Saudi Arabia - Prospects for the 21st Century.
In 1932, various tribes of the Arabian Peninsula were united by Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman. The tribes forged an alliance with the Al Saud family, who has ruled over the kingdom since. The partnership developed a legitimizing framework for their rule. Their state was based on the strict adherence to Islamic values, unity and cohesion among domestic groups, and the wealth accumulated from oil reserves. .
Successive Saudi rulers have ensured their survival through a shared sense of ideology, and a strong understanding of order. Traditionally, the successor to the throne has been one of the surviving sons of King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud, the first king, and founder of the modern state of Saudi Arabia. This process had not been expressly clarified until 1992, when King Fahd issued an edict elaborating the procedure of succession to the throne.
Today, the Saudi-tribal alliance is being contested by radical elements. Both religious and secular opposition forces are questioning the ideological principles of the Al Saud regime. Militant Islamic groups fear the domination of the royal family will detract from the Islamic roots of the state. The Al Saud's religious status is an important pillar of their rule as they host two of the three holiest sites of Islam, Mecca and Medina.
In the 1990s, the Al Saud rule seemed to be heading for a period of instability. In 1993-94, the country experienced a financial crisis. The United States military presence in the state had angered traditional Islamic forces. In November 1995, an U.S.-run Saudi National Guard installation in Riyadh was bombed, in apparent retaliation for the execution of an opposition activist in August. After the beheading of four Saudis in connection with the attack, a much more devastating bomb killed 19 United States servicemen in military barracks in Khobar.
The Committee for the Defense of Human Rights (CDLR) had led political opposition to the traditional Saudi rule.