In the future, the world will change. As a petro-dollar sacred needle, will Saudi Arabia betray the United States?

Translated from the Headlines (Toutiao 头条新闻)

Author: Liu Ye Dan (六爷阿丹)

In the Middle East, there is a ruthless role that is easily overlooked, that is, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has always given people the impression that it is a rich and willful local tyrant. Money is always easy to blind people’s eyes. In fact, under the appearance of local tyrants, Saudi Arabia still has a hot heart that is ready to move.

The current world pattern, in a sense, was changed because of a decision made by Saudi Arabia. In the 1970s, when the Soviet Union was in full swing, the United States, because of the disintegration of the Bretton Woods system, and the US dollar had no anchors, caused great inflation in the country and plunged into the quagmire of the Vietnam War. At this time, something went wrong in the Middle East.

In 1973, while the United States was in danger, Egypt and Syria launched the fourth Middle East war against Israel. At the same time, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries led by Saudi Arabia initiated an oil embargo against Western countries, leading to the outbreak of the first oil crisis. The U.S. power in the Middle East faltered for a while.

But at a critical moment, the United States struck a snake and struck seven inches and fully supported Israel in winning the war. After a good start, as the war situation reversed, the Arab countries realized a problem, and the Soviet Union was unreliable. In the second year, Saudi Arabia signed a petro-dollar agreement with the United States. All oil trade can only be settled in U.S. dollars.

In this way, Saudi Arabia is completely thrown into the arms of the United States. Since then, the dollar has had a physical anchor and has gradually stabilized. In the subsequent oil price war, the Soviet Union was defeated by the United States and Saudi Arabia. The Soviet Union originally relied on oil exports to make money. As a result, the oil price plummeted and the financial situation deteriorated seriously, laying the groundwork for disintegration.

Therefore, it is not an exaggeration to say that Saudi Arabia is the nobleman of the United States. But in the changing world in the future, will the nobles betray the United States in the future? To clarify this issue, we have to start with Saudi Arabia’s national interests.

Saudi sectarian influence

The biggest characteristics of Saudi Arabia are just two. First, it is still a royal state, and second, it is also a religious state. To understand Saudi Arabia, there is no way to get around the issue of religion. Speaking of this, we must also talk about the issue of sects, because Saudi Arabia is the Wahhabi sect of Sunni Islam.

There are many countries in the world that believe in Islam. A few of them belong to Shia, and most of them belong to Sunni. One of these two countries is dominated by Iran and the other is dominated by Saudi Arabia. We all know that Iran and Saudi Arabia have not dealt with each other for a long time, and it has a lot to do with the differences between these two factions.

This divergence can be divided into two points if you put it briefly, one is history and the other is reality.

The most important historical differences are differences in who is the orthodox successor. Both Islam and Christianity originated from ancient Judaism, but the former mainly believed in the prophet Muhammad. Mohammed lived in about 570-632 AD, which is the Sui and Tang dynasties in our history.

Mohammed did not have a son, and he did not designate a successor, so after him, there was a disagreement on who would inherit the Caliph. The first caliph was Mohammed’s father-in-law, who died two years after he succeeded. The number two man at the time inherited the second caliph and was assassinated ten years later. Mohammed’s son-in-law inherited the third caliph and was assassinated twelve years later. Later, Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, Ali succeeded the fourth caliph, and five years later, he was also assassinated.

At this point, historical divergence emerged. Sunnis believed that all four of them were orthodox, while Shiites only recognized the fourth caliph as orthodox. There is a painful history hidden in it.

The era dominated by these four caliphs in history was the period of Emperor Taizong of Tang Dynasty and Emperor Gaozong of the Tang Dynasty. The first three caliphs led the Arab empire to expand vigorously and destroyed the Persian empire next to it. The Persians originally believed in Zoroastrianism, and they forced the Persians to convert to Islam. Prince Belus, the last Sassanid dynasty of Persia, fled all the way to Chang’an and asked Tang Gaozong to send troops to save the country, but failed to do so, and finally died in China.

Therefore, the hidden section is actually the history of Iranian national subjugation.

Then why did they recognize the fourth caliph Ali again? The main reason is that Ali’s youngest son, Hussein, married the last Persian princess, so from now on, the Shi’ites with Persians at the core only recognize Ali and his immediate descendants as the orthodox successors because there is the Persian royal family in it. Pedigree.

Later, Hussein was also killed and two generations of caliphs were killed. Since then, Shiites and Sunnis have forged a bloody feud, which continues to this day.

Of course, more than a thousand years have passed, and time can supposedly erase many differences, but different social realities have given them new differences.

The most important difference, in reality, is the impact on real life, and the core point is the difference between the two schools of teaching. Sunni believe that people’s lives can only be based on the “Quran” and the Sunnah, and cannot be interpreted and changed at will. Shiites believe that religious leaders can interpret them with the times and formulate different norms.

This is actually equivalent to the question of the ownership of power within two different countries. Religious leaders and priests who can interpret the scriptures must have the power to formulate and interpret laws, and vice versa.

So referring to reality, it is easy to understand why Saudi Arabia not only believes in Sunnis but also is the most conservative Wahhabi among Sunnis. Because of this choice, in a religious society, the easiest priest to become an authoritative priest cannot rise, and no one can challenge the power of the royal family.

All for kingship

We have already written about Turkey’s “Future World Changes, the bridgehead of the conflict between Eastern and Western civilizations. Where will Turkey eventually fall?” “” and “Iran’s “Future World Changes”, both say that Iran is very pro-American inside. Will our cooperation be futile? “For the modernization choice, Turkey chose complete Westernization because the founding leader Kemal had absolute authority. Iran has no such foundation and chose religious leaders to supervise the country and carry out controllable modernization.

The Saudi royal family has not been wiped out like Turkey and Iran but has maintained its power. For them, thorough Westernization is absolutely undesirable. This will shake the royal power, and even the gradual modernization like Iran is the source of turmoil.

So they chose the most conservative Wahhabi sect. This Wahhabi sect is notoriously extremely conservative among Sunni sects. The typical thing is that it cannot engage in idolatry, so it cannot have sculptures or even take pictures, as well as many behaviors that extend from it, such as birthday parties. Music, dance, and the like.

Let’s compare the election activities in the United States. If these cannot be carried out, it is basically unlikely that a charismatic opposition will be elected. If you don’t even have channels and opportunities to promote yourself, how could you unite with a group of people, let alone overthrow the king?

In religious countries, if there is no secular reform, it can be said that there is basically nothing that can threaten the stability of the royal power. The most likely threat is the clergy. But after adopting an ultra-conservative sect, this greatest threat was basically eliminated.

Of course, in addition to this arrangement, Saudi Arabia has an advantage that no individual has, that is, it has money.

Saudi Arabia has been the largest oil exporter for many years and has made a fortune by selling oil. When we talked about Turkey before, we said that the most feared thing about modernization is to copy Westernization completely.

Because there is a catastrophe in Westernization, no matter which country takes this path, it will encounter this catastrophe sooner or later. If the catastrophe passes, it will be fine. If it cannot pass, it will definitely encounter a violent resurgence of extreme forces. This catastrophe is the polarization of the rich and the poor caused by the capitalist economic system.

This can be said to be a dead knot that has not been solved for so many years. In Western countries, using democratic elections with this system can alleviate conflicts to a certain extent, because if this doesn’t work, you chose it yourself. If you are not satisfied, you can change it next time.

However, the Middle East is all Islamic countries. They have not experienced radical religious reforms from Christianity to Protestantism. Therefore, their ideology and culture are still easily affected by tradition. Once copied, the capitalist economy will grow rapidly from the beginning to the latter. With the polarization of the country, then they will begin to settle accounts for modernization.

This is what Turkey is experiencing now. Iran did not have such powerful figures in the first place, so the gradual modernization seems to be relatively stable now. But Saudi Arabia has no choice but to do the opposite and return directly to the most conservative state.

But even so, Saudi Arabia’s oil sales will inevitably be affected by the global economic cycle, and there will still be a problem of polarization. I have to say that Saudi Arabia has always been a ruthless person. They used a very clever way to crack this problem.

I don’t know whether this achievement can win the Nobel Prize, but it does ensure that Saudi Arabia will continue to maintain stability under the impact of the wave of industrialization and modernization throughout the world. What method did they use? Can we learn?

This is really hard to learn.

Saudi Arabia’s approach is to introduce a large number of foreign workers, but at the same time tighten immigration policies. The population of Saudi Arabia is about 34 million, of which only about 62% have Saudi citizenship, which means that there are more than 10 million people in Saudi Arabia, all of whom are foreign workers. Most of the locals in Saudi Arabia belong to the rich and middle class. Of course, this is compared with labor.

Not only that, in the past few decades, foreign workers have required guarantees when they go to work in Saudi Arabia. This guarantee is very important. If the employer disagrees, you can’t find a job by yourself. This guarantees the stability of the labor. . These tens of millions of foreign workers are used to bear the consequences of polarization.

The natives are supported by high welfare.

This perfectly resolved the biggest social contradiction. People say that if the bottom is not able to survive, it is easy to make trouble, but the bottom of Saudi Arabia is all foreigners. The money they make in Saudi Arabia is compared with their own country. That is the local tyrant. What are you doing? Besides, you are not a Saudi, and you are not qualified to make trouble.

So in Saudi Arabia, usually a local family, men go to work, women take care of the house, then hire a Filipino nanny to do housework, and then hire a Pakistani driver to drive and go shopping and grocery shopping. In the past few years, oil prices have been sluggish, and fiscal revenue has been slightly affected. In order to ensure everyone’s life satisfaction, Saudi Arabia has lifted the ban on women not being able to drive.

In this case, if the family income is not enough to spend, you can drive by yourself, and then drive the driver. What if the driver is out of work? Those are all foreign drivers. No matter what you do, if you don’t like to do dirty work, then you can return to your country. Some people do it. Every year, people in Southeast Asia who rush to work in Saudi Arabia have to queue up and can’t get visas.

It is foreseeable that as long as Saudi Arabia’s oil is not exhausted, the good days will continue.

Where is Saudi Arabia’s road to modernization

Although there are no near-term worries, Saudi Arabia is not without distant worries. In terms of external influence, there are two problems.

The first problem is that everyone is now engaged in new energy. This is a big deal for Saudi Arabia, because Saudi Arabia’s fiscal revenue mainly depends on oil exports and the petrochemical industry. Even a country as large as Saudi Arabia does not even have a decent river, large tracts of desert, to feed these tens of millions of people, at the very least, there is not even enough water.

Almost half of Saudi Arabia’s water comes from desalination. This is not afraid that you will run out of seawater, but the cost is high. For such a high-cost social operation, it is necessary to rely on oil exports to make money. It’s no wonder that Saudi Arabia can’t do industrialization and modernization. They pray five times a day, each takes 30 minutes. When the time comes, even when the sky falls, they have to put down their work, spread their blankets, and start praying.

If this is 996’s factory, which one can stand this? Does the machine start or stop when the person rests? Therefore, the future of Saudi Arabia may lie in informationization and intelligence, large-scale implementation of 5G and AI artificial intelligence, and automatic operation of machines. Generally speaking, the machine should not pray.

The second question is whether there will be accidents in the United States in the future? Oil revenue accounts for the absolute majority, and oil revenues are all denominated in U.S. dollars. In fact, Saudi Arabia’s fate is tied to U.S. dollars. If the United States fails, should oil exports still insist that they must be settled in U.S. dollars?

If you don’t use US dollars, it will move the nation’s capital and kill him. With US dollars, the US dollars will become more and more worthless if they continue to play like this, and sooner or later they will end. The national fortune of the United States is tied to Saudi Arabia, but the Saudi royal family cannot be led by the U.S. dollar.

Under these two issues, it is really a challenge for Saudi Arabia. And the three major powers in the Middle East, Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, who can complete the modernization and eventually rise? In the next article, I will make a comprehensive comparison.

finally

Over the past few decades, the Saudi royal family has been insightful about the world situation and has to be said to be a master of strategy. In the Cold War, facing the defeat of the Fourth Middle East War, we decisively chose the United States. After that, we fully cooperated with the United States in the 1985 oil war and increased the output from 2 million barrels per day to 10 million barrels per day. 30 US dollars/barrel, hitting 10 US dollars/barrel, greatly hurt the Soviet Union’s vitality.

It can also be seen that the Saudi royal family is not simple and decisive. Before turning to the United States, we worked with the Soviet Union to vigorously support Arab countries to fight Israel, but once the Soviet Union was abandoned, it was nothing.

The United States is very good at controlling democratic countries, but it is not easy to control such a monarchy. When a certain prince caused the 9/11 incident, the United States did not turn its face with Saudi Arabia. On the other hand, the most important thing for Saudi Arabia is to ensure the stability of its royal power, and it will never give priority to the interests of the United States.

This is a country that is most easily underestimated, but it should not be underestimated. In the future, no matter what choice Saudi Arabia makes, it will in fact still have a decisive influence on the changes in the world structure.