But al-Jouf shows what everyone knows: that tribes will switch their ‘allegiance’ as soon as it is convenient.
Residents say the final straw was the build-up to the invasion of Iraq, when United States troops took control of the airport in the nearby Arar, the kingdom’s official border crossing with Iraq.
This was deeply resented by all Saudis, but especially by al-Jouf’s residents, who have historic tribal links to Iraqis across the border.
Many local officers in the Saudi army resigned at the time in protest against being relieved temporarily of their duties by US soldiers, say Saudi opposition groups.
Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Saudis have since sneaked across the border into Iraq to join the jihad against US-led occupation forces.
Corrupt as the Saudi royal family is, stories like this one make me worry about what might replace it.
Best solution in case of dissolution? Extend Jordan down the Red Sea coast to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, as was promised to the Hashemite family after WWI. The Eastern Province — home to oil and Shi’as, to be united with their Arab Shi’a brethren across the border in southern Iraq. And the Bedouins of the interior can fight one another over what’s left: sand and hate.