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With Khomeini's encouragement, Muslims —not all of them Shi'ites—have staged anti-American riots in Libya, India and Bangladesh. In Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, a mob burned the U.S. embassy and killed two U.S. servicemen; the Ayatullah's reaction was "great joy." In Saudi Arabia, possessor of the world's largest oil reserves, the vulnerability of the royal family was made starkly apparent when a band of 200 to 300 well-armed raiders in November seized the Sacred Mosque in Mecca, the holiest of all Islamic shrines, which is under the protection of King Khalid. The raiders appeared to have mixed religious and political motives: they seemingly were armed and trained in Marxist South Yemen, but were fundamentalists opposed to all modernism, led by a zealot who had proclaimed the revolution in Iran to be a "new dawn" for Islam. It took the Saudi army more than a week to root them out from the catacomb-like basements of the mosque, and 156 died in the fighting—82 raiders and 74 Saudi troopers. In addition, demonstrators waving Khomeini's picture last month paraded in the oil towns of Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province. Saudi troops apparently opened fire on the protesters and at least 15 people are said to have died.
Such rumblings have deeply shaken the nerves, if not yet undermined the stability, of governments throughout the Middle East. Leaders of the House of Saud regard Khomeini as an outright menace. Egypt's President Anwar Sadat denounced Khomeini as a man who is trying to play God and whose actions are a "crime against Islam [and] an insult to humanity." Nonetheless, the Ayatullah's appeal to Muslims, Sunni as well as
Shi'ite, is so strong that even pro-Western Islamic leaders have been reluctant to give the U.S. more than minimal support in the hostage crisis. They have explicitly warned Washington that any U.S. military strike on Iran, even one undertaken in retaliation for the killing of the hostages, would so enrage their people as to threaten the security of every government in the area.
The appeal of Khomeini's Islamic fundamentalism to non-Muslim nations in the Third World is limited. Not so the wave of nationalism he unleashed in Iran. Warns William Quandt, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution: "People in the Third World were promised great gains upon independence [from colonialism], and yet they still find their lives and societies in a_ mess." Historically, such unfulfilled expectations prepare the ground for revolution, and the outbreak in Iran offers an example of an uprising that embodies a kind of nose-thumbing national pride.
Selig Harrison, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, says the overthrow of Iran's Shah "is appealing to the Third World as a nationalist revolution that has stood up to superpower influence. At the rational level, Third World people know that you cannot behave like Khomeini and they do not condone violation