[Part of Constituting America’s 90 Day Study - Days that Shaped America]
The House of Saud was just another minor tribe, until the two Muhammads realized the power of merging Sunni fanaticism with armed warriors. Wahhab’s daughter married Saud’s son, merging their two blood lines to this day. The House of Saud and its warriors rapidly expanded throughout the Arabia Peninsul fueled by Wahhabi fanaticism. These various conflicts always included destruction of holy sites of rival sects and tribes. While done in the name of “purification”, the result was erasing the physical touchstones of rival cultures and governments.
In the early 20th Century, Saudi leader, ibn Saud, expertly exploited the decline of the Ottoman Empire, and alliances with European Powers, to consolidate his permanent hold over the Arabian Peninsula. Control of Mecca and Medina, Islam’s two holiest sites, gave the House of Saud the power to promote Wahhabism as the dominant interpretation of Sunni Islam. This included internally contradictory components of calling for eradicating infidels while growing rich from Christian consumption of oil and pursuing lavish hedonism when not in public view.