Saudi Arabia


1932:

September - The areas controlled by Abd-al-Aziz are unified under the name Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Abd-al-Aziz is proclaimed King. [1]

1933:

King Abd-al-Aziz's eldest son, Saud, is named Crown Prince. [1]

1938:

Oil is discovered and production begins under the US-controlled Aramco (Arabian American Oil Company). [1]

1940-45:

Saudi Arabia is on the allied side during World War II, giving room for an US air base in Dhahran. [2]

1945:

The US State Department describes Saudi Arabian energy resources as "a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history." [12]

1947:

British planners describe Saudi oil as "a vital prize for any power interested in world influence or domination." [11]

1951:

A new agreement with Aramco (Arabian American Oil Company), gives Saudi Arabia 50% of all earnings from the oil, as Aramco starts paying tax to Saudi Arabia instead of to the US government. [2]

1953:

November - King Abd-al-Aziz dies and is succeeded by the Crown Prince Saud Bin-Abd-al-Aziz Al Saud. The new King's brother, Faysal is named Crown Prince. [1]

1956:

Loan of US$10 million is given to Egypt after their assets are frozen in connection with the Suez situation. After the British, French and Israeli attack on Egypt in October and November, Saudi Arabia reduced its economical and political relationship to both countries. [2]

1957:

As a result of a visit by King Saud to USA, relations with USA are enhanced. This especially involved increase in Saudi buys of US military equipment. Later this year Saudi Arabia declares that the Gulf of Aqaba is Saudi territory. [2]

The US enlists Saudi help in a coup plot against Nasser of Egypt. [14]

1958:

Change in the constitutional construction, where the kings absolute power is reduced, and legislative and executive powers are transferred to the prime minister. A couple of months later a cabinet system is introduced. [2]

1960:

Saudi Arabia is a founding member of OPEC (Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries). [1]

1962:

October - King Saud is forced to transfer effective power to his brother, Faisal. The background for this is Saud's total lack of control over economy. Faisal introduces a system of official institutions handling economical functions. — Relations with Egypt are severed after Egypt and Saudi Arabia support each their part in the Yemeni revolution — Saudi Arabia supports the imam of Yemen. This conflict escalates to a level where Egypt went on to bomb Saudi towns. [2]

1963:

Saudi Arabia mobilizes its army after the deterioration of relations with Egypt. [2]

1964:

November - King Saud is deposed by his brother, the Crown Prince, Faysal Bin-Abd-al-Aziz Al Saud. [1]

1967:

With the foreplay to the Six Day War in 1967 Saudi Arabia expresses support for Egypt, and even sends 20,000 soldiers to help in the war. When Egypt later that year withdrew from Yemen, Saudi Arabia gave extensive help to Egypt. [2]

1970:

Saudi Arabia recognizes the government of Yemen, that now is controlled by the party that was supported by Egypt. [2]

The OIC (Organization of the Islamic Conference) is founded in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. [1]

1972:

For the first time, Saudi Arabia gains control of a proportion (20 per cent) of Aramco lessening the control of the Americans over Saudi's oil. [1]

1973:

Saudi Arabia plays a leading role in a oil boycott against those Western countries that supported Israel in the Yom Kippur War. This resulted in oil prices four times higher than earlier. [2]

1974:

Threatening statements from US Defence Secretary prompts Saudis and Kuwaitis to mine their oil fields in preparation for a US invasion. [3] The issue of the oil boycott is however resolved entirely by diplomatic means. [14]

US companies and the US Treasury Department start planning for the modernisation of Saudi Arabia's infrastructure with the objectives of: maximising payouts to US firms and making Saudi Arabia increasingly dependent on the United States. [13]

Part of the plan is for the Saudis to guarantee to maintain oil supplies and prices at levels that could fluctuate but would always remain acceptable to the US and its allies. In exchange the US commit to provide to the House of Saud total and unequivocal political and if necessary military support, thereby ensuring their continued existence as the rulers of their country. Also as part of the deal the Saudis agree to use their wealth to purchase US government securities, the interest earned by these securities will be used, by the US Treasury, to modernise Saudi Arabia, using US companies. In short the US Treasury will use Saudi money to hire US companies to rebuild the Saudi infrastructure. The House of Saud is coerced and bribed into accepting the deal. [13]

One form of support the House of Saud receives from about this time onwards, is the training and support of the Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG). Both the US and Britain provide this training. The SANG defend the royal family from social unrest and coups, ensuring they remain in power no matter what. [11]

1975:

King Faisal is murdered. Khalid becomes new king, but his weak health makes his half brother Fahd the the true exercising power. [2]

1979:

With the signing of the Camp David agreement, Saudi Arabia cuts off its financial aid to Egypt. [2]

20th November - On this day, the first day in the Muslim calendar's year 1400, a group of Sunni Muslims barricades themselves inside the Holy Mosque of Mecca. They claim that the promised Mahdi is among them. They hold out for 15 days (until December 4) and it seems that as many as 200 are killed. The true identity of the rebels is still not fully known. [2]

1980s:

CIA Director William Casey arranges for Saudi Arabia to pay $2 million to prevent the Communists achieving electoral gains in Italy. [14]

The US constructs a series of military communication systems "superbases" in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis foot nearly all the $200 billion bill for these bases. [14]

The US has Saudi Arabia fund and support the mujahedeen fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan. They provide hundreds of millions of dollars each year, probably totaling more than a billion dollars. One of those mujahideen being Saudi national Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden is recruited by the CIA to help lead and raise funds for the mujahideen. [11] [13] [14] [16]

The U.S.-supported regimes in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia support Iraq's war effort [against Iran]. Kuwait contributes over $30 billion. The U.S. sell over $20 billion worth of arms to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states during this period and allow Saudi Arabia to transfer large quantities of U.S. arms to Iraq during the war. [4] [14]

1980:

Saudi Arabia takes full control over Aramco. [2]

1981:

May - Saudi Arabia is a founder member of the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council). [1]

1982:

King Khalid dies. He is succeeded by Fahd. [2]

1985:

UK signs first Al Yamamah deal with Saudi Arabia. Massive bribery and corruption is alleged during this deal and the second in 1988. As usual the appalling human rights record of Saudi Arabia is not an issue. [5] [6] [7] [8] [11] [15]

1987:

Saudi Arabia resumes diplomatic relations with Egypt, severed since 1979. [1]

31st July - 400 Iranian pilgrims are killed after clashes with Saudi security forces in Mecca. [2]

1988:

Second Al Yamamah deal with the UK is signed, the biggest arms deal ever, worth £50 billion. Again bribery and corruption is alleged. [5] [6] [7] [8] [11]

The deal also allegedly included “electronic batons” used for torture. [9] [10]

1990:

July - 1,400 pilgrims dies after a bridge and tunnel accident. [2]

5th August – The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait is dramatic to Saudi politics and security. Saudi Arabia allows hundreds of thousands of foreign troops (mainly US) to be stationed on their own soil. [2]

Neither the US nor the Saudis consider it remotely likely that Iraq would invade Saudi Arabia, but US Defense Secretary Cheney flies to Riyadh and tells King Fahd that his country is in danger and needs US forces there to protect it. Saudi Arabia accepts the forces. [14]

The US pressures Saudi Arabia and others to support its motions against Iraq in the UN by having them give various perks to wavering nations. [14]

September - Bush tells congress that huge numbers of Iraqi troops and tanks are massing in Kuwait to threaten Saudi Arabia. Russian satellite pictures show nothing of the sort. [3]

1992:

Constitutional changes where a consultative council, shura, is established, along with a bill of rights and clear rules for succession for the king. [2]

Relations with Jordan deteriorate, as Jordan questions Saudi supremacy as protector of the Holy places. [2]

1993:

USA asks Saudi Arabia to pay for the Gulf War, that cost USA alone US$51 billion. This comes at a time when the Saudi economy is facing severe problems, with budget deficits. [2]

1994:

Islamic dissident Osama Bin Laden is stripped of his Saudi nationality. [1]

1996:

MoD quietly sends first of several training teams to assist Saudi Arabia in ‘internal security’ as part of wider support to Saudi Arabian National Guard, the force that protects the ruling family. [11]

June - A bomb explodes at the US military complex near Dhahran killing 19 and wounding over 300. It is deemed probable that those responsible had fought in the US sponsered war in Afghanistan. Those the US had had trained had turned upon them. [1] [16]

1997:

July - King Fahd increases the members of the Consultative Council (majlis al-shura) from sixty to ninety. [1]

1999:

October - Twenty Saudi women attend a session of the Consultative Council for the first time. [1]

2000:

September - The London-based human rights group Amnesty International describes Saudi Arabia's treatment of women, particularly foreign domestic workers, as "untenable" by any legal or moral standard. [1]

2001:

March - Several British workers are arrested in Riyadh after a series of blasts in which a British and an American national are killed. [1]

April - Saudi Arabia and Iran sign a major security accord to combat terrorism, drug-trafficking and organised crime. [1]

11th September - Fifteen of the 19 hijackers involved in attacks on New York and Washington are Saudi nationals. [1] [15]

After the attacks and whilst all other flights are grounded, private jets fly wealthy Saudi Arabians, including members of the bin Laden family out of the US. None of them are questioned. [13] [15]

November - Tony Blair hails Saudi Arabia as "a good friend in the international coalition against terrorism." Still no mention of human rights. [11]

December - King Fahd calls for the eradication of terrorism, saying it is prohibited by Islam; government takes the unprecedented step of issuing identity cards to women. [1]

2002:

February - A British man arrested in Riyadh after the March 2001 bombings claims the Saudi authorities tortured him and forced a confession. The man, Ron Jones, had been released after being allowed to retract his confession. [1]

May - New criminal justice system comes into force. Revised criminal code includes ban on torture and right of suspects to legal representation, but human rights campaigners allege that violations continue. [1]

August - Saudi investors reported to have withdrawn funds from the US in protest at a lawsuit filed by relatives of some September 11 victims alleging Saudi collusion with terror; Saudis allege defamation. [1]

October - Border crossing with Iraq reopens for the first time since Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. [1]

November - Saudi foreign minister says his country will not allow the US to use its facilities to attack Iraq, even in a UN-sanctioned strike. [1]

2003:

April - US says it will pull out almost all its troops from Saudi Arabia, ending a military presence dating back to the 1991 Gulf war. Both countries stress that they will remain allies. [1]

May - Suicide bombers kill 35 people at housing compounds for Westerners in Riyadh hours before US Secretary of State Colin Powell flies in for planned visit. [1]

One of the compounds bombed is that of the Vinnell Corporation, which provides retired US military officers "to train the elite armed forces that protect the royal family." [12]

September - More than 300 Saudi intellectuals - women as well as men - sign petition calling for far-reaching political reforms. [1]

October - Government says elections for 14 municipal councils will be held within a year - the first elections of any kind since the founding of the kingdom. [1]

Police break up unprecedented rally in centre of Riyadh calling for political reform. More than 270 people are arrested. [1]

November - Suicide attack by suspected al-Qaeda militants on residential compound in Riyadh leaves 17 dead and scores injured. [1]

King grants wider powers to Consultative Council (majlis al-shura), enabling it to propose legislation without his permission. [1]

2004:

January - Kingdom says it is prepared to negotiate substantial reduction of Iraq's debt. [1]

February - Stampede at Hajj pilgrimage leaves 251 dead. [1]

April - Four police officers and a security officer killed in attacks near Riyadh. Car bomb at security forces' HQ in Riyadh kills four, wounds 148. Group linked to al-Qaeda claims responsibility. [1]

May - Attack at petrochemical site in Yanbu kills five foreigners. Attack and hostage-taking at oil company compound in Khobar; 22 people are killed. [1]

Files are seized by British Ministry of Defence police alleging corruption on a massive scale by Britain's biggest arms firm, BAE Systems. Payments totalling more than 60m to prominent Saudis are listed, a far greater amount than has been previously alleged.

BAE is currently trying to secure another 1.5bn of arms deals from the Saudi regime, following the sale of planes, missiles and warships worth 50bn to them over the past 15 years. [17]

June - Three gun attacks in Riyadh within a week leave two Americans and a BBC cameraman dead. The same week, a US engineer is abducted and beheaded, his filmed death causing revulsion in America. [1]

Security forces kill local al-Qaeda leader Abdul Aziz al-Muqrin shortly afterwards, but an amnesty for militants which follows has only limited effect despite a fall in militant activity. [1]

December - Attack on US consulate in Jeddah; five staff and four attackers are killed. [1]

2005:

February-April - First-ever nationwide municipal elections. Women do not take part in the poll. [1]

August - Saudi royal court announces death of King Fahd. He is succeeded by the former crown prince, Abdullah. [1]

November - World Trade Organization gives the green light to Saudi Arabia's membership following 12 years of talks. [1]

2006:

June - Six men allegedly linked to al-Qaeda are killed in a shootout with police in Riyadh, the latest of several incidents involving Islamist militants. [1]

November - Saudi Arabia threatens to suspend diplomatic ties with Britain unless Downing Street intervenes to block an investigation into a 60m "slush fund" allegedly set up for some members of its royal family, to ensure the Saudis continued to buy from BAE under the so-called Al-Yamamah deal, rather than going to another country. Al-Yamamah is the biggest defence contract in British history and has kept BAE in business for 20 years. [18]