by C Bunzel · 2016 · Cited by 48 — pdf. 27 Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, Mufid al-mustafid fi kufr tarik al-tawhid [Informing the inquirer about the unbelief of

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© 2016 Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. All rights reserved. Carnegie does not take institutional positions on public policy issues; the views represented herein are the authors™ own and do not necessarily re˜ect the views of Carnegie, its sta˚, or its trustees. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without permission in writing from the Carnegie Endowment. Please direct inquiries to: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Publications Department 1779 Massachusetts Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20036 P: +1 202 483 7600 F: +1 202 483 1840 ˛is publication can be downloaded at no cost at CP 265

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vAbout the Author Cole Bunzel is a PhD candidate in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, where his research focuses on the history of the Wahhabi movement in Saudi Arabia. An expert on jihadi thought and ideol -ogy, he is the author of From Paper State to Caliphate: ˜e Ideology of the Islamic State (Brookings Institution, March 2015). He has previously held govern -ment and think tank positions related to Syria and Iraq in Washington, DC, and has lived in Syria and Saudi Arabia. He holds an MA in international relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and an AB in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton University. ***˛is paper was published through a generous research grant from the Henry Luce Foundation. ˛e author would like to thank Frederic Wehrey for commissioning this paper and Bernard Haykel for o˚ering comments on an earlier draft. He is also grateful to the participants of an October 2015 workshop on sectarianism in the Middle East, held at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC, for their comments on a presentation of this research.

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1Summary Since late 2014 the Islamic State has declared war on Saudi Arabia and launched a series of terrorist attacks on Saudi soil intended to start an uprising. In a fur -ther attack on the Saudi kingdom, the self-declared caliphate has claimed to be the true representative of the severe form of Islam indigenous to Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism. ˛ese two very di˚erent versions of an Islamic state are at war over a shared religious heritage and territory. Heritage and Homeland Under Siege Ł ˛e Islamic State, which draws on the teachings of the Wahhabi school of Islam, ˝nds inspiration in the example of the ˝rst Saudi-Wahhabi state (1744Œ1818), which engaged in expansionary jihad and cultivated a sectar -ian animus toward the Shia. Ł ˛e Islamic State has declared three so-called provinces in Saudi Arabia and carried out some ˝fteen attacks there since November 2014. Ł ˛e Islamic State™s rise has reignited a debate in Saudi Arabia over the intolerant and aggressive nature of Wahhabism. Liberals have called for a revisionist movement, as they describe it, to expunge certain doctrines from Wahhabism. Conclusions Ł In some ways the Islamic State™s claim to the Wahhabi heritage is not unfounded. ˛e early Wahhabis advanced an exclusivist version of Sunni Islam that was universally seen as a heresy, founded a state that waged expansionary jihad against fellow Sunni Muslims, and killed Shia Muslims because they were seen as hopeless idolaters. ˛e Islamic State has done the same on all three counts. Ł Other features of the Islamic State™s ideologyŠfrom the declaration of a caliphate to the use of extraordinary violence to the group™s apocalyptic fervorŠdo not ˝nd a mainstream Wahhabi precedent. Ł ˛e Islamic State™s campaign in Saudi Arabia has slowed considerably since October 2015. Despite concerted propaganda e˚orts, the group appears to be making little headway against a state out˝tted with one of the most advanced counterterrorism infrastructures in the world. But given the sub -stantial Islamic State following in Saudi Arabia, more attacks, however occasional, can be expected.

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2˜|˜The Kingdom and the Caliphate: Duel of the Islamic States Ł Saudi Arabia is a long way from pursuing meaningful reforms of Wahhabi doctrine. Saudi liberals™ criticism of Wahhabism is tolerated as of early 2016 more than ever before, despite the kingdom™s religious scholars who would prefer the government silence them. But the new political leader -ship is busy consolidating power, while the religious leadership is defensive and mired in conspiracy theories.

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3Introduction For Osama bin Laden, the United States was the fihead of the snakeflŠthe primary target of al-Qaeda™s jihad. fiIts many tails,fl the authoritarian regimes of the Middle East, were deemed of secondary importance. 1For Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, however, it is the regime in Saudi Arabia that is the fihead of the snake,fl as he has said in a metaphorical revision worthy of note. 2 ˛is revision by the leader of the Islamic State marks a signi˝cant change in the priorities of the global jihadi movement now spearheaded by that group. Notwithstanding the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015, this group™s focus is on the Middle East before the West. Its slogan, firemaining and expanding,fl is indicative of its foremost aims: entrenching itself in its Syrian and Iraqi territories and conquering new ones. One of those territories increasingly in its sights is Saudi Arabia, home to Islam™s holiest places and one-quarter of the world™s known oil reserves. ˛e competition between the jihadi statelet and the Gulf monarchy is play -ing out on two levels, one ideological and one material. Ideologically, the Islamic State presents itself as the true guardian of the particular version of Islam native to Saudi ArabiaŠthat is, Wahhabism, a variant of Sala˝sm. 3 Over the past two decades the jihadi-Sala˝ movement, which encompasses both al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, has become more Wahhabi in orientation, its leaders and thinkers rooting their radical ideas in the Wahhabi tradition. 4 Wahhabism has thus emerged as the most prominent feature of the Islamic State™s ideology. It follows that the con˜ict between Saudi Arabia and the Islamic State can be understood as one between competing models of the same idea, namely, an Islamic state. Both are self-professed Islamic polities claiming to represent Wahhabi Islam. Materially, the Islamic State has launched a string of attacks on Saudi soil, targeting Shia civilians and Saudi security forces, and has made its presence o˙cial with the establishment of three declared provinces. ˛e latter are, of course, provinces in name only. ˛e Islamic State does not administer or oversee territory in Saudi Arabia; it carries out terrorist attacks in the name of an administrative ˝ction that it hopes one day to make reality. While for the foreseeable future the provinces will remain ˝ctional, the terrorism intended to realize them is likely to continue. ˛roughout 2015, several authors o˚ered rather unfavorable comparisons of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic State, some drawing a direct line from one to The competition between the jihadi statelet and the Gulf monarchy is playing out on two levels, one ideological and one material.

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4˜|˜The Kingdom and the Caliphate: Duel of the Islamic States the other. ˛ey pointed out the similar educational curricula used by the two and the shared practice of beheading, among other things. 5 Kamel Daoud, in a November 2015 New York Times op-ed, argued that fiSaudi Arabia is a Daesh that has made it,fl referring to the group by the Arabic acronym for its former nameŠa fidressed upfl form of the same thing. 6 But for the most part these comparisons are wide of the mark, as Saudi Arabia seeks partnership with the West and does not aspire to global conquest. ˛e comparison worth noting is the one in the minds of the Islamic State™s jihadi thinkers, the idea that Saudi Arabia is a failed version of the Islamic State. As they see it, Saudi Arabia started out, way back in the mid-eighteenth century, as something much like the Islamic State but gradually lost its way, abandoning its expansionist tendencies and sacri˝cing the aggressive spirit of early Wahhabism at the altar of modernity. ˛is worldview is the starting point for understanding the contest between the kingdom and the caliphate, two very di˚erent versions of Islamic states competing over a shared religious heri -tage and territory. The Islamic State and Wahhabism fiWahhabismfl is historically a pejorative term, so its adherents generally do not identify as such. But certain words and phrases serve to indicate a˙liation. ˛us the Islamic State addresses its supporters in Saudi Arabia, the historical heartland of Wahhabism, as fithe people of tawhid fl (God™s unity) and fithe people of al-wala wal-bara fl (association and dissociation), appealing to them via the most prominent Wahhabi theological concepts. In doing so, it empha -sizes the historical position of the Saudi people as the keepers of the Wahhabi creed. ˛e Al Saud, the royal family, in the Islamic State™s telling, has failed to live up to expectations, selling out the creed. In the group™s imagery, the royal family has become the Al Salul, a designation referring to Abdallah ibn Ubayy ibn Salul, a leader of the so-called fihypocritesfl of early Islam who are repeat -edly denounced in the Quran. Competing Models Historically, Saudi Arabia has pinned its legitimacy on the support it gives to Wahhabism, a theologically exclusivist form of Sunni Islam that arose in central Arabia in the mid-eighteenth century. ˛e government has con -ferred on the Wahhabi religious establishment the privilege of regulating social order, granting the religious scholars a large degree of control over the judicial and educational systems and allowing them to run a religious police force. In return, the rulers earn the approval of a deeply conservative Wahhabi populace. By these means, the kingdom™s rulers have long portrayed theirs as an Islamic state, and King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who acceded to the throne in

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