The death of King Fahd is a momentous event that marks the passage of time. Journalists and pundits will no doubt retrace the life of Saudi Arabia ’s late monarch who led the Kingdom for over two decades. He reigned over the most important Muslim country with the strongest economy in the Arab world. A a country God blessed with oil and the core of Arab nationalism, Saudi Arabia is a major player regionally and internationally.
Commentators will describe how the Prince oversaw and developed education in the Kingdom since his first days in government as Minister of Education. They will portray a King whose nation reached the zenith of its power during his reign. They will note the late monarch will forever be remembered for the the colossal structures of the two Holy Mosques in Mecca and Medina that were expanded during his rule, just as the Umayyad ruler al Walid Ibn Abdel Malik’s name remains on people’s minds, as he completed the al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.
King Fahd reigned in difficult circumstances. Throughout the region, nationalism was spreading, revolutionary regimes were increasing their zeal, Lebanon was engulfed in a bloody civil war, and the Palestinian resistance split into several factions. Amidst all these fervor, political moderation which Saudi Arabia is known for in its foreign policy was targeted.
Under his leadership , Saudi Arabia espoused political moderation and rejected leftist political immaturity and rightist extremism of Ayatollah Khomeini. Instead, the Kingdom opted for the middle path and steered clear of right and left. The Arab Summit held in Fez, in Morocco in 1982 where the King announced a proposal to solve the Palestinian problem is a clear example of the rebuff of Saudi rationalism on the hands of inflexible and ignorance politicians
What remains most vivid in my memory, as a young Saudi man, was his decision to seek help from U.S military and allied forces to halt the aggression of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein on the Kingdom and neighboring Kuwait . His was a historic choice and it meant King Fahd became the last bastion against fascist forces and revolutionary voices in the region who applauded and cheered Saddam when he annexed Kuwait . They might have double their praise had the ex- Iraqi dictator ordered his Mongol army to seize Saudi territory.
Let us stop and imagine for one second what might have happened had King Fahd listened to the nonsense of the nationalists and their sympathizers during in the Gulf crisis or, for that matter listened to Osama bin Laden’s advice to rely on Afghan Arab mujahedeen to fight the might of the Iraqi army. At the time, the dominant voices in the Arab and Islamic worlds supported these views which disregard the national interest of a country such as Saudi Arabia , instead favoring absolute beliefs based on lies and ideas of old.
King Fahd weathered the storm and emerged an even stronger leader. He did so by staying focused on the ultimate goal and reaching for it. The late Saudi ruler put aside objections from the feeble and evil wishers and took the momentous decision which changed the course of history. Historians will recall his brave choice for years to come; it has ensured our land is still ours to walk on at we please.
Finally, government in Saudi Arabia is also distinguished by its immutable beliefs. Of course, nothing lasts forever in societies and countries around the world. Yet rationality and moderation remain two permanent features of the Kingdom’s foreign policies. King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz who succeeds King Fahd will continue his ancestors” policies. The new monarch will upgrade, develop, and increase already existing potential and carry out the reformist project which began in the early 1990s.
Faced with the certainty of death, man can only record a small part of reality and which for a prosperous future, under the leadership of King Abdulalh bin Abdulaziz, may God help him carry this responsibility he more than suited for…