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22-Jun-2018 00:39

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 further 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.

However, this year the Islamic Army in Iraq has reemerged as a militant brand, albeit much weaker than before, and is offering the government a choice of giving into its demands or facing a new battle of Baghdad.

At present, relations with the Islamic State are somewhat complex, with denial of coordination on the one hand but also no explicit intention to fight against the Islamic State.

This worldview is the starting point for understanding the contest between the kingdom and the caliphate, two very different versions of Islamic states competing over a shared religious heritage and territory.

“Wahhabism” is historically a pejorative term, so its adherents generally do not identify as such.

The competition between the jihadi statelet and the Gulf monarchy is playing out on two levels, one ideological and one material.

Both are self-professed Islamic polities claiming to represent Wahhabi Islam.