Saudi Arabia and the Rise and Fall of Political Islam

Professor Bernard Haykel
Thursday, 15 October 2020

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is frequently accused by the western media, and in scholarly and foreign policy writings, of being responsible for the spread of a radical form of political Islam, commonly labelled Salafism.  This talk will address the history of the Kingdom’s relationship with political Islam and with Salafism. It will illustrate why this widely accepted claim is overly simplistic, and, more important, how it conceals a history of America's involvement and patronage of Islamism during the Cold War. The talk will also trace the rise of political Islam as a phenomenon of the Cold War and explain the reasons for its present decline in the Middle East and elsewhere around the globe.

Professor Bernard Haykel is a scholar of the Arabian Peninsula, focusing on the history, politics and economics of Saudi Arabia, the other Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC), and Yemen. He is Professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University where he is also director of the Institute for the Transregional Study of the Contemporary Middle East and the Program in Near Eastern Studies. Professor Haykel is the author of several books and is presently completing one on modern Saudi political history which will be published by Princeton University Press. He is considered an authority on Islamist political movements and Islamic law and is the author of a number articles on the politics of Saudi Arabia and Yemen, Salafism, al-Qaeda and ISIS.. He earned his D.Phil. in Oriental Studies from the University of Oxford.

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