1979 Grand Mosque seizure

The Grand Mosque seizure[7] occurred during November and December 1979 when armed civilians calling for the overthrow of the House of Saud took over Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The insurgents declared that the Mahdi (the "redeemer of Islam") had arrived in the form of one of their leaders – Mohammed Abdullah al-Qahtani – and called on Muslims to obey him. For nearly two weeks Saudi Special Forces, assisted by Pakistani and French commandos,[8] fought battles to reclaim the compound.[9]

The seizure of Islam's holiest site, the taking of hostages from among the worshippers and the deaths of hundreds of militants, security forces and hostages caught in the crossfire in the ensuing battles for control of the site, shocked the Islamic world. The siege ended two weeks after the takeover began and the mosque was cleared.[10] Al-Qahtani was killed in the recapture of the mosque but Juhayman and 67 of his fellow rebels who survived the assault were captured and later beheaded.[11][12][13]

Following the attack, the Saudi King Khaled implemented a stricter enforcement of Shariah (Islamic law),[14] he gave the ulama and religious conservatives more power over the next decade, and religious police became more assertive.[15]

Grand Mosque seizure
Saudi soldiers, Mecca, 1979

Saudi soldiers fighting their way into the Ka'aba underground beneath the Grand Mosque of Mecca, 1979
Date20 November – 4 December 1979

Decisive Saudi Arabian victory


Saudi Arabia



Commanders and leaders
  • Pakistan
    50 Pakistani SSG commandos
  • Saudi Arabia
    c. 10,000 Saudi National Guard members
  • France At least 3 French GIGN commandos[2]
300–600 militants[4]
Casualties and losses
  • 127 killed[5]
  • 451 wounded
  • 117 killed[6]
  • Unknown number wounded
  • 68 executed


The seizure was led by Juhayman al-Otaybi, a member of an influential family in Najd. He declared his brother-in-law Mohammed Abdullah al-Qahtani to be the Mahdi, or redeemer, who arrives on earth several years before Judgement Day. His followers embellished the fact that Al-Qahtani's name and his father's name are identical to Prophet Mohammed's name and that of his father, and developed a saying, "His and his father's names were the same as Mohammed's and his father's, and he had come to Makkah from the north", to justify their belief. The date of the attack, 20 November 1979, was the first day of the year 1400 according to the Islamic calendar; this ties in with the tradition of the mujaddid, a person who appears at the turn of every century of the Islamic calendar to revive Islam, cleansing it of extraneous elements and restoring it to its pristine purity.[16]

Al-Otaybi was from one of the foremost families of Najd. His grandfather had ridden with Ibn Saud in the early decades of the century and other of his family members were among foremost of the Ikhwan.[11] He was a preacher, a former corporal in the Saudi National Guard and a former student of Sheikh Abdel Aziz al-Baaz who went on to become the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia.


Al-Otaybi had turned against Bin-Baaz and began advocating a return to the original ways of Islam, among other things: a repudiation of the West; abolition of television and expulsion of non-Muslims".[17] He proclaimed that "the ruling Al-Saud dynasty had lost its legitimacy because it was corrupt, ostentatious and had destroyed Saudi culture by an aggressive policy of Westernization".[11]

Al-Otaybi and Qahtani had met while imprisoned together for sedition, when al-Otaybi claimed to have had a vision sent by God telling him that Qahtani was the Mahdi. Their declared goal was to institute a theocracy in preparation for the imminent apocalypse. They differed from the original Ikhwan and other earlier Wahhabi purists in that "they were millenarians, they rejected the monarchy and condemned the Wahhabi ulama".[18]

Relations with ulama

Many of their followers were drawn from theology students at the Islamic University in Medina. Al-Otaybi joined the local chapter of the Salafi group Al-Jamaa Al-Salafiya Al-Muhtasiba (The Salafi Group That Commands Right and Forbids Wrong) in Medina headed by renowned Sheikh Abd al-Aziz ibn Baz, chairman of the Permanent Committee for Islamic Research and Issuing Fatwas at the time.[19] The followers preached their radical message in different mosques in Saudi Arabia without being arrested.[20] The government was reluctant to confront religious extremists. When Al-Otaybi, al-Qahtani and a number of the Ikhwan were locked up as troublemakers by the Ministry of Interior security police (Mabahith) in 1978,[21] members of the ulama (including bin Baz) cross-examined them for heresy but they were subsequently released as being traditionalists harkening back to the Ikhwan, like al-Otaybi's grandfather and, therefore, not a threat.[22]

Even after the seizure of the Grand Mosque, a certain level of forbearance by ulama for the rebels remained. When the government asked for a fatwa allowing armed force in the Grand Mosque, the language of bin Baz and other senior ulama "was curiously restrained". The scholars did not declare al-Otaibi and his followers non-Muslims, despite their violation of the sanctity of the Grand Mosque, but only termed them "al-jamaah al-musallahah" (the armed group). The senior scholars also insisted that before security forces attack them, the authorities must offer them the option to surrender.[23]


Because of donations from wealthy followers, the group was well-armed and trained. Some members, like al-Otaybi, were former military officials of the National Guard.[24] Some National Guard troops sympathetic to the insurgents smuggled weapons, ammunition, gas masks and provisions into the mosque compound over a period of weeks before the new year.[25] Automatic weapons were smuggled from National Guard armories and the supplies were hidden in the hundreds of tiny underground rooms under the mosque that were used as hermitages.[26]


In the early morning of 20 November 1979, the imam of the Grand Mosque, Sheikh Mohammed al-Subayil, was preparing to lead prayers for the 50,000 worshippers who had gathered for prayer. At around 5:00 am he was interrupted by insurgents who produced weapons from under their robes, chained the gates shut and killed two policemen who were armed with only wooden clubs for disciplining unruly pilgrims.[27] The number of insurgents has been given as "at least 500"[11] or "four to five hundred", and included several women and children who had joined al-Otaybi's movement.[26]

At the time the Grand Mosque was being renovated by the Saudi Binladin Group.[28] An employee of the organization was able to report the seizure to the outside world before the insurgents cut the telephone lines.

The insurgents released most of the hostages and locked the remainder in the sanctuary. They took defensive positions in the upper levels of the mosque, and sniper positions in the minarets, from which they commanded the grounds. No one outside the mosque knew how many hostages remained, how many militants were in the mosque and what sort of preparations they had made.

At the time of the event, Crown Prince Fahd was in Tunisia for a meeting of the Arab Summit. The commander of the National Guard, Prince Abdullah, was also abroad for an official visit to Morocco. Therefore, King Khalid assigned the responsibility to the Sudairi Brothers - Prince Sultan, then Minister of Defence, and Prince Nayef, then Minister of Interior, to deal with the incident.[29]


Smoke rising from the Grand Mosque, Mecca, 1979
Smoke rising from the Grand Mosque during the assault on the Marwa-Safa gallery, 1979.

Soon after the rebel seizure, about 100 security officers of the Ministry of Interior attempted to retake the mosque, but were turned back with heavy casualties. The survivors were quickly joined by units of the Saudi Arabian Army and Saudi Arabian National Guard. At the request of the Saudi monarchy, the Pakistani military's special forces and French Groupe d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale (GIGN) units, operatives and commandos were rushed to assist Saudi forces in Mecca to lead the operation to recapture the Grand Mosque.[30][31][32]

By evening the entire city of Mecca had been evacuated. Prince Sultan appointed Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, head of the Al Mukhabaraat Al 'Aammah (Saudi Intelligence), to take over the forward command post several hundred meters from the mosque, where Prince Turki would remain for the next several weeks. However, the first order of business was to seek the approval of the ulema, which was led by Abdul Aziz bin Baz. Islam forbids any violence within the Grand Mosque, to the extent that plants cannot be uprooted without explicit religious sanction. Ibn Baz found himself in a delicate situation, especially as he had previously taught al-Otaybi in Medina. Regardless, the ulema issued a fatwa allowing deadly force to be used in retaking the mosque.[33]

With religious approval granted, Saudi forces launched frontal assaults on three of the main gates. Again the assaulting force was repulsed as they were unable to break through the insurgents' defenses. Snipers continued to pick off soldiers who revealed themselves. The insurgents aired their demands from the mosque's loudspeakers throughout the streets of Mecca, calling for the cut-off of oil exports to the United States and the expulsion of all foreign civilian and military experts from the Arabian Peninsula.[34] In Beirut an opposition organization (the Arab Socialist Action Party – Arabian Peninsula) issued a statement on 25 November, alleging to clarify the demands of the insurgents. The party, however, denied any involvement in the seizure of the Grand Mosque.[35]

Officially, the Saudi government took the position that it would not aggressively retake the mosque, but rather starve out the militants. Nevertheless, several unsuccessful assaults were undertaken, at least one of them through the underground tunnels in and around the mosque.[36]

According to Lawrence Wright in the book The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11,

A team of three French commandos from the Groupe d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale (GIGN) arrived in Mecca. Because of the prohibition against non-Muslims entering the holy city, they converted to Islam in a brief, formal ceremony. The commandos pumped gas into the underground chambers, but perhaps because the rooms were so bafflingly interconnected, the gas failed and the resistance continued. With casualties climbing, Saudi forces drilled holes into the courtyard and dropped grenades into the rooms below, indiscriminately killing many hostages but driving the remaining rebels into more open areas where they could be picked off by sharpshooters. More than two weeks after the assault began, the surviving rebels finally surrendered.[37][38]

However, this account is contradicted by at least two other accounts,[39] including that of then GIGN commanding officer Christian Prouteau:[1] the three GIGN commandos trained and equipped the Saudi forces and devised their attack plan (which consisted of drilling holes in the floor of the Mosque and firing gas canisters wired with explosives through the perforations), but did not take part in the action and did not set foot in the Mosque. He claims that Pakistani SSG commandos carried out the operation instead.

The Saudi National Guard and the Saudi Army suffered heavy casualties. Tear gas was used to force out the remaining militants.[40] According to a US embassy cable of 1 December, several of the militant leaders escaped the siege[41] and days later sporadic fighting erupted in other parts of the city.

The battle had lasted for more than two weeks, and had officially left "255 pilgrims, troops and fanatics" killed and "another 560 injured ... although diplomats suggested the toll was higher."[42] Military casualties were 127 dead and 451 injured.[5]


Prisoners, trials and executions

Officers Juhayman al-Otaibi-1
Surviving insurgents in custody of Saudi authorities (c. 1979).
Grand Mosque Seizure insurgents,1979
Surviving insurgents in custody of Saudi authorities (c. 1979).

Shortly after news of the takeover was released, the new Islamic revolutionary leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, told radio listeners, "It is not beyond guessing that this is the work of criminal American imperialism and international Zionism."[43][44] Anger fuelled by these rumours spread anti-American demonstrations throughout the Muslim world—in the Philippines, Turkey, Bangladesh, eastern Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan.[45] In Islamabad, Pakistan, on the day following the takeover, the U.S. embassy in that city was overrun by a mob, which burned the embassy to the ground. A week later, in Tripoli, Libya, another mob attacked and burned the U.S. embassy.[46] [47]

Al-Qahtani was killed in the recapture of the mosque but Juhayman and 67 of his fellow rebels who survived the assault were captured and later beheaded.[11][12] They were not shown leniency.[13] The king secured a fatwa (edict) from the Council of Senior Scholars[11][12] which found the defendants guilty of seven crimes:

  • violating the Masjid al-Haram's (the Grand Mosque's) sanctity;
  • violating the sanctity of the month of Muharram;
  • killing fellow Muslims and others;
  • disobeying legitimate authorities;
  • suspending prayer at Masjid al-Haram;
  • erring in identifying the Mahdi;
  • exploiting the innocent for criminal acts.[48][49]

On 9 January 1980, 63 rebels were publicly beheaded in the squares of eight Saudi cities[12] (Buraidah, Dammam, Mecca, Medina, Riyadh, Abha, Ha'il and Tabuk). According to Sandra Mackey, the locations "were carefully chosen not only to give maximum exposure but, one suspects, to reach other potential nests of discontent."[13]


Saudi King Khaled, however, did not react to the upheaval by cracking down on religious puritans in general, but by giving the ulama and religious conservatives more power over the next decade. He is thought to have believed that "the solution to the religious upheaval was simple: more religion."[15] First, photographs of women in newspapers were banned, then women on television. Cinemas and music shops were shut down. School curriculum was changed to provide many more hours of religious studies, eliminating classes on subjects like non-Islamic history. Gender segregation was extended "to the humblest coffee shop,” and religious police became more assertive.

However, the Saudi government has made incremental reforms toward a more tolerant society decades after the uprisings. Thirty years after the revolts in Mecca, by 2009, the power of the religious police had been reduced,[50] in 2017 the Saudi government announced that women will no longer be prohibited from driving because of their gender,[51] and in December 2017, the licensing of cinemas was announced to be resumed again in 2018, ending nearly a 35-year ban.[52]

See also


  1. ^ a b see also Prouteau, Christian (1998). Mémoires d'Etat. Michel Lafon. p. 265 through 277 and 280.
  2. ^ a b Da Lage, Olivier (2006). Géopolitique de l'Arabie Saoudite (in French). Complexe. p. 34. ISBN 2804801217.
  3. ^ Lacey 2009, p. 13.
  4. ^ "THE SIEGE AT MECCA". 2006. Archived from the original on 6 July 2016. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Pierre Tristam, "1979 Seizure of the Grand Mosque in Mecca", About.com". Retrieved 1 November 2011.
  6. ^ Riyadh (10 January 1980). "63 Zealots beheaded for seizing Mosque". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 12 November 2010.
  7. ^ "1979: Remembering 'The Siege Of Mecca' : NPR".
  8. ^ "How Did the Seizure of the Mosque and Mecca Influence al-Qaeda?". Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  9. ^ Miller, Flagg (2015). The Audacious Ascetic: What the Bin Laden Tapes Reveal About Al-Qa'ida. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780190613396. Not since the tenth century had such a maverick crew occupied Islam's holiest sanctuary, and for nearly two weeks Saudi Special Forces assisted by Pakistani and French commandos fought pitched battles to reclaim the compound.
  10. ^ Benjamin, The Age of Sacred Terror (2002) p. 90
  11. ^ a b c d e f 1979 Makkah - Grand Mosque aka Holy Mosque, Global Security
  12. ^ a b c d "Saudis behead zealots". The Victoria Advocate. AP. 10 January 1980. Retrieved 7 August 2012.
  13. ^ a b c Mackey, Sandra. The Saudis: Inside the Desert Kingdom. Updated Edition. Norton Paperback. W.W. Norton and Company, New York. 2002 (first edition: 1987). ISBN 0-393-32417-6 pbk., p. 234.
  14. ^ [1] Wright, Sacred Rage, (2001), p. 155
  15. ^ a b Lacey, Robert (2009). Inside the Kingdom : Kings, Clerics, Modernists, Terrorists, and the Struggle for Saudi Arabia. Viking. p. 48. `Those old men actually believed that the Mosque disaster was God's punishment to us because we were publishing women's photographs in the newspapers, says a princess, one of Khaled's nieces. The worrying thing is that the king [Khaled] probably believed that as well . . Khaled had come to agree with the sheikhs. Foreign influences and bida'a were the problem. The solution to the religious upheaval was simple--more religion.
  16. ^ Benjamin, The Age of Sacred Terror, (2002) p. 90
  17. ^ Wright, Sacred Rage, (2001), p. 152
  18. ^ Commins, David (2009). The Wahhabi Mission and Saudi Arabia. I. B. Tauris. p. 63. It is important to emphasize, however, that the 1979 rebels were not literally a reincarnation of the Ikhwan and to underscore three distinct features of the former: They were millenarians, they rejected the monarchy and they condemned the wahhabi ulama.
  19. ^ Lacey, Robert (15 October 2009). Inside the Kingdom: Kings, Clerics, Modernists, Terrorists, and the Struggle for Saudi Arabia. Penguin Group US. p. 9. ISBN 9781101140734.
  20. ^ Wright, Looming Tower, (2006), p.88–9
  21. ^ Lacey, Robert (2009). Inside the Kingdom: Kings, Clerics, Modernists, Terrorists, and the Struggle for Saudi Arabia. Viking. p. 31.
  22. ^ Wright, Looming Tower, (2006), p. 103 – softcover
  23. ^ Lacey, Robert (2009). Inside the Kingdom: Kings, Clerics, Modernists, Terrorists, and the Struggle for Saudi Arabia. Viking. p. 30. Their language was curiously restrained. The sheikhs had a rich vocabulary of condemnation that they regularly deployed against those who incurred their wrath, from kuffar ... to al-faseqoon (those who are immoral and who do not follow God). But the worst they could conjure up for Juhaymand and his followers was al-jamaah al-musallahah (the armed group). They also insisted that the young men must be given another chance to repent. ... Before attacking them, said the ulema, the authorities must offer the option to surrender and lay down their arms.
  24. ^ Wright, Looming Tower, (2006), p. 102 – softcover
  25. ^ Benjamin, The Age of Sacred Terror, (2002), p. 90
  26. ^ a b Wright, Looming Tower, (2006), p. 104 – softcover
  27. ^ Wright, Looming Tower, (2006), p. 101 – softcover
  28. ^ 1979 Seizure of the Grand Mosque in Mecca: The Attack and the Siege That Inspired Osama bin Laden. Retrieved January 15, 2014.
  29. ^ Astal, Kamal M. (2002). "Three case studies: Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iraq" (PDF). Pakistan Journal of Applied Sciences. 2 (3): 308–319. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
  30. ^ Miller, Flagg (2015). The Audacious Ascetic: What the Bin Laden Tapes Reveal About Al-Qa'ida. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780190613396.
  31. ^ Valentine, Simon Ross (2015). Force and Fanaticism: Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia and Beyond. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9781849046169.
  32. ^ Irfan Husain (2012). Fatal Faultlines : Pakistan, Islam and the West. Rockville, Maryland: Arc Manor Publishers. p. 129. ISBN 978-1-60450-478-1. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
  33. ^ Wright, Looming Tower, (2006), pp. 103–104 – softcover
  34. ^ Wright, Looming Tower, (2006), p.92
  35. ^ Saudi Opposition Group Lists Insurgents' Demands in MERIP Reports, No. 85. (February 1980), pp. 16–17.
  36. ^ "US embassy cable of 22 November" (PDF). Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  37. ^ Tristam, Pierre. "1979 Seizure of the Grand Mosque in Mecca The Attack and the Siege That Inspired Osama bin Laden". about.com. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
  38. ^ see also: Wright, Robin B., 1948| Sacred Rage: The Wrath of Militant Islam| Simon & Schuster| c 2001, p. 148
  39. ^ see also Trofimov, Yaroslav (2007). The Siege of Mecca: The 1979 Uprising at Islam's Holiest Shrine. Random House.
  40. ^ " US embassy cable of 27 November" (PDF). Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  41. ^ " US embassy cable of 1 December." (PDF). Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  42. ^ Wright, Robin B., 1948| Sacred Rage: The Wrath of Militant Islam| Simon & Schuster| c 2001, p. 148
  43. ^ On This Day, 21 November, BBC
  44. ^ "Khomeini Accuses U.S. and Israel of Attempt to Take Over Mosques", by John Kifner, New York Times, 25 November 1979
  45. ^ Wright, Robin B., 1948. Sacred Rage: The Wrath of Militant Islam. Simon & Schuster, c 2001, p. 149
  46. ^ [On 2 December 1979.] EMBASSY OF THE U.S. IN LIBYA IS STORMED BY A CROWD OF 2,000; Fires Damage the Building but All Americans Escape – Attack Draws a Strong Protest Relations Have Been Cool Escaped without Harm 2,000 Libyan Demonstrators Storm the U.S. Embassy Stringent Security Measures Official Involvement Uncertain, New York Times, 3 December 1979
  47. ^ ""Active Measures": Forgery, Disinformation, Political Operations" (PDF). Inside the Cold War.org. United States Department of State Bureau of Public Affairs. October 1981.
  48. ^ Commins, David (2009). The Wahhabi Mission and Saudi Arabia. I.B.Tauris. p. 168.
  49. ^ Salame, Ghassan (1987). "Islam and politics in Saudi Arabia". Arab Studies Quarterly. ix (3): 321.
  50. ^ Lacey, Robert (2009). Inside the Kingdom : Kings, Clerics, Modernists, Terrorists, and the Struggle for Saudi Arabia. Viking. pp. 49–52.
  51. ^ "'Saudi women driving edition'". Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  52. ^ "Licenses to be issued for those who wish to open cinema houses in Saudi Arabia". 11 December 2017. Retrieved 11 December 2017.

Further reading

  • Aburish, Said K., The Rise, Corruption, and Coming Fall of the House of Saud, St. Martin's (1996)
  • Benjamin, Daniel, The Age of Sacred Terror by Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, New York : Random House, (c2002)
  • Fair, C. Christine and Sumit Ganguly, "Treading on Hallowed Ground: Counterinsurgency Operations in Sacred Spaces", Oxford University Press (2008)
  • Hassner, Ron E., "War on Sacred Grounds", Cornell University Press (2009) ISBN 978-0-8014-4806-5
  • Kechichian, Joseph A., "The Role of the Ulama in the Politics of an Islamic State: The Case of Saudi Arabia", International Journal of Middle East Studies, 18 (1986), 53–71.
  • Trofimov, Yaroslav, The Siege of Mecca: The Forgotten Uprising in Islam's Holiest Shrine and the Birth of Al Qaeda, Doubleday (2007) ISBN 0-385-51925-7 (Also softcover – Anchor, ISBN 0-307-27773-9)
  • Wright, Robin B., Sacred Rage : The Wrath of Militant Islam, Simon & Schuster (2001)
  • Wright, Lawrence, The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, New York : Knopf (2006) ISBN 978-0-375-41486-2 (Also softcover – New York : Vintage, ISBN 978-1-4000-3084-2)

Coordinates: 21°25′19″N 39°49′33″E / 21.42194°N 39.82583°E

ASEAN Declaration

The ASEAN Declaration or Bangkok Declaration is the founding document of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). It was signed in Bangkok on 8 August 1967 by the five ASEAN founding members, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand as a display of solidarity against communist expansion in Vietnam and communist insurgency within their own borders. It states the basic principles of ASEAN: co-operation, amity, and non-interference. The date is now celebrated as ASEAN Day.

Anti anti-communism

The phrase anti anti-communism has been noted by Clifford Geertz, an American anthropologist at the Institute for Advanced Study as a term applied, in "the cold war days" by "those who … regarded the [Red] Menace as the primary fact of contemporary political life" to "[t]hose of us who strenuously opposed [that] obsession, as we saw it … with the insinuation – wildly incorrect in the vast majority of cases – that, by the law of the double negative, we had some secret affection for the Soviet Union."Stated more simply by Kristen R. Ghodsee and Scott Sehon: "In 1984, the anthropologist Clifford Geertz wrote that you could be ‘anti anti-communism’ without being in favour of communism."Jonathan Chait, in a critique of Stephen F. Cohen used a fully hyphenated form of the term, calling Cohen: "… an old-school leftist who has carried on the mental habits of decades of anti-anti-communism seamlessly into a new career of anti-anti-Putinism."

Arms race

An arms race occurs when two or more nations participation in interactive or competitive increases in "persons under arms" as well as "war material". Simply defined as a competition between two or more states to have superior armed forces; a competition concerning production of weapons, the growth of a military, and the aim of superior military technology.

The term is also used to describe any long-term escalating competitive situation where each competitor focuses on out-doing the others.

An evolutionary arms race is a system where two populations are evolving in order to continuously one-up members of the other population. This concept is related to the Red Queen's Hypothesis, where two organisms co-evolve to overcome each other but each fails to progress relative to the other interactant.

In technology, there are close analogues to the arms races between parasites and hosts, such as the arms race between computer virus writers and antivirus software writers, or spammers against Internet service providers and E-mail software writers.

More generically, the term is used to describe any competition where there is no absolute goal, only the relative goal of staying ahead of the other competitors in rank or knowledge. An arms race may also imply futility as the competitors spend a great deal of time and money, yet end up in the same situation as if they had never started the arms race.

Asian Relations Conference

The Asian Relations Conference took place in New Delhi in March-April 1947. It was hosted by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who then headed a provisional government that was preparing for India's Independence, which came on 15 August 1947. The Asian Relations Conference brought together many leaders of the independence movements in Asia, and represented a first attempt to assert Asian unity. The objectives of the conference were "to bring together the leading men and women of Asia on a common platform to study the problems of common concern to the people of the continent, to focus attention on social, economic and cultural problems of the different countries of Asia, and to foster mutual contact and understanding."

In his writings and speeches, Nehru had laid great emphasis on the manner in which post-colonial India would rebuild its Asia connections. At this conference Nehru declared: "... Asia is again finding herself ... one of the notable consequences of the European domination of Asia has been the isolation of the countries of Asia from one another. ... Today this isolation is breaking down because of many reasons, political and otherwise ... This Conference is significant as an expression of that deeper urge of the mind and spirit of Asia which has persisted ... In this Conference and in this work there are no leaders and no followers. All countries of Asia have to meet together in a common task ..."

Eisenhower Doctrine

The Eisenhower Doctrine was a policy enunciated by Dwight D. Eisenhower on January 5, 1957, within a "Special Message to the Congress on the Situation in the Middle East". Under the Eisenhower Doctrine, a Middle Eastern country could request American economic assistance or aid from U.S. military forces if it was being threatened by armed aggression. Eisenhower singled out the Soviet threat in his doctrine by authorizing the commitment of U.S. forces "to secure and protect the territorial integrity and political independence of such nations, requesting such aid against overt armed aggression from any nation controlled by international communism". The phrase "international communism" made the doctrine much broader than simply responding to Soviet military action. A danger that could be linked to communists of any nation could conceivably invoke the doctrine.

Exercise Verity

Exercise Verity was the only major training exercise of the Western Union (WU). Undertaken in July 1949, it involved 60 warships from the British, French, Belgian and Dutch navies. A contemporary newsreel described this exercise as involving "the greatest assembly of warships since the Battle of Jutland."

Frozen conflict

In international relations, a frozen conflict is a situation in which active armed conflict has been brought to an end, but no peace treaty or other political framework resolves the conflict to the satisfaction of the combatants. Therefore, legally the conflict can start again at any moment, creating an environment of insecurity and instability.

The term has been commonly used for post-Soviet conflicts, but it has also often been applied to other perennial territorial disputes. The de facto situation that emerges may match the de jure position asserted by one party to the conflict; for example, Russia claims and effectively controls Crimea following the 2014 Crimean crisis despite Ukraine's continuing claim to the region. Alternatively, the de facto situation may not match either side's official claim. The division of Korea is an example of the latter situation: both the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea officially assert claims to the entire peninsula; however, there exists a well-defined border between the two countries' areas of control.

Frozen conflicts sometimes result in partially recognized states. For example, the Republic of South Ossetia, a product of the frozen Georgian–Ossetian conflict, is recognized by eight other states, including five UN members; the other three of these entities are partially recognized states themselves.


In the Russian language the word Glasnost (; Russian: гла́сность, IPA: [ˈɡɫasnəsʲtʲ] (listen)) has several general and specific meanings. It has been used in Russian to mean "openness and transparency" since at least the end of the eighteenth century.In the Russian Empire of the late-19th century, the term was particularly associated with reforms of the judicial system, ensuring that the press and the public could attend court hearings and that the sentence was read out in public. In the mid-1980s, it was popularised by Mikhail Gorbachev as a political slogan for increased government transparency in the Soviet Union.

Guerrilla Army of the Poor

The Guerrilla Army Of The Poor (EGP – Ejército Guerrillero de los Pobres) was a Guatemalan leftist guerrilla movement, which commanded a lot of support among the indigenous Mayan people during the Guatemalan Civil War.

Guerrilla war in the Baltic states

The Guerrilla war in the Baltic states or the Forest Brothers resistance movement was the armed struggle against Soviet rule that spanned from 1940 to the mid-1950s. After the occupation of the Baltic territories by the Soviets in 1944, an insurgency started. According to some estimates, 10,000 partisans in Estonia, 10,000 partisans in Latvia and 30,000 partisans in Lithuania and many more supporters were involved. This war continued as an organised struggle until 1956 when the superiority of the Soviet military caused the native population to adopt other forms of resistance. While estimates related to the extent of partisan movement vary, but there seems to be a consensus among researchers that by international standards, the Baltic guerrilla movements were extensive. Proportionally, the partisan movement in the post-war Baltic states was of a similar size as the Viet Cong movement in South Vietnam.


The Ikhwan (Arabic: الإخوان‎‎, The Brethren), also Akhwan, was the first Saudi army made up of traditionally nomadic tribesmen which formed a significant military force of the ruler Ibn Saud and played an important role in establishing him as ruler of most of the Arabian Peninsula in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Ikhwan later became the Saudi Arabian National Guard.The Ikhwan first appeared around 1902. They were the product of clergy who aimed to break up the Bedouin tribes and settle them around the wells and oases of the sedentary Arab populations, mainly those of the Najd, on the grounds that nomadic life was incompatible with the strict conformity of their interpretation of Islam. The newly Islamicized Bedouin would be converted from nomad raiders to soldiers for Islam. The cleric/teachers of the Ikhwan were dedicated to their idea of the purification and the unification of Islam, and some of the newly converted Ikhwan rebelled against their emir Ibn Saud, accusing him of religious laxity. After the conquest of the Hejaz in 1924 brought all of the current Saudi state under Ibn Saud's control, the monarch found himself in conflict with elements of the Ikhwan. He crushed their power at the Battle of Sabilla in 1929, following which the militia was reorganised into the Saudi Arabian National Guard.

Jamaican political conflict

The Jamaican political conflict is a long standing feud between right-wing and left-wing elements in the country, often exploding into violence. The Jamaican Labor Party and the People's National Party have fought for control of the island for years and the rivalry has encouraged urban warfare in Kingston. Each side believes the other to be controlled by foreign elements, the JLP is said to be backed by the American Central Intelligence Agency and the PNP is said to been backed by the Soviet Union and Fidel Castro.

Johnson Doctrine

The Johnson Doctrine, enunciated by U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson after the United States' intervention in the Dominican Republic in 1965, declared that domestic revolution in the Western Hemisphere would no longer be a local matter when "the object is the establishment of a Communist dictatorship". It is an extension of the Eisenhower and Kennedy Doctrines.

Le Cercle

Le Cercle is a foreign policy think-tank specialising in international security. Set up after World War II, the group has members from twenty-five countries and meets at least bi-annually, in Washington, D.C., United States.

Mark Gregory Hambley

Mark Gregory Hambley (born February 12, 1948 in Boise, Idaho) is an American diplomat. During 32 years in the U.S. diplomatic service, Hon. Mark G Hambley served in fourteen different postings, many of them in Middle Eastern countries, including as U.S. Ambassador in Qatar and, later, in Lebanon and as the U.S. Consul General in Alexandria, Egypt, and in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Hambley was also posted in Saudi Arabia during the November 1979 Grand Mosque seizure. Other assignments took him to Vietnam, Yemen, Jordan, Tunisia and Libya during periods of war, coups, and civil unrest.

Hambley's five year service in multilateral diplomacy included his designation as the Special Representative to the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, as the U.S. Representative to the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests, and as the Special Negotiator on climate change during the Kyoto process and early months of the Bush administration.

Following the September 11 attacks in 2001, Hambley served as political advisor to the commander of the U.S. Air Force deployment in the Middle East during the conflict against al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. He was then appointed as director of a newly-established Media Outreach Center in London in March 2003. This is a specialized unit created under the authority of the U.S. Congress in early that year. The goal of this center is to improve dialog with the pan-Arab media and to monitor the programming and coverage of various pan-Arab newspapers and satellite television networks.

Hambley left full-time government service in 2005. He still undertakes special commissions on an ad hoc basis, especially in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia. He is a founding partner of SoCoSIX Strategies LLC, a specialized risk management company. He serves on the executive committee of the Washington-based Middle East Policy Council which is well known for its Middle East Journal and its quarterly Capitol Hill conferences on Middle Eastern issues of importance to the United States.As a trustee of the Next Century Foundation, he has undertaken private missions to war-torn Baghdad to facilitate negotiations with the late Abdul Aziz al Hakim and to Jerusalem during the 2006 Lebanon War, during which he discussed matters relating to Syrian second track negotiations. He has also been a member of delegations observing regional, provincial and national elections in Iraq since the Iraqi constitutional referendum, 2005 to the present time.

Hambley established and currently serves as Trustee and Treasurer of the Next Century Foundation/USA. In view of the destruction of important archaeological sites and the dangers confronting Yemeni heritage due to the ongoing civil war, Hambley founded The Arabia Felix Foundation (TAFF) in 2017 with the goal of preserving artifacts and images from Yemen especially and to promote the appreciation and preservation of both well into the future.

Hambley speaks and writes on topics related to the Middle East, including on the growing impact of radical Jihadi movements on the region and the United States, the continuing crisis in Yemen and the Arabian Peninsula generally, and the omnipresent danger posed by climate change and the way forward.In 2012, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by Elms College for his continuing work to promote peace and reconciliation among disputing parties in various corners of the world and, especially in the Middle East.Hambley has been a special guest on The English Hour for ANN TV (Arab News Network) and appeared in numerous news items on radio and television stations ranging from the BBC to NPR, Alhurra, Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya and Press TV.

The Siege of Mecca

The Siege of Mecca: The Forgotten Uprising in Islam's Holiest Shrine and the Birth of Al Qaeda is a 2007 book by Wall Street Journal correspondent Yaroslav Trofimov about the 1979 Grand Mosque seizure in Mecca.

Hundreds of Islamic radicals led by Saudi preacher Juhayman al-Otaybi invaded the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Islam's holiest shrine, on Nov. 20, 1979. The intruders included men from all over the Muslim world and a handful of American converts. Tens of thousands of worshipers were trapped inside the compound. The battle for the shrine lasted two weeks, causing hundreds of deaths and ending only after the intervention of Saudi National Guard and Special Forces.

Yaroslav Trofimov's book provides the first detailed account of this siege. The book is based on interviews with surviving participants and eyewitnesses, including former terrorist supporters of Juhayman al-Otaybi, as well as hundreds of declassified U.S., British and French government documents.

Ulbricht Doctrine

The Ulbricht Doctrine, named after East German leader Walter Ulbricht, was the assertion that normal diplomatic relations between East Germany and West Germany could occur only if both states fully recognised each other's sovereignty. That contrasted with the Hallstein Doctrine, a West German policy which insisted that West Germany was the only legitimate German state.

East Germany gained acceptance of its view from fellow Communist states, such as Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, and Bulgaria, which all agreed not to normalise relations with West Germany until it recognised East German sovereignty.

West Germany eventually abandoned its Hallstein Doctrine, instead adopting the policies of Ostpolitik. In December 1972, a Basic Treaty between East and West Germany was signed that reaffirmed two German states as separate entities. The treaty also allowed the exchange of diplomatic missions and the entry of both German states to the United Nations as full members.

Western Bloc

The Western Bloc during the Cold War refers to capitalist countries under the hegemony of the United States and NATO against the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. The latter were referred to as the Eastern Bloc. The governments and press of the Western Bloc were more inclined to refer to themselves as the "Free World" or the "Western world", whereas the Eastern Bloc was often called the "Communist world or Second world".

Part of a series on:
Islamic crescent and star

Allah-green.svg Islam portal

A coloured voting box.svg Politics portal

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.