The desert is ruled as a fiefdom where there is a Baron who rules over the land and the people of the land. The natives of the land are treated as dirty, filthy, uncouth creatures who have weird traditions and silly beliefs. The Baron has his men mine the commodity for sale to the rest of the world.
There's an all-powerful king who is the leader of the world. He controls all the supply of this commodity. He controls the Baron and the appointment, change of guard and exit of who rules this land.
The king derives his power from his powerful army/weapons. The army is made strong and ruthless by having them serve in extremely hostile and inhuman conditions in terrible parts of the world. The king believes that although many will die while on those assignments - those who survive will be thoroughly ruthless and amongst the strongest.
A mafia controls the trading of the commodity. This mafia and its men are even more powerful than the king, because they know they can choke the supply of the commodity and thereby choke the king's hold over the rest of the world.
A Duke of this region has become powerful and has started having an army which is becoming as strong and may become even stronger than the king's army. The king plots to assassinate this Duke.
The local urban population of the desert areas suffer under the rule of the king's Duke but do not rise up in rebellion because they are busy trying to live their lives and hoping to rise up above their economic levels to match the foreigners.
I don't know if the above sounds like a story of the current world scenario... but it is my introduction to a wonderful story of a book called "Dune" written by Frank Herbert in 1965. Wonderful book, sci-fi mixed with politics and religion - a great read!