British – Salafi (Wahhabi) Partnership

Ottoman Empire’s period was peacetime for not only just Muslims, but also Christians and Jews. Along with the modernization, colonial targets of European countries split both Ottoman State and the Islamic World.

Europe’s largest colonial country was the United Kingdom named as “the empire on which the sun never sets”. The main goal of the United Kingdom was to dominate India’s rich resources. For this purpose, while U.K. on the one hand was developing new strategies about India, on the other hand she was aiming to control Saud Peninsula which was on the trade routes to Europe.

The British has contributed greatly to the development of the two major Islamist movement for dominance of the Middle East and India. The first of these was Sikhs who developed a new understanding as mixture of Islam and Hinduism against both Islam and Hinduism. Especially after 1850, the British and Sikhs began to act together. The British army consisted of about 20% Sikhs in First World War.

The second movement which is serving the British imperialism was Salafi movement, known as Wahhabis. Mohammed Bin Abdulvehhab, founder of the Wahhabi movement, was born in Uveyne Village near the city of Riyadh in 1703. He received his first religious education from his father, who was a Muslim judge, in Mecca and Medina. He went to Basra and Baghdad in his youth and stayed here for 5 years. He met in Basra Hempher who was a British spy. Hempher was sent by the British Colonial Office to Egypt, Iraq and Hejaz regions. He stayed a long time in Istanbul and learned Turkish, Arabic and Persian. Hempher reported in his memoirs which were published later, “How he became friends with Muhammad bin Abdulvehhab, how he helped him to marry with a Shiite women and how he contributed to the development of his Jihad ideas.

During his years in Basra, Abdulvehhab also took lessons from Shiite Scholars with Hempher. Their common enemy with Shiites was the Ottoman Sultan. Upon the death of his father in 1740, he came back to home country and began promoting his idea in Najd region. He was opposed to the new practices, shrines and sectarians which emerged after the Prophet Muhammad. He thought that he had to kill everyone who believed these ideas. He also demolished a famous shrine in the village. People were scared of him very much and complained about him to the commander of region. Thereupon Abdulvehhab left from his village and came to another village where Saud family live. They formed associations and Wahhabi State was found in 1744.

After the year 1746, the idea of Jihad which was carried out jointly by Abdulvehhab and Saud Dynasty against the Ottoman State, began to spread all of the Saud Peninsula Area. Wahhabis also seized Kuwait in 1788 and the idea of Wahhabism spread to Syria and Iraq. Abdulvehhab died in 1792. Wahhabis attacked Karbala, which was the holly city for Shiites and destroyed some holly places and the tomb of Hazrat Hussein. Abdulaziz was killed by a Shiite in 1803 and Wahhabis returned to Mecca. During these years, Wahhabis’ warriors were about 10 thousand.

Along with the First World War, the British occupied the Saudi Peninsula in 1916. The Ottoman State was forced to withdraw from the Middle East. The British which had been working to seize the Azeri and Iraq oil resources since 1850, also settled the region’s third-largest oil area. During these years, Major-General Sir Percy Zachariah Cox who was the British colonial administrator in the Middle East, established strong relations with Ibn Saud.

In 1932, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was formally established. Saudis partnered with Standard Oil of California whose boss was John D. Rockefeller, in 1933. This partnership took the name of ARAMCO (Arabian – American Oil Company) with the participation of Texas Oil Company. After these years, Aramco, British Petroleum, Royal Ducth Shell and Gulf Oil formed a cartel in the oil sector.

In the 1970s, Afghan Resistance Movement and Taliban Movement which were the Oil Transportation Project of Central Asian Oil through Afghanistan and Pakistan to the warm seas, were significantly supported by the Saudis. When the US–Taliban alliance deteriorated, Oil Pipeline Project of UNOCAL Oil Company (though Afghanistan and Pakistan) failed. Zalmay Khalilzad had conducted these negotiations with Taliban on behalf of UNOCAL.

After the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the biggest enemy for the Western countries, Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries was Iran. After the Iraq War, Maliki Government, Iran and Syria Management established a new alliance with help of Russia. The Saudis have made financial assistance to Islamist groups who were fighting against this alliance.

Today, Salafi Islamist Groups in Iraq and Syria are supported by Saudi Intelligence Service. The opposition groups in Jordan and Saudi borders are trained by the British, the U.S., Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia Special Forces. The Palestinians from Jordan and Salafi Islamists from Caucasia have become the pioneers of new wars in the region, with the help of MI6 and the Jordanian Intelligence Service which based on Caucasian origin.

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