before the polarizing debate over Iraq, leading Saudi clerics openly challenged Riyadh to distance itself from the West in general and the United States in particular. Shaykh Hammud Al-Shuaybi of Burayda, for example, wrote that “helping the infidels against Muslims is defecting from Islam,” and that “whoever helps America and its fellow infidels against our brothers in Afghanistan is an apostate.”46 Another Saudi cleric, Shaykh Abd al-Aziz bin Salih al-Jarbu, penned a fiery pamphlet that concluded that Osama bin Laden was Muhammad bin Abd al-Wahhab’s natural inheritor.47 This was a clear affront to the Al Saud.
Not surprisingly, and in the aftermath of the American-British attacks on Iraq, the fiery radical Islamist message increased once again, escalating into armed confrontation. By the time the May 12, 2003, terrorist attacks hit the capital, Riyadh was embarked on a full-fledged internal war against radical Islamists. These facts, as well as the overall criticism of the ruling family, riled the Saudi government because they struck at the very heart of its claim to legitimacy. Moreover, such arguments echoed Osama bin Laden’s view of the ruling dynasty as too doctrinaire, too corrupt and too unIslamic to rule. From an internal Saudi perspective, what the suicide bombings revealed was the extent to which some Saudis were ready to defy the Al Saud, especially in light of the latter’s discreet but sustained support of the United States over the years. The regent’s mission was and is to conduct a war on terrorism without appearing to conduct a war on religion. Riyadh certainly favored a public distance between its policies and American demands for more action. It was paramount to ensure that anti-American criticisms did not translate into anti-Al Saud measures.
Heir Apparent Abdallah faced several key transitions in 2003. Within the region, these challenges ranged from the removal of the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq, a major force in Gulf security, to Iran’s welcome shift towards political moderation and regional cooperation. While Saudi Iraqi ties, which had deteriorated throughout 2001 and 2002 due to continued border skirmishes, cannot but improve in the future, diplomatic strains with the United States have continued. Simply stated, the United States is now a Gulf power that shares a border with Saudi Arabia, a reality that weighs heavily in Riyadh. In fact, Washington’s regional footprint in Iraq and throughout the Gulf region has changed perceptions that many Saudis had of the United States. Likewise, while Saudi-Iranian ties were also improving, Riyadh was wary of Tehran’s long-term political and military capabilities. Iran no longer played the role of a balancer in the Gulf (vis-à-vis Iraq) but risked a confrontation with the United States. Needless to say, such an outcome was not in Saudi Arabia’s interest, as Abdallah did not wish to drag the Gulf region into a fourth war in less than two decades.
If the Saudi heir apparent appreciated Washington’s “inclination to seek a just and comprehensive peace,” in Iraq, as in Palestine after Mr. Bush vowed to support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, Saudi Arabia remained suspicions of U.S. motives.48 Abdallah pledged to exert special effort to serve security and stability in the region but wondered whether Washington aimed solely to entice Arabs and Muslims into joining the campaign against terrorism. In his mind, as in the minds of many Arab and Muslim leaders, this duality was illustrated with strong steps in Afghanistan or Iraq and lukewarm, indeed reluctant, ones on the Arab-Israeli front. Nevertheless, even the Al Saud realized that the United States could no longer distance itself too far from obligations of its making, in Iraq for obvious reasons, but also on the peace process, because the Bush administration has committed the United States to supporting the principle of a Palestinian state.
Few doubt that Saudi relations with its erstwhile staunch American ally are now in dire straits. In fact, ties are so strained that Prince Bandar bin Sultan, son of the powerful defense minister and dean of the diplomatic corps in Washington, because of his long-established presence in the American capital, has sought advice from the president’s father, as well as from Vice-President Dick Cheney. These urgent meetings were meant to halt the slide in Washington’s confidence in Riyadh amid concerns that some Saudis, including some serving in the government, were linked to terrorists who may have targeted the United States. Prince Bandar left nothing to chance. He flew to Kennebunkport, Maine, in late August 2003, before going to Wyoming to meet the vice-president, both to show respect and to seek advice.49
These meetings followed a very strong statement by Richard Armitage, the deputy secretary of state, who declared that terrorists attacking American troops in Iraq “were slipping across the border from Saudi Arabia.” Although Riyadh denied the change, and called on the occupying forces to seal their border, the Saudis were dismayed that Armitage and other senior American officials would place Saudi Arabia on the same level with Iran and Syria. Even if an official State Department spokesman insisted that Armitage’s comments about the kingdom were “overplayed” and that the deputy secretary “was not trying to lump Saudi Arabia in the same category as Iran,” Bandar’s visits were telling.50
To be sure, both Washington and Riyadh have managed their numerous differences with aplomb for over 50 years. Whether Saudi Arabia, or for that matter the United States, can afford to place the Al Saud ruling family at risk will be a key strategic question for both countries in 2004. Although some American and some Saudi officials may be fed up with each other’s policies, inevitable and tangible progress in the Middle East peace process can only help preserve long-term interests. A modicum of evenhandedness will likely accelerate the process and, equally important, allow Heir Apparent Abdallah to introduce sorely needed economic and political reforms to his kingdom.
For Abdallah is aware that serious internal problems cannot be resolved by fiat. Acknowledging the existence of poverty in the kingdom, disparities between rural areas and urban sprawls, rising unemployment levels, intrinsic structural weaknesses within the economy, as well as unrepresentative government, all necessitated serious action. Much like his older brother, King Faysal bin Abd al-Aziz, the current regent took several key decisions even if most were long overdue. In fact, these were taken to address popular demand and ensure that Al Saud rule was preserved.
Towards that end, in the spring of 2003, Saudi Arabia’s first independent human-rights organization was authorized. It held its first major conference on Human Rights in Peace and War in mid-October 2003, when some 70 papers were discussed.51 According to press reports, the conference emphasized the need to adopt common international standards for human rights that respect all religions, cultures and traditions. Significantly, one of the participants, Princess Hussa bint Salman, daughter of the powerful governor of Makkah, addressed Saudi Arabia’s stand on human rights and clarified several recent changes in the law.52Her participation as well as her interventions revealed the importance that the Al Saud have attached to this key question.
Simultaneously, a “National Dialogue Panel” as well as a 30-strong “Saudi Intellectual Dialogue” group emerged. The latter forwarded a series of recommendations to the heir apparent. They called on him to widen freedom of expression, broaden the decision-making process, improve communication lines between rulers and ruled, empower women, accept intellectual diversity within society, and balance economic and commercial development. They also asked the heir apparent to confront extremism by differentiating between terrorism and jihad, while paying more attention to youth concerns. Finally, they pleaded for an accelerated pace for the implementation of ongoing reform programs that recognize the impact of regional and global situations.53 A tall order indeed.
To his credit, Abdallah pushed through the Saudi Cabinet a number of measures that addressed several of these recommendations. In an earthshaking step, the Saudi cabinet announced that it was contemplating elections to choose half of the members of each of 14 municipal councils.54 Riyadh decided to widen participation of citizens in running local affairs through elections within one year.55 While long overdue elections were perceived as a beginning, an al-Watan columnist in Riyadh hoped that they would lead to elections in the Shura Council, in universities, and [in] the right to form syndicates.56 Still, Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal insisted that Saudi leaders are not experimenters, and that they are only seeking to do what is the wish of the Saudi citizen.57
Another significant item, which could only have been addressed with the heir apparent’s full consent, was the Shura Council debate on Saudi Arabia’s naturalization laws. Although the Council could not reach a consensus, discussions were taking place on relaxing citizenship laws for foreigners, especially those who have lived in the kingdom for ten years or more.58 The need to alter existing regulations, including the much-despised sponsorship (kafeel) system, was first raised in public by Prince Abd al-Majeed bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud, the governor of Makkah. More recently, Shura Council members weighed how to change naturalization rules to narrow geographical gaps and remove differences based on gender, religion and color.59
In national addresses, Heir Apparent Abdallah referred to the need for such genuine debates on a slew of key questions, including tolerance, national unity and reform. As a listener willing and eager to learn from ordinary citizens as well as from intellectuals, Abdallah repeatedly insisted that Riyadh would combat regional, tribal and ideological discord. Much like his brother, the late King Faysal bin Abd alAziz, the current heir apparent relished the opportunity to confront the challenges that tested his will.
1 For a discussion of the key 1979 Makkah mosque takeover, see Joseph A. Kechichian, “Islamic Revivalism and Change in Saudi Arabia: Juhayman Al-Utaybi’s ‘Letters’ to the Saudi People,” The Muslim World, Vol. 70, No. 1, January 1990, pp. 1-16; and, idem., “The Role of the Ulama in the Politics of an Islamic State: The Case of Saudi Arabia,” International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 18, No. 1, February 1986, pp. 53-71. For an analysis of the will to power in a contemporary setting, see idem., “Saudi Arabia’s Will to Power,” Middle East Policy, Vol. 7, No. 2, February 2000, pp. 47-60.
2 S. Rept. No. 107351, 107th congress, 2d session and H. Rept. No. 107-792, “Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001,” Washington, DC: U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, September 2003.
3 Thomas E. Ricks, “Briefing Depicted Saudis as Enemies: Ultimatum Urged To Pentagon Board,” The Washington Post, August 6, 2002, p. A1.
4 Jack Shafer, “The Power Point That Rocked the Pentagon: The La Rouche Defector who’s Advising the Defense Establishment on Saudi Arabia,” August 7, 2002, published online by Slate at http://slate.msn.com/id/ 2069119/.
5 Dore Gold, Hatred’s Kingdom: How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism (Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2003), p. 12.
6 Robert Baer, Sleeping with the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude (New York: Crown Publishers, 2003), p. xxvii [emphasis added].
7 A carefully researched and analyzed study of the Saudi education system – that debunks most of the instant analysis arguments – is available in Eleanor Abdella Doumato, “Manning the Barricades: Islam According to Saudi Arabia’s School Texts,” The Middle East Journal, Vol. 57, No. 2, Spring 2003, pp. 230-47.
8 Many anti-Saudi reports are widely available on the Internet. For a more serious assessment, but still in the same “genre,” see Stephen Schwartz, The Two Faces of Islam: The House of Saud from Tradition to Terror (New York: Doubleday, 2002).
9 “Saudis Seen As Supporting Terror, Poll Shows,” The Washington Post, February 26, 2002, p. 19. The poll, by the Institute for Jewish and Community Research, ranked Saudi Arabia ahead of both North Korea and Syria as a supporter of international terrorism.
10 Lisa Beyer with Scott MacLeod, “Saudi Arabia: Inside the Kingdom,” Time, September 15, 2003, pp. 38-51.
11 Paul Michael Wihbey, “The End of the Affair,” The Spectator, September 6, 2003, pp. 20-21.
12 Quoted in Donna Abu-Nasr, “Saudis More Open About Recent Attacks,” The Associated Press, May 15, 2003.
13 Press Release, “Address to the Nation by Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz,” Washington, DC: Embassy of Saudi Arabia, May 13, 2003.
14 See, for example, Khalid al-Ghanami, “Al-Insan wal-Watan Ahamun min Ibn Taymiyyah” [The Human Being and the Nation are More Important than Ibn Taymiyyah], Al-Watan, May 22, 2003, p. 6. Al-Watan, which championed the anti-extremist cause, was mired in controversy and suffered significant setbacks when its editor in chief, Jamal A. Khashoggi, was eventually muzzled. See Neil MacFarquhar, “A Saudi Editor who Offended Clerics is Ousted from His Post,” The New York Times, May 28, 2003, p. A1. This setback notwithstanding, the assault on extremists was ongoing. See R. Hrair Dekmejian, “The Liberal Impulse in Saudi Arabia,” Middle East Journal, Vol. 57, No. 3, Summer 2003, pp. 400-13.
15 “Al-Qaida’s Challenge,” Mideast Mirror, May 14, 2003, section B.
16 “Interview with Interior Minister Prince Nayif bin Abd al-Aziz,” Ukaz, May 14, 2003, p. 1.
17 Press Release, “Statement by Adel Al-Jubeir, Foreign Affairs Advisor to the Crown Prince,” Washington, DC: Embassy of Saudi Arabia, June 12, 2003.
18 A discussion of how rapid changes associated with modernization inevitably imposes on traditional societies is beyond the scope of this essay. For a fascinating discussion of how modernization literally altered the conservative Saudi society, see the masterful trilogy by Abdelrahman Munif in Cities of Salt (New York: Vintage International, 1989); The Trench (New York: Pantheon Books, 1991), and Variations on Night and Day (New York: Pantheon Books, 1993).
19 Simon Henderson, “After King Fahd: Succession in Saudi Arabia,” policy paper number 37, 2nd edition, Washington, DC: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 1995; and Joseph A. Kechichian, Succession in Saudi Arabia (New York: Palgrave, 2001), especially pp. 5-9, 61-65.
20 Abdallah al-Fawzan, “Exposing the Shura,” Arab News, February 25, 2003.
21 Reuters, “Political Reform Essential for Saudi Arabia, Says Prince Talal,” Gulf News, September 13, 2003, p. 15.
23 Press Release, “Saudi Arabia’s Highest Religious Authority Warns Against the Dangers of Extremism,” Washington, DC: Embassy of Saudi Arabia, August 21, 2003.
24 Jamil al-Ziabi, “Al Shaykh wal-Turki Yushadidan ala Ahamiyat al-Masajid” [Al Shaykh and Al Turki Underscore the Importance of Mosques], Al Hayat, Number 14772, September 3, 2003, p. 4.
25 Mustafa Shihab, “Al Shaykh Yadu ila Muharabat al-Ghilu Bikul Ashkaliha” [Al Shaykh Calls to Oppose Hatred in all its Forms], Al Hayat, Number 14777, September 8, 2003, p. 4.
26 Raid Jabar, “Al-Amir Abdallah: Al-Muslimun wal-Masihiyun Qadirun ala Dahadh Quwa al-Tafaruqat” [Prince Abdallah: Muslims and Christians Capable of Refuting Divisive Forces], Al Hayat, Number 14774, September 5, 2003, pp. 1 and 6.
27 World Development Indicators, 2002, Washington, DC: The World Bank, 2002, p. 50.
28 Brad Bourland, The Saudi Economy at Mid-year 2002 (Riyadh: Saudi American Bank, August 2002), pp. 2 and 32.
29 For an interesting take on decision making that led to the invitation, see Nawaf E. Obaid, “The Oil Kingdom at 100: Petroleum Policymaking in Saudi Arabia,” Washington, DC: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2000. For the latest roadblocks that prevented an agreement, see Oliver Klaus, “Saudi Arabia: Challenging Times,” Middle East Economic Digest, Vol. 47, No. 24, June 13, 2003, pp. 25-42. The Saudi Supreme Petroleum Council announced a $2 billion “agreement in principle” with Shell-Total on November 2, 2003 for the development of a gas project. Press reports highlighted that this may well be the first of several agreements. See Agence France Presse, “Riyadh Okays Gas Deal with Shell-Total,” Gulf News, November 3, 2003, p. 37.
30 Robert E. Looney, “Saudi Arabia: Measures of Transition from a Rentier State,” Iran, Iraq, and the Arab Gulf States, Joseph A. Kechichian, ed. (New York: Palgrave, 2001), pp. 131-159.
31 Anthony H. Cordesman, Saudi Arabia Enters the Twenty-First Century: The Military and International Security Dimensions (Westport, CT and London: Praeger [published in cooperation with the Center for Strategic and International Studies], Washington, DC, 2003), especially pp. 51-68.
32 For detailed yearly data, see ibid., pp. 71-86.
33 Ibid., pp. 203-235.
34 In addition to the U.S.A.F. air wing, Sultan Air Base housed a state-of-the-art command and control center that was extensively used during the war for Afghanistan for most of 2001-2002. An updated facility was created in neighboring Qatar from which American military officers conducted the war on Iraq. See Agence France Presse, “U.S. Military Presence in Al Kharj Ends,” Gulf News, August 28, 2003, p. 12.
35 Robert G. Kaiser and David B. Ottaway, “Saudi Leader’s Anger Revealed Shaky Ties,” The Washington Post, February 10, 2002, p. A1.
36 “Iran Attacks Iraq-based Rebels as Saudi Minister Meets Iraqi Dissident in Tehran,” Mideast Mirror, April 19, 2001, Section B.
37 In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, a number of research institutions have started to canvass Arab public opinion with some regularity. The attempt to answer semi-prophetic questions of the “why do they hate us” genre suddenly required attention as the need to know overwhelmed customary patterns of neglect. Not surprisingly, available results were telling, even if consistently devastating to Americans. See, for example, The Pew Global Attitudes Project, What the World Thinks in 2002 (Washington, DC: The Pew Research Center for The People and The Press, December 2002); idem, Views of a Changing World (Washington, DC: The Pew Research Center for The People and The Press, June 2003). Pew researchers did not poll in Saudi Arabia but they conducted detailed interviews in several Muslim countries. See Brian Knowlton, “A Rising Anti-American Tide,” The International Herald Tribune, December 5, 2002, p. 6. When questioned about such anti-American feelings, President George W. Bush replied: “I hope the message that we fight not a religion, but a group of fanatics which have hijacked a religion is getting through. . . . We’ll do everything we can to remind people that we’ve never been a nation of conquerors; we’re a nation of liberators.” See Richard Morin, “World Image of U.S. Declines,” The Washington Post, December 5, 2002, p. A26. These assessments did not resonate and, even more telling, the American position – despite undeniable post-9/11 sympathy best illustrated by the French daily Le Monde headline “Nous Sommes Tous Americains” [We Are All Americans] – many dismissed the cartography painted by senior American officials. For the majority of world public opinion, dividing the world between good and evil was infantile or even comical. More recently, a study commissioned by Congress, under the chairmanship of former Ambassador Edward P. Djerejian, has concluded that the United States overlooks public diplomacy at its peril. See Report of the Advisory Group on Public Diplomacy for the Arab and Muslim World, Changing Minds, Winning Peace: A New Strategic Direction for U.S. Public Diplomacy in the Arab and Muslim World (Washington, DC: U.S. House of Representatives, October 1, 2003). See also Sonni Efron, “U.S. Advised to Invest in Its Image,” The Los Angeles Times, October 1, 2003, p. A8; and Steven R. Weisman, “U.S. Must Counteract Image in Muslim World, Panel Says,” The New York Times, October 1, 2003.
38 Michael Jansen, “Saudi Arabia: Displeasure with the U.S.,” Middle East International, No. 653, June 29, 2001, pp. 10-11.
39 Jane Perlez, “Bush Senior, on His Son’s Behalf, Reassures Saudi Leader,” The New York Times, July 15, 2001, p. 6. See also Michael Jansen, “Saudi Arabia: Pressure on the U.S.,” Middle East International, No. 655, July 27, 2001, pp. 12-13, and Reuters, “Bush Senior Calls Saudi on Mideast Report,” July 15, 2001.
40 Lamis Andoni, “Saudi Arabia: The Prince’s Peace Plan,” Middle East International, No. 670, March 8, 2002, pp. 8-10.
41 Thomas Friedman, a columnist for The New York Times, just happened to uncover the carefully designed initiative during his interview with the heir apparent. See Thomas Friedman, “Dear Arab League,“ The New York Times, February 6, 2002, p. A21.
42 Israeli negotiators insisted that Riyadh use its full leverage to pressure Yasser Arafat to end the intifada and called on Palestinian leaders to acquiesce to an annexation of certain settlement blocks. See Michael Jansen, “Arab Summit: Palestine and Iraq,” Middle East International, No. 672, April 5, 2002, pp. 7-9.
43 “America and the Arab World: A Delicate Balance,” The Economist, 363:8271, May 4, 2002, pp. 27-28. See also Caroline Montagu, “Saudi Arabia: Crown Prince in U.S.,” Middle East International, No. 674, May 3, 2002, p. 17.
44 Many of these reports highlighted the social humiliation that Iraqis endured, including long lines at food stores and disintegrating health services. Beggars emerged where the phenomenon was rare. Many Iraqis were forced to sell household goods and more personal items, including books – and in the Iraqi context this represented a most visible sacrifice – to purchase food. Saudis and others watched a relatively learned society lose the intrinsic capability to function, blaming Western-imposed sanctions on what befell their Arab brethren.
45 Radical Islamists became more popular since 2001, commanding the sympathy as well as support of the masses and, as noted above, the so-called liberal campaign – criticizing the kingdom’s religious institutions – remained weak. Jamal Khashoggi, the influential editor of the daily Al-Watan, who wrote several articles against religious authorities and criticized Wahhabi doctrine, was summarily dismissed after a senior cleric issued a fatwa calling for a boycott of the newspaper. Khashoggi accepted an advisory post to Prince Turki al-Faysal who, in turn, was appointed ambassador to London.
46 Shaykh Al-Shuaybi, considered a learned scholar in the kingdom, was briefly imprisoned in 1995. In 2001, he threatened to excommunicate the king and senior members of the ruling family, especially if the latter were to support a military offensive against Afghanistan. What concerned the regent was the frequency with which junior clerics, many of whom sympathized with Al-Shuaybi, were resorting to issuing their own religious decrees, which turned the Al Saud into “legitimate targets.” See Nicolas Pelham, “Saudi Clerics Issue Edicts Against helping ‘Infidels’,” The Christian Science Monitor, October 12, 2001, p. 4.
47 Abd al-Aziz bin Salih al-Jarbu, “The Foundations of the Legality of the Destruction that Befell America,” at www.saaid.net/book/kotop.htm.
48 Although the Bush and Blair administrations argued Iraq’s WMDs were the most compelling reason for the United States and Britain to resort to war, in the summer of 2003, the emphasis changed. At first, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz testified to congressional committees that “the evil, dictatorial nature of former president Saddam Hussein’s defunct government and the opportunity to turn Iraq into a beacon of hope for the rest of the Middle East,” were equally valid reasons to go to war. See Michael Dobbs, “Wolfowitz Shifts Rationales on Iraq War: With Weapons Unfound, Talk of Threat Gives Way to Rhetoricon Hussein, Democracy,” The Washington Post, September 12, 2003, p. A23. The logic of war shifted shortly thereafter, when Mr. Wolfowitz maintained that the WMD issue was a “bureaucratic fudge,” and that the real reason was America’s need to shift its military bases from Saudi Arabia. The nuance was not lost on Gulf pundits. A particularly perceptive commentator opined that “the world recognized what Washington refused to admit, that this was not a war of liberation but a war of occupation. Iraqis understood this immediately, which is why their relief at Saddam’s departure has not translated into a welcome for American troops.” See M. J. Akbar, “Bush has run out of ideas, but he had only one to begin with,” Gulf News (online Edition), September 15, 2003.
49 Reuters, “Amid Tensions, Saudi Envoy Meets Bush’s Father,” Gulf News, August 29, 2003, p. 16.
51 Raid Qusti, “First Rights Conference in Kingdom,” Arab News (online edition), October 14, 2003.
52 Raid Qusti, “Conference Ends With Call to Stress Islam’s Protection of Human Rights,” Arab News (online edition), October 16, 2003; and Idem., “Saudi Constitution Guarantees Human Rights,” Arab News (online edition), October 22, 2003.
53 In September 2003, 300 Saudis signed a petition, the third of the year, urging “rulers to speed promised reforms to ward off the influence of militant Islam in the Kingdom,” The Associated Press. “Saudi Arabia Announces First Local Council Elections, but No Date,” The New York Times, October 14, 2003.
54 Reuters, “Saudi Announces Plans to Hold First Elections,” The New York Times, October 13, 2003.
55 Isa Mubarak, “Saudi Arabia Says it will Hold First Elections,” The Washington Post, October 14, 2003, p. A19.
57 Slobodan Lekic, “AP Interview: Saudi Touts Vote as Reform,” The Associated Press, October 14, 2003. A day after Riyadh announced these anticipated elections, hundreds took to the streets in front of the AlMamlaka shopping mall in the capital city demanding political, economic and administrative reforms. According to Saad al-Faqih, the spokesman for the London-based Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia (MIRA), protesters called for the freedom of jailed activists. An estimated 300 protesters were arrested, although the interior ministry reported 150 arrests. Shaykh Abd al-Aziz Al Shaykh, the grand mufti, condemned the demonstration “as an act of anarchism,” and urged protesters to obey the law [that bans demonstrations]. See The Associated Press, “Saudis Protest for More Freedoms,” October 14, 2003; see also Badr Almotawa, “150 Arrested During Demo: Naif,” Arab News, October 16, 2003, p. 1.
58 Raid Qusti, “No Consensus on Citizenship Rules for Foreigners,” Arab News, October 27, 2003, p. 2. See also “Majlis al-Shura al-Saudi Yuajilu Iqrar Tadilat ala Nizam al-Jinsiyat [Shura Council Postpones Calls to Amend Citizenship Laws], Al-Hayat, No. 14826, October 27, 2003, p. 3.
59 Mazen Balelah, “Scrap the Sponsorship System,” al-Watan, October 26, 2003, reproduced in Arab News, October 27, 2003, p. 3.