Wahhabism and Saudi Arabia - Controlling Global Jihadism?

Link: Lecture Series "Contemporary Political Islam"


Lecture: Paul Aarts (Universiteit Amsterdam)
Discussant: Fabio Merone (Menarg, UGent)

In recent times there is much talk about the Saudi ‘export of Wahhabism’, and some even allege that Saudi Arabia is at least partly to be held responsible for Jihadist extremism, including the Islamic State’s brutalities.  The Islamic State, and other violent Salafi groups like al-Qaeda, are however much less ‘neo-Wahhabi’ or ‘Wahhabi 3.0’ than a typical illustration of the sorcerer’s apprentice phenomenon. The eighteenth-century mutual aid pact between Ibn Saud and Muhammad Ibn Ab al-Wahhab holds good to this day. The establishment Wahhabi clerics guarantee the political legitimacy of the House of Saud. In its turn the royal family largely refrains from interference with the ultra-puritanical (and anti-Shiite) Sunni foundations of the Kingdom insisted on by the conservative clergy. This relationship has not been without frictions however. When did these happen and what were the consequences? How does the religious field look like these days? Do the Saudis really control global Jihadism or is Saudi Wahhabism profoundly quietist?

Paul Aarts has been a senior lecturer in International Relations at the Department of Political Science at the University of Amsterdam). He mainly worked in the field of Middle East politics. He developed the 'Zeytun Academic Exchange' program with academic institutes in several Middle Eastern countries. He mainly writes on the Gulf countries, Saudi Arabia in particular. His latest publication is Saudi Arabia. A Kingdom in Peril (Hurst 2016), co-authored by Carolien Roelants. This title is also available in Dutch and Arabic (and soon in Persian).

Fabio Merone is a PhD candidate at the Middle East and North Africa Research Group, Ghent University. Based in Tunisia for over 12 years, he’s doing research on the evolution of Islamism in Tunisian democratic transition. Fabio Merone has published in several academic international journals including among others “Democratization”, “Middle East Policy”, “British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies”,“Middle East Law and Governance” and “ Journal of Political Ideologies”.

This lecture is part of the series "Contemporary Polical Islam[+INFO]