Has Qatar Surrendered?

By Dr. Mordechai Kedar:

Much has been written in the past year about the part Qatar plays in the conflict over the status and role of the Muslim Brotherhood, the movement that presents a non-tribal Islamist alternative to tribal loyalties and ideological parties in the Arab world.

For the past two years, the controversy has centered on the role of the “Brothers” in Egypt, on former president  Mohamed Morsi’s legitimacy and the legality of General Sisi’s new government as of July 2013. Qatar has been the main source of support for the “Brothers” and their Palestinian offshoot, Hamas, for the last two decades.

Leading the opposition to Qatar’s policies was Saudi Arabia, and Sisi joined that opposition when he deposed Morsi. The relations between Qatar and its opponents reached a new low in March 2014, when the Saudis, Egypt and the United Emirates recalled their ambassadors from Qatar. Later, there were reports of a Saudi armed force concentrated on Qatar’s border that would have invaded the recalcitrant emirate, had Qatar not been under the protective shade of the United States, which has its main Persian Gulf airbase in Qatar as well as strong economic and institutional ties with it.

Qatar has been the main supporter of Hamas for years, providing funds and a venue for Hamas leadership after it left Damascus, while granting political backing to the movement and its rule in Gaza. Several years ago, Turkey joined the Hamas supporters axis, sometimes joined by Iran –  the latter motivated by its hatred of Israel and/or its hostility to the Saudi regime.

When the current round of hostilities between Hamas and Israel broke out, the Qatar-Turkey Axis immediately placed itself on the side of Hamas, while on the opposing side stood the anti-Muslim-Brotherhood-and-Hamas Axis, consisting of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Emirates and Jordan. America attempted to help the Qatar Axis, but retreated when faced with strong criticism, both from Israel and Congress. The Palestinian Authority is torn between its desire to see Israel destroy Hamas and its pity for the Gazans who are paying with their blood for the Hamas takeover of their lives – and deaths.

When the possibility of ceasefire negotiations was broached, rivalry broke out between the two sides over who would head them and who would be able to sway the agreement in the direction he preferred. As the days went by, it became clear that the solution would depend on the result of the duel between the Saudi King and the Qatar Emir, with the winner designing the future of any agreement between Israel and Hamas.

On August 9, 2014, It became obvious that the winner was the Saudi King and the Egypt-Emirates Axis, the group opposed to Hamas, although not openly supporting Israel. Saudi victory over Qatar and its supporters was certain when last weekend, the Emir could be seen rushing to Riyadh, the capital of the country that opposes his nation’s activities.

Qatar’s surrender reached world consciousness mainly by way of Al Mayadeen, the media channel that has placed itself in opposition to Qatar’s Al-Jazeera.

For example, Al-Jazeera, Qatar’s media channel, calls the president of Egypt “El Sisi”, avoiding the title “President”, because Qatar still sees Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood champion, as the lawful president of Egypt. As opposed to Al-Jazeera, Al Mayadeen uses the title  “President Sisi”.

Al  Mayadeen was founded two years ago in Lebanon by a former Al-Jazeera reporter , Ghassan Ben Jeddou, who handed in his angry resignation from  Al-Jazeera because of the network’s political stand on Saudi Arabia and the takeover of Bahrain during the “Arab Spring.”. Al Mayadeen is suspected of being prejudiced against Qatar and its policies. However, now that there is a proliferation of Arab media channels that are free of government censorship, the only way a network can succeed is if its reports are seen as trustworthy. The above means that the information that follows reporting on the Qatari Emir’s visit to Riyadh, his meeting with the Saudi King and the words exchanged during the meeting,  is not totally reliable.

Note: My interpretations are in the parentheses.

On August 9th, Al Mayadeen reported in Arabic: “The Emir of Qatar told the Saudi King that his country is not in favor of forming alliances (i.e. Qatar is giving up the leadership of the Axis it led up to now). Gaza has become everyone’s focus (i.e. we know that Saudi Arabia does not care about Gaza’s fate)…”.

crown-prince-tamim-al-thani-of-qatar

“The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Ben Hamad Ben Khalifa El Thani, said that he has arrived (i.e. was forced to crawl) to Riyadh in order to meet the Saudi King Abdallah ben Abed Elaziz, because he (the Qatari Emir)  knows well the loyalty of the Saudi King to the Arab Nation (i.e. to Saudi Arabia, its friends and their interests alone) and the trust he places in him and he will tell him (the king) what is going on in Gaza (i.e. the catastrophe Israel is wreaking on Hamas and Qatar) out of fear that we will lose our way  (i.e.Israel will win).

“Qatar does not have a policy of forming alliances (Qatar is sorry it led an alliance against the Saudis) even though there was once someone in Qatar who acted like a megalomaniac on the subject of Qatar and its size (severe criticism of Sheikh Hamad, the present Emir’s father and of Sheikh Hamad’s Foreign Minister, who took a politically arrogant line towards the Arab world and Saudi Arabia in particular, despite the fact that Qatar is a tiny Emirate. The Qatari Emir understands that without this criticism, or true repentance, the Saudi King will give him short shrift.).

Al Mayadeen continues: “The Qatari Emir made it clear to the Saudi King that Qatar is worthless if it does not belong to the Gulf Emirates (here he is begging the Gulf nations to allow their ambassadors return to Qatar) or its Arab partners (i.e. we are sorry for the anti- Egypt, Jordan and PA policies we espoused). Both sides (i.e. Axes) complement one another (i.e. our Axis surrenders to yours).

“The Qatari Emir told the Saudi King in plain language: Qatar is willing to follow in your footsteps and heed your instructions (i.e. totally abrogates its independent policies of the last few years) in order to ease the suffering of the Palestinian people (i.e. to salvage Hamas’ rule over the Palestinians who serve it as human shields).

“The Qatari Emir added: ‘In the face of the immense magnitude of the crimes and war of destruction going on in Gaza (and the danger that the Gazans will rebel against Hamas rule), there is no reason for Egypt (and its backer, Saudi Arabia) to insist on an initiative (i.e. conditions for surrender) that doesn’t meet the minimum expectations and demands of the Palestinians (read Hamas), especially now that Israel needs a ceasefire (i.e. Israel can continue fighting on and on because of the Israeli public’s support for their government).

“‘I don’t see how the Egyptians can bring themselves to shut out the Hamas movement. Let us put aside, my lord (!!!), our reckoning with Hamas (and the crimes it committed against Egypt and the Palestinians) for a future date (and then we will forget about them) and stand with the Palestinian people who stand behind Hamas (bearing knives) and support Hamas’ demands (to end the siege).’”

“‘I have come to you, my lord (!!!) in order to hear good tidings (now that we have surrendered and ended our policy of supporting Hamas) that will save us from the situation we are in now (i.e. the isolation we brought on ourselves by supporting  the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, which is on the verge of collapse).’”

Al Mayadeen reports that the meeting between the Saudi King and the Qatari Emir was just ten minutes long, and does not bring the response of the Saudi King – who may have remained silent throughout.

The significance of the detailed report is in the total subjugation of Qatar to Saudi Arabia, of a young and inexperienced Emir to an older and wiser king. What brought about this abject surrender is the combination of Israeli determination and the geography of Gaza, an area under siege even if the present siege is removed, with Israel on one side, Egypt on the other and only the sea – blockaded as well – as a way to find refuge.  Qatar’s peninsula is in a similar position: one can reach the rest of the continent from Qatar only by way of hostile Saudi Arabia or by way of the sea. If not for the American presence there, Saudi Arabia could crush the Qatar regime within a few hours as it did to Bahrain in 2011.

Read more

Saudi King Warns of Fitna

1534157424By Clare M. Lopez:

As the annual Muslim holy month of Ramadan drew to a close in late July 2014, Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud addressed a meeting of senior Saudi leadership figures and religious scholars in Jeddah. The Saudi monarch, who turned 90 on 1 August, spoke during the Eid al-Fitr celebrations to an audience of his closest supporters. While an official statement aimed at the overall international community had been read out on his behalf on Saudi state television on Friday 25 July 2014 in which he called the Israeli Operation Protective Edge in Gaza as “a war crime against humanity,” at the Jeddah meeting, Abdullah returned to a theme that apparently concerns the Saudi royals even more than Gaza these days. He called it fitna, meaning civil strife among fellow Muslims, but what he really meant was the seemingly unstoppable advance of the Islamic State (IS) that now threatens the borders of the Saudi kingdom.

Back in the 2011-2013 timeframe, the Saudis, along with the Qataris and Turks, had been among the early supporters of what was then known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), when the hard-core Salafi militia was seen as the best chance for ousting the Iranian-backed regime of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. But after al-Qa’eda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri officially broke ties with the group in February 2013 because its Iraqi leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, refused to confine his activities to Iraq, ISIS began a savage rampage across Syria that eventually in June 2014 drove southward into Iraq as well. The speed of the ISIS advance spread shock and alarm throughout the region. Division after division of the Iraqi army, trained and equipped by the U.S., collapsed and fled, abandoning large quantities of top-of-the-line tanks, vehicles, and weapons to ISIS. On 29 June 2014, with an ever-expanding swath of territory now fallen to his forces, al-Baghdadi proclaimed the establishment of a Caliphate (The Islamic State – IS). Shariah and the so-called ‘Conditions of Umar’ (the dhimma conditions) are brutally enforced everywhere under its control, sending hundreds of thousands of Christians, Shi’ites, Yazidis, and other minorities fleeing IS’s merciless demands to “convert, pay the jizya, or die.” Atrocities not seen on such a scale for many decades include the Islamic hudud punishments of amputations, crucifixions, flogging, and stoning, plus beheadings (even of children), sexual enslavement of captured women and the wholesale slaughter of prisoners.

It was against this backdrop that King Abdullah convened some of his closest supporters for the Jeddah speech, in which he cited key Qur’anic passages to condemn in the bluntest terms the “tumult and oppression” that IS is spreading:

Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors.

And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have Turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, slay them. Such is the reward of those who suppress faith.

But if they cease, Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.

And fight them on until there is no more Tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah; but if they cease, Let there be no hostility except to those who practise oppression. (Qur’an 2:190 – 193)

Understandably shaken (and with good reason, given the thoroughly un-Islamic lifestyles enjoyed by many Saudi royals), the Saudi King directed his message at the Muslim community as a whole, but called specifically upon “Muslim leaders and scholars of the Islamic nation to carry out their duty towards Allah Almighty and stand in the face of those trying to hijack Islam and [present] it to the world as a religion of extremism, hatred and terrorism.”

Read more at Center for Security Policy

U.S. Fostering Closer Iran-Saudi Ties

iuby Joseph Puder:

According to Arab News, (June 2, 2014) a high official in the Obama administration is “encouraging Riyadh and Tehran to end their dispute.” This was quoted in Kuwait’s Al-Rai Arabic daily in an interview with an unnamed U.S. diplomat. Meanwhile, the Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Sabah ended his visit to Tehran.

Last month, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel visited Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh in a quest to establish a détente between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Hagel got his cue from earlier remarks made by Iran’s President Rouhani, suggesting that Iran would like to improve its ties with Saudi Arabia.

It seems that the Obama administration is now serving as an agent for Iran. The Islamic Republic that has encouraged street demonstrations calling for “death to America,” is the same regime that has been working hard to remove U.S. influence in the region. Iran is an oppressive and radical Islamic state backing the Assad regime in Syria which murdered over 200,000 of its own people, and used chemical agents to poison thousands of innocent civilians. The Obama administration has hitherto not been able to stop the Tehran regime from producing advanced centrifuges. Iran has continued its quest for nuclear weapons, despite its ongoing nuclear talks with the P5+1 (U.S. China, Russia, Britain, France, and Germany).

Saudi-Iranian reconciliation talks are scheduled to take place in the middle of June, and the Obama administration hopes for a new era in the relationship between the two Gulf powers. The Saudis are less than thrilled about the impending talks. Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi political analyst, is skeptical about the talks, pointing out that “Iran has occupied Syria,” and is backing the Assad regime. He added that, the “Iranians want to drag us into an extended dialogue and divert attention from the core issue of Syria.”

Iran’s mouthpiece, Press TV reported (April 27, 2014) that Saudi Foreign Minister, Saud al-Faisal will be removed from his post in a second phase of changes in the ruling family’s key positions. It also revealed that on April 15, 2014, Saudi King Abdullah has replaced Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi intelligence chief with Youssef al-Idrisi. Press TV added that Bandar, the former Saudi ambassador to the U.S., is known to have had close ties with former U.S. President George W. Bush, and that he was an advocate of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The Iranian interpretation that is apparently stemming from Press TV is that President Obama, in seeking to reverse his predecessor’s (G.W. Bush) foreign policy, has persuaded the Saudis to get rid of the anti-Iranian elements among the Kingdom’s leadership. Apparently, this has resulted in the removal of Prince Bandar, and the impending retirement of Saud al-Faisal.

Read more at Front Page

Turnaround: Is Saudi Arabia shifting course towards Iran?

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah (R) and his brother Prince Salman. Photo: REUTERS

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah (R) and his brother Prince Salman. Photo: REUTERS

By Jonathan Spyer:

A number of recent Saudi moves and official statements have led to speculation regarding a possible shift on the kingdom’s stance toward Iran.

The Saudis appear to be moving at least on a declarative level away from a position according to which Iranian ambitions are a threat to be resisted, toward an attempt to accommodate Teheran.

The speculation regarding a changed Saudi stance rests largely on three recent public events.

The first was the meeting last month between newly-minted Saudi ambassador to Teheran Rahman al-Shehri and former Iranian President Ali Akbar Rafsanjani.

Al-Shehri demonstrably kissed Rafsanjani on the forehead during the meeting. In addition to demonstrating the depth of the ambassador’s patriotism, this act was held by some commentators to portend a renewed Saudi determination to set relations with Iran on a new footing.

The second was the Saudi announcement of an invitation to Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to visit the kingdom.

The third element that many analysts have pointed to in asserting a change in the direction of Saudi policy is the recent replacement of Prince Bandar Bin Sultan from his position as head of the Saudi intelligence services.

Bandar had been associated with a pro-active Saudi policy in Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain and other points of Saudi-Iranian tension. His replacement by Mohamed Bin Nayef was seen as portending a less activist regional policy.

This was accompanied by the replacement of Deputy Defense Minister Salman Bin Sultan. Bin Sultan is the half brother of Bandar, and like him was associated with a policy of activist resistance to Iran’s regional advance.

These Saudi gestures should be placed in a context of clear US pressure to their Gulf clients to get ‘on board’ with Washington’s regional diplomacy, close to the center of which appears to be a desire to ‘flip’ Iran from foe to friend.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

The Hypocrisy of Anti-Blasphemy Laws

love_prophet-450x307By Rachel Molschky:

Saudi Arabia is calling for anti-blasphemy laws in Norway, where“too little has been done to counter criticism against the prophet” and Muslim citizens have been victims of “hate crimes,” according to the nation of Muhammad’s birthplace. It has asked for the UN to review the situation.

Without knowing the specifics of the “hate crime” charges, it is difficult to surmise, although if there were serious attacks occurring, the people involved would be crying bloody murder. Case in point: Central African Republic. As blogger Blazing Cat Fur put it, “Muslims Attack Christians, Christians Retaliate, Amnesty [International] Labels It Ethnic Cleansing of Muslims!” And if the “hate crimes” are anything like what Britain’s Tell MAMA was reporting, they could be nothing more than name calling on social media- and that goes both ways.

As for a country like Saudi Arabia calling for anti-blasphemy laws in Norway, the chutzpah is astounding. In Saudi Arabia, no other religion can publicly exist. If you are not Muslim, you’d better not live there, and even travelers must follow strict rules. They are not permitted to carry Bibles, crosses or any other religious paraphernalia. Jews and people with “Jewish-sounding” names are not allowed entry.

The demand for anti-blasphemy laws gains momentum whenever something is blown out of proportion in the Muslim community like the “Innocence of Muslims” film or the Muhammad cartoons. However, it is always up for debate, and Saudi Arabia is appealing to the world’s love of “human rights” in order to push the issue. The trouble is, Saudi Arabia and “human rights” do not belong in the same sentence.

Sharia law is the law in Saudi Arabia, so everyone must abide by Islamic law, and the crimes of adultery, homosexuality and apostasy will get you beheaded. Alcohol consumption will land you in prison or will get you flogged. Drug dealers will often get a death sentence. Thieves will typically get one hand and one foot chopped off. If a woman is raped and reports the rape, without four male witnesses, she may be convicted of adultery, which carries a death sentence. Women have also been convicted of sorcery, another crime in Saudi Arabia where “witches” are beheaded with a sword.

But of course, insulting Muhammad in Norway is a “human rights” violation.

Pew Research did a study on blasphemy laws for the year 2011. The results showed that in the parts of the world where there is a concentration of Muslim countries, there are anti-blasphemy laws:

“Anti-blasphemy laws are particularly common in the Middle East and North Africa; 13 of the 20 countries in that region (65%) make blasphemy a crime. In the Asia-Pacific region, nine of the 50 countries (18%) had anti-blasphemy laws in 2011, while in Europe such laws were found in eight out of 45 countries (18%). Just two of the 48 countries in sub-Saharan Africa – Nigeria and Somalia – had such laws as of 2011.”

The study also found that apostasy was outlawed in 20 Muslim countries but nowhere else.

It is the hypocrisy of these laws that is worth noting. While it is blasphemy in Islam to insult Muhammad, and Muslims are adamant that the rest of the world respect their prophet, it is this very same prophet who called on his followers to massacre the unbelievers.

“I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.” Qur’an 8:12

Read more at Cherson and Molschky

U.S. Keeps Saudi Arabia’s Worst Secret

1395740809274.cachedBy Eli Lake:

The most comprehensive study of Saudi textbooks ever commissioned by the U.S. government was completed at the end of 2012, but to this date the State Department has kept it from the public.
As President Obama prepares for his first visit of his second term to Saudi Arabia, pressure is mounting on the State Department to publish the most comprehensive U.S. government study of the Kingdom’s textbooks.

While the study has been finished since the end of 2012, it has nonetheless been kept from the public, according to a new report by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a center-right think tank in Washington.

The report, shared with The Daily Beast ahead of publication Tuesday, says, “The State Department is in possession of a uniquely exhaustive set of recent findings about incitement in Saudi Arabia’s education system, findings that it has declined to release for public consumption.”

The textbook study itself, according to current and former U.S. officials, presents a mixed picture. While it praises the Saudis for making some reforms and removing the most offensive language from textbooks, it still found there was room for improvement.

State Department officials say the study of Saudi textbooks was never meant to be released to the public. The president of the non-profit that wrote the study told the Daily Beast the same.

But others disagree. Michael Posner, who served as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor for Obama’s first term said the State Department always had the choice to publish the textbook study.

“We commissioned the study to assess and evaluate the content of the textbooks with the intention of sharing our findings with the Saudi government and with the option, depending on the findings, of making it public if the problems persisted,” Posner told the Daily Beast.

Posner declined to discuss the contents of the unpublished Saudi textbook study in the interview. But he spoke about the problem of Saudi textbooks in more general terms.“Among the references that were most offensive were commentary that linked Christians and Jews to apes and pigs,” Posner said. “If those references are still in some textbooks then the problem hasn’t been solved.”

While the content of Saudi textbooks on the surface may appear to be a less urgent issue for the U.S.-Saudi relationship than counter-terrorism, the security of oil fields or Iran’s quest for a nuclear weapon, the Kingdom’s support for Islamic extremism has been a quiet priority for U.S. policy makers since 9/11. Saudi textbooks are not only used in Saudi schools, but they are also sent free of charge to Muslim schools all over the world, including in the U.S.

Often these textbooks promote the kind of religious chauvinism embraced by Sunni terror groups like al Qaeda. A June 12, 2006 cable from the U.S. embassy in Riyadh disclosed by WikiLeaks highlights this kind of bigotry. It says an eighth grade textbook for example says, “God will punish any Muslim who does not literally obey God just as God punished some Jews by turning them into pigs and monkeys.”

This cable says the textbooks reviewed by the U.S. embassy in Saudi Arabia were borrowed by U.S. diplomats from children in part because the Saudi government was reluctant to share them.

A June 16, 2008 WikLeaks cable from the U.S. embassy in Saudi Arabia notes that Saudis were making a “good faith effort” to reform their textbooks, but nonetheless expressed disappointment over “continued occurrences of intolerant language in the textbooks we reviewed.”

Current and former U.S. officials say the State Department in 2011 commissioned the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy (ICRD), a non-profit that promotes religious tolerance, to evaluate Saudi textbooks in 2011 in part because earlier efforts were never comprehensive. The Foundation for Defense of Democracies said the initial contract for the study was for $500,000.

Douglas Johnston, the president and founder of ICRD said that he recommended against publishing the results of the study.  “We strongly suggested it should not be published because they are making great progress on this. We can achieve a lot more if we pursue this outside the public domain.”

Read more at The Daily Beast

pp tweet

http://iiit.org/AboutUs/Agreements/ICRD/tabid/109/Default.aspx

 

 

Saudi Arabia and the Muslim Brotherhood

gh23By Joseph Puder:

Reuters reported on March 7, 2014 that Saudi Arabia had formally designated the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) as a terrorist organization. Apparently the Saudis view the MB with a great deal of suspicion and mistrust, seeing the organization as too “republican” and anti-monarchist.

According to the Qatari Daily News, the Hamas regime in Gaza was also designated as a terrorist organization by the Saudis. Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have followed suit, thus exposing Qatar as the only Arab Gulf state to support the Muslim Brotherhood. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain have all recalled their ambassadors from Qatar, accusing Qatar of failing to abide by the agreement not to interfere in each other’s affairs.

The ambassadors’ crisis has to do with a Cairo tribunal decision to freeze the assets of the Palestinian Hamas terrorist organization and bar it from Egyptian territory. Hamas is allied with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, and linked to the attacks in Egypt.

The Saudi-Qatari rift is connected to the very different attitude each country has toward the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Gaza. Whereas the Saudi regime supported the coup against President Muhammad Morsi, and sought to reinforce the military-dominated government that followed, Qatar has continued to back the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Saudis and the Emiratis were swift in their support of the military coup in Egypt in July, 2013, that deposed Muslim Brotherhood President Muhammad Morsi. Both Gulf States pledged billions of dollars in support of General Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi, the military chief that lead the takeover. Ironically, Morsi’s first foreign visit as President of Egypt, in July, 2012, was to Saudi Arabia, where he pledged that his MB government would not seek to export the revolution beyond its own borders. He assured the Saudis that Egypt would not encourage opposition to their regime nor provide support for Islamist regimes.

The Saudis, always mistrustful of Egyptian intentions, were skeptical of Morsi’s assurances. The Saudis have had a long struggle with the revolutionary and socialist oriented regime of Egypt’s dictator Gamal Abdul Nasser, who had hoped to export his revolutionary, socialist, Arab-nationalist, and anti-western creed throughout the Arab world. In the mid-1960’s Egypt and Saudi Arabia fought a proxy war in Yemen. One of the underlying fears held by the Saudi royals was that Nasser’s intentions were to depose them and take over their oil fields.

In the Middle East where the adage “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” is often realized, the Saudi royal family provided various forms of support to the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Political asylum was granted to its leaders, and they helped to fund various Islamic charities in which the MB played a major role. Nasser, in 1954, decreed the dissolution of the Muslim Brotherhood and ordered its supreme guide, Hasan Al-Hodeibi, arrested along with other leaders and members of the MB. In October, 1954, an attempt on Nasser’s life while he delivered a speech in Alexandria resulted in a mass roundup and trial of thousands of MB members. Some MB leaders were sentenced to death and others to life imprisonment.

Sayed Qutb, the ideological leader of the MB, turned against the leadership in Muslim states. He invoked the practice of “takfir,” branding some Muslim regimes as “infidels,” and thus legitimizing their violent overthrow, aimed particularly at Nasser’s regime. In 1966, he was executed by Nasser orders.

It is worthwhile to note that not only did the MB receive support early on from the Saudis, but the Eisenhower administration tried to cultivate them as well, to act as a lever against Soviet Communism in the Cold War era.

Read more at Front Page

The Double-Edged Sword of Jihad

LIBYAby :

Islamic nations are again learning that the jihad is a volatile instrument of war that can easily backfire on those who preach it; that “holy war” is hardly limited to fighting and subjugating “infidels”—whether the West in general, Israel in particular, or the millions of non-Muslim minorities under Islam—but can also be used to fight “apostates,” that is, Muslims accused of not being Islamic enough.

In an unprecedented move and following Egypt’s lead, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain recently withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar, largely due to its Al Jazeera propaganda network which, since the ousting of the Muslim Brotherhood, has been inciting chaos in the region.

According to a March 7 Reuters reports, “Saudi Arabia has formally designated the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, in a move that could increase pressure on Qatar whose backing for the group has sparked a row with fellow Gulf monarchies….  Saudi Arabia and the UAE are fuming over Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood, and resent the way Doha has sheltered influential cleric Yusuf Qaradawi, a critic of the Saudi authorities, and given him regular airtime on its pan-Arab satellite channel Al Jazeera.”

Qaradawi, of course, has been an Al Jazeera mainstay for many years, regularly preaching jihad against Israel and other “infidels”—telling millions of Muslim viewers to “obey the prophet, even if he tells you to kill.”

Back then, Qaradawi was not a problem for the Gulf States.

However, since the Egyptian June 30 Revolution saw the ousting and subsequent banning of the Muslim Brotherhood, and ever since the Brotherhood’s supporters—chief among them Qaradawi, through his Al Jazeera program—have been inciting violence in the region, especially in Egypt and Syria, the jihad is spinning out of control; and the Gulf monarchs know that, if not contained and directed, it can easily reach them.

Read more at Front Page

Saudi terrorism list raises question about Islamic Front

A fighter from the Islamic Front holds an assault rifle while a fellow fighter looks through a hole in a wall inside a damaged school in Idlib, Feb. 4, 2014. (photo by REUTERS/Loubna Mrie)

A fighter from the Islamic Front holds an assault rifle while a fellow fighter looks through a hole in a wall inside a damaged school in Idlib, Feb. 4, 2014. (photo by REUTERS/Loubna Mrie)

By Abdallah Suleiman Ali:

Yesterday [March 7], Saudi Arabia made a preliminary terrorism list that included the names of many organizations and movements inside and outside the kingdom.

Adopting that list was part of the February royal decree that criminalized anyone fighting outside Saudi Arabia. The decree ordered forming a commission to prepare a list of currents and movements that qualify as terrorist groups, thus criminalizing belonging or sympathizing with them.

The commission is composed of representatives from the ministries of interior, justice, Islamic affairs, and foreign affairs, the Council of Grievances office, the investigating committee and the prosecutor’s office. The commission explicitly named some organizations and movements — such as al-Qaeda, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Qaeda in Yemen, al-Qaeda in Iraq, Jabhat al-Nusra, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), Hezbollah within the Kingdom, the Muslim Brotherhood organization and the Houthi group.

However, the commission’s list contained vague terms that rendered the list very hard to interpret and subject to many variations. That may have been intentional in order to leave maneuvering room and flexibility for Saudi authorities regarding some organizations with which the kingdom has strong ties, especially in the Syrian arena. Perhaps the most prominent of those is specifically the Army of Islam, and generally Jabhat al-Nusra.

It is not clear whether the terrorism list encompassed the Islamic Front. The Islamic Front was not mentioned on the list, which may suggest that it was excluded from the terrorism label and that Riyadh will continue to fund the front’s components, especially the Army of Islam, led by Zahran Alloush. But the commission asserted that the list encompasses “every organization that is similar to these organizations in thought, word, or deed” and “all organizations contained in Security Council resolutions and international bodies” and “known as terrorist and practice violence.” That indicates that the Saudi decision left room for many organizations and movements that are not mentioned on the list by name, whereby it is up to the discretion of Saudi political leadership to classify some groups as terrorist at the proper time and in the way that serves Saudi interests.

Read more at al Monitor

Egypt Joins Other Arab States In Pulling Ambassador From Qatar

By gmbwatch:

US media has reported that Egypt joined three other Arab states last Thursday in withdrawing its ambassador from Qatar over its support of the Muslim Brotherhood. According a New York Times report:

Egypt

Egypt

March 6, 2014 CAIRO — Egypt on Thursday became the fourth Arab state in two days to pull its ambassador from Qatar over its support for Islamists around the region, including the deposed Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi, and his supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood.

After the withdrawal of envoys from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, Egypt’s statement formalizes a breach between Cairo and Doha that began shortly after the military ouster of Mr. Morsi last summer. Its move adds to Qatar’s sudden isolation in the region and reinforces the alliance binding Egypt’s new military-backed government to the other oil-rich Persian Gulf monarchies.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain were deeply apprehensive about the potential influence on their own populations of either democratic or Islamist leadership in Cairo. Since the Egyptian military removed Mr. Morsi, the conservative gulf states have donated billions of dollars to support the new government, just as Qatar had spent heavily to try to prop up the previous Islamist one.

Egyptian state news media declared Thursday that most of the Arab world had now repudiated Qatar, asserting that Doha must now decide whether it would stand on the side of ‘Arab solidarity’ or against it.

Read the rest here.

The GMBDW has been comprehensively covering the increasing pressure faced by the Muslim Brotherhood in the Gulf countries including:

  • The withdrawal by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates of heir envoys to Qatar
  • The troubles of Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi who has been antagonizing Gulf rulers with his increasingly strident criticisms.
  • The trials of Muslim Brotherhood leaders and cadre in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
  • The actions taken by Saudi Arabia of late against the Muslim Brotherhood.
  • The increasingly difficult situation faced by the Muslim Brotherhood in Kuwait.

In a Featured Story, the GMBDW reported yesterday on the Saudi decision to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, noting that the decision did not appear to prevent two well-known leaders in the Global Muslim Brotherhood from attending a recent conference of the Saudi Muslim World League.

************

That last embedded link includes the following important observation:

However, research by the GMBDW suggests that while clearly targeting the Muslim Brotherhood in the Gulf, the move by Saudi Arabia may not reflect the Kingdom’s abandoning of support for the wider Global Muslim Brotherhood. Saudi media has reported on the conclusion of last week’s global conference sponsored by the Muslim World League (MWL) titled ““The Islamic World, Problems and Solutions” which among other things, proposed the institution of the King Abdullah Islamic Solidarity Prize. Established in 1962 as a means for the propagation of Saudi “Wahabbi” Islam. Muslim Brothers played an important role in its founding and the League has always been strongly associated with the Brotherhood. US government officials have testified that MWL has in the past been linked to supporting Islamic terrorist organizations globally. According to the MWL’s own reporting, two leaders in the Global Muslim Brotherhood were in attendance at last weeks conference.

  • Ahmed Al-Rawiidentified as the head of the Islamic Waqf in Britain (aka Europe Trust), was said to have discussed the issue of Muslim Minorities. Dr. Al-Rawi is the current head of the Europe Trust, the endowment/funding arm of the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE), and a former FIOE President. FIOE, in turn, is the umbrella group representing the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe and known to have received funding from the MWL.
  • Issam Al-Bashiridentified as President of the Islamic Fiqh Council in Sudan, was said to have addressed the participants at the conference which he thanked for “their interest in supporting projects of Islamic solidarity.” Dr. Bashir has held numerous positions associated with the global Muslim Brotherhood including as a former director of the UK charity Islamic Relief, a member of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, and as a former Minister of Religious Affairs in the political party of Hassan Al-Turabi, formerly closely tied to the Brotherhood.

The presence of two important leaders in the Global Muslim Brotherhood at an important Saudi conference invoking the name of King Abdullah suggests that the Saudi regime either not understand the GMB fully or may in fact be prepared to prepared to allow continued support of the GMB while attempting to limit or destroy the Brotherhood presence in the Gulf.

 

 

 

Saudi Arabia Threatens to Lay Siege to Qatar: Cooperation or Confrontation?

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah

By David Hearst:

Saudi Arabia has threatened to blockade its neighbouring Gulf State Qatar by land and sea unless it cuts ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, closes Al Jazeera, and expels local branches of two prestigious U.S. think tanks, the Brookings Doha Center and the Rand Qatar Policy Institute.

The threats against the television station Al Jazeera, Brookings Institute and the Rand Corporation, were made by the Saudi Foreign Minister Saud bin Faisal in a foreign minister’s meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Riyadh last week, according to a source who was present. Bin Faisal said only these acts would be sufficient if Qatar wanted to avoid “being punished.”

News of the threats to shut down the Brookings and Rand Corporation think tanks in Doha will embarrass the U.S. president Barack Obama, who is due to visit Riyadh at the end of month. His Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker was in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, where she told AP that she will tell officials from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar that closer economic cooperation with Washington is a bridge to building deeper security ties.

The Saudi royal family were enraged and threatened, in equal measure, by the role Al Jazeera played in the first years of the Arab Spring , which saw fellow potentates deposed in popular revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt . They are now equally upset at the sympathetic coverage the Doha-based television station gives to the opposition, secular and Islamist, in Egypt. Three journalists from Al Jazeera, its Egypt bureau chief Mohamed Fahmy the Australian correspondent Peter Greste and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed appeared in court in Cairo last week accused of “joining a terrorist group, aiding a terrorist group, and endangering national security.” A fourth journalist, from Al Jazeera Arabic, Abdullah al-Shami is being tried in a separate case.

The military backed government in Egypt accuse Al Jazeera of providing a platform for the supporters of the ousted president Mohamed Morsi, and the now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. “Journalists are not terrorists,” Fahmy shouted from the cage in the courtroom.

Read more at Huffington Post

Also see:

Saudi Arabia designates Muslim Brotherhood as terrorist group: Interior Ministry

 

Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi shout slogans against the military and interior ministry, while gesturing with four fingers, during a protest in front of riot police outside a police academy, on the outskirts of Cairo January 8, 2014. CREDIT: REUTERS/AMR ABDALLAH DALSH

Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi shout slogans against the military and interior ministry, while gesturing with four fingers, during a protest in front of riot police outside a police academy, on the outskirts of Cairo January 8, 2014.
CREDIT: REUTERS/AMR ABDALLAH DALSH

(Reuters) – Saudi Arabia has formally designated the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group, official Saudi television reported citing a statement by the Interior Ministry.

The kingdom has also designated Nusra Front and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, whose fighters are battling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as terrorist organizations.

Friday’s move appeared to enforce last month’s royal decree where Riyadh said it would jail for between three and 20 years any citizen who fought guilty of fighting in conflicts abroad.

The kingdom’s authorities want to deter Saudis from joining rebels in Syria and posing a security risk once they return home.

Riyadh also fears the Brotherhood, whose conservative Sunni doctrines challenge the Saudi principle of dynastic rule, has tried to build support inside the kingdom since the Arab Spring popular revolutions in the Arab-speaking world.

In Egypt, the Brotherhood, which won every election following the toppling of long-time ruler Hosni Mubarak in 2011, has been driven underground since the army deposed President Mohamed Mursi, a longtime member of the group that also endured repression in the Mubarak era.

The army-backed government in Cairo designated the Brotherhood as a terrorist group in December after accusing it of carrying out a suicide bomb attack on a police station that killed 16 people. The Brotherhood condemned that attack and denies using violence.

Saudi Arabia’s Islamic religious authorities have previously spoken out against Saudi fighters going to Syria, but the Saudi Interior Ministry estimates that around 1,200 Saudis have gone there nonetheless.

Saudi Arabia: The Middle East’s Real Apartheid State

356-saudi-450x320by :

There is a country in the Middle East where 10 percent of the population is denied equal rights because of their race, where black men are not allowed to hold many government positions, where black women are put on trial for witchcraft and where the custody of children is granted to the parent with the most “racially superior” bloodline.

This Apartheid State is so enormously powerful that it controls American foreign policy in the Middle East even as its princes and princesses bring their slaves to the United Kingdom and the United States.

That country is Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia abolished slavery in 1962 under pressure from President Kennedy, who accomplished what the Ottoman Empire and the League of Nations had not been able to, but that hasn’t stopped its citizens from selling castrated slaves on Facebook or its princes from beating their black slaves to death in posh London hotels.

The Saudis had clung to their racist privileges longer than anyone else. When rumors reached Mecca that the Ottoman Empire might be considering the abolition of African slavery and equal rights for all, the chief of the Ulema of Mecca issued a fatwa declaring “the ban on slaves is contrary to Sharia (Islamic Law)… with such proposals the Turks have become infidels and it is lawful to make their children slaves.”

But Saudi Arabia’s oil wealth eventually made slavery economically unnecessary. Early on, African slaves worked for foreign oil companies which paid their masters, but they were a poor fit for the oil economy. The Kingdom no longer needed agricultural slaves and pearl drivers; it needed trained technicians from the West and international travel made it cheaper to import Asian workers for household labor and construction than to maintain its old trade in slaves.

The Saudis replaced the 450,000 slaves of the 1950s with 8.4 million guest workers. These workers are often treated like slaves, but they are not property and are therefore even more disposable than the slaves were. Exact numbers are hard to come by, but Nepal alone reported 265 worker deaths in Saudi Arabia in a single year.

Human Rights Watch has described conditions for foreign workers in Saudi Arabia as resembling slavery.

Meanwhile the three million Afro-Saudis are denied equal rights, prevented from serving as judges, security officials, diplomats, mayors and many other official positions. Afro-Saudi women are not allowed to appear on camera.

“There is not one single black school principal in Saudi Arabia,” the Institute for Gulf Affairs, a Saudi human rights group, reported.

Kafa’ah, equality in marriage, is used to establish that both sides are free from the “taint” of slave blood. The blood of Takruni, West African slaves, or Mawalid, slaves who gained their freedom by converting to Islam, is kept out of the Saudi master race through genealogical records that can be presented at need.

Challenges to the Kafa’ah of a marriage occur when tribal members uncover African descent in the husband or the wife after the marriage has already occurred. The racially inferior party is ordered to present “proof of equality” in the form of family trees and witnesses. If the couple is judged unequal, the Saudi Gazette reported, “Children’s custody is usually given to the ‘racially superior’ parent.”

These Saudi efforts at preventing their former slaves from intermarrying with them have only accelerated their incestuous inbreeding. In parts of Saudi Arabia, the percentage of marriages among blood relatives can go as high as 70%.

Read more at Front Page

Bandar bin Sultan’s Botched Syrian Intervention

by Hilal Khashan
Middle East Quarterly
Winter 2014

In an untypically abrasive speech, Saudi King Abdullah welcomed the ouster of Egypt’s president Muhammad Morsi, stating: “Let the entire world know that the people and government of the Saudi kingdom stood and still stand today with our brothers in Egypt against terrorism, extremism, and sedition.”[1] However dramatic, this apparent shift from Riyadh’s traditional accommodation of perceived enemies, such as the Muslim Brotherhood and its regional affiliates, to a more daring foreign policy is too little too late to reverse the decline of its regional power. And nowhere was this weakness more starkly demonstrated than in Riyadh’s botched Syrian intervention, led by its most celebrated diplomat—Prince Bandar bin Sultan.

A Broken Tradition of Cooptation

The foundations of Saudi foreign policy were laid under historical circumstances that were completely different from today’s political situation. From the 1930s to the early 1950s, Western presence in the Middle East was quite strong with the region enjoying geopolitical homeostasis. The rise of radical regimes in Egypt, Syria, and Iraq, coupled with Moscow’s growing involvement in the region, did not seem to threaten Riyadh’s domestic and international stance, and the intensifying U.S.-Saudi relations, cemented by mutual commitment to combating communism, steered the kingdom through the region’s periodic upheavals well into the late 1970s.

 

Saudi King Abdullah (l) meets with President Obama in Washington, June 29, 2010. Riyadh has been openly critical of U.S. policy in the Middle East and has sent unmistakable signals of its displeasure. Most Saudis worry that a vacillating and unserious commander-in-chief in Washington may leave them twisting in the region’s political winds.

This self-assurance played a central role in the Saudi royal family’s nonconfrontational approach and its preference for quiet diplomacy.[2] Military weakness, equilibrium, and calming situations were seemingly the three pillars of Riyadh’s foreign policy orientation. The royals ruled out asserting the kingdom as a military power and, thanks to oil wealth and religious significance, chose to make it a cornerstone of the regional balance of interests.[3]

The Iranian revolution and subsequent regional developments, notably the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and the recent Arab upheavals, undermined this delicate balance of interests and made Riyadh’s accommodative policy increasingly untenable. Things came to a head during the 2011 Shiite uprising in Bahrain, which the Saudis feared might spread to their own territory. Having helped to quell the restiveness in the tiny neighboring kingdom, Abdullah enlisted the services of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the former veteran ambassador to Washington, to take Saudi foreign policy in a more assertive direction.

The Prince of Sensitive Missions

Son of the late Saudi crown prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz al-Saud (d. 2011), Bandar began his political career in 1978 as King Khaled’s personal envoy to Washington bypassing Ambassador Faisal al-Hegelan.[4] He quickly impressed President Jimmy Carter by enlisting the support of Sen. James Abourezk (Democrat, S. Dakota) in the toss-up vote on the Panama Canal treaty, and his subtle diplomacy paved the way for Congress to pass the Saudi F-15 package shortly thereafter.[5] In 1986, Bandar entered the limelight as a result of his involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal and, four years later, played an instrumental role in convincing hesitant Saudi royals to invite U.S. troops into the kingdom to cope with the consequences of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Since then, he has served as a vital liaison between Washington and Riyadh. In 2005, upon the completion of Bandar’s 22-year stint in Washington, King Abdullah appointed him to lead the country’s National Security Council.

Bandar’s advice was sought in large part due to the mounting evidence that implicated Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah in the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister, Rafiq Hariri, Riyadh’s ally in Beirut. Following the July 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah and the latter’s crippling of the Fouad Seniora government, Bandar convinced Abdullah to invest in creating a Sunni militia to operate under the command of Hariri’s son Saad. This fateful but ill-studied decision undermined Bandar’s credibility when, in 2008, Hezbollah’s militiamen stormed west Beirut and effortlessly dismantled Saad’s militia in a matter of hours. Bandar had evidently failed to appreciate the strength of Hezbollah or the ineptitude of Hariri’s leadership.

The Saudi royal family is seriously concerned about the turn of events in the region and the possibility of demands for political reform such changes might initiate. With more than two-thirds of its tribally and religiously heterogeneous population alien to the austere Wahhabi doctrine,[6] there is very little in common between the Najd-originated ruling Wahhabi dynasty and its Shiite subjects in the oil-rich eastern province or Shafii and Maliki Sunni Muslims in Hijaz. Likewise, the kingdom’s southern subjects mostly belong to Yemeni tribes where Shiite Ismailis and Zaydis proliferate.

Nevertheless, this failure did not deter Abdullah from calling on Bandar again in July 2012 to head the Saudi intelligence apparatus. The Saudi king had already become disturbed about the course of events in Syria and Bashar Assad’s refusal to leave office. He may have thought that Bandar, who knew how to deal with Saddam Hussein, could work some magic with Bashar. In turn, mindful of Bandar’s deep unease with regional Shiite ascendancy, Tehran’s state-controlled media dubbed him the “prince of terrorists.”[7]

President George W. Bush meets with Saudi ambassador to the U.S., Prince Bandar bin Sultan (r), at the Bush ranch, August 27, 2002, in Crawford, Texas. Many Americans noted at the time the seeming supplicant position of their president. In 2005, King Abdullah appointed Bandar to lead the Saudi national security council.

President George W. Bush meets with Saudi ambassador to the U.S., Prince Bandar bin Sultan (r), at the Bush ranch, August 27, 2002, in Crawford, Texas. Many Americans noted at the time the seeming supplicant position of their president. In 2005, King Abdullah appointed Bandar to lead the Saudi national security council.

Read more 

Global Terrorism and Saudi Arabia: Bandar’s Terror Network

Saudi spymaster Bandar bin Sultan

Saudi spymaster Bandar bin Sultan

By Prof. James Petras, h/t @El_Grillo1

Saudi Arabia has all the vices and none of the virtues of an oil rich state like Venezuela.  The country is governed by a family dictatorship which tolerates no opposition and severely punishes human rights advocates and political dissidents.  Hundreds of billions in oil revenues are controlled by the royal despotism and fuel speculative investments the world over.  The ruling elite relies on the purchase of Western arms and US military bases for protection.  The wealth of productive nations is syphoned to enrich the conspicuous consumption of the Saudi ruling family.  The ruling elite finances the most fanatical, retrograde, misogynist version of Islam, “Wahhabi” a sect of Sunni Islam.

Faced with internal dissent from repressed subjects and religious minorities, the Saudi dictatorship perceives threats and dangers from all sides:  overseas, secular, nationalists and Shia ruling governments; internally, moderate Sunni nationalists, democrats and feminists; within the royalist cliques, traditionalists and modernizers.  In response it has turned toward financing, training and arming an international network of Islamic terrorists who are directed toward attacking, invading and destroying regimes opposed to the Saudi clerical-dictatorial regime.

The mastermind of the Saudi terror network is Bandar bin Sultan, who has longstanding and deep ties to high level US political, military and intelligence officials.  Bandar was trained and indoctrinated at Maxwell Air Force Base and Johns Hopkins University and served as Saudi Ambassador to the US for over two decades (1983 – 2005).  Between 2005 – 2011 he was Secretary of the National Security Council and in 2012 he was appointed as Director General of the Saudi Intelligence Agency.  Early on Bandar became deeply immersed in clandestine terror operations working in liaison with the CIA.  Among his numerous “dirty operations” with the CIA during the 1980s, Bandar channeled $32 million dollars to the Nicaragua Contra’s engaged in a terror campaign to overthrow the revolutionary Sandinista government in Nicaragua.  During his tenure as ambassador he was actively engaged in protecting Saudi royalty with ties to the 9/11/01 bombing of the Triple Towers and the Pentagon.  Suspicion that Bandar and his allies in the Royal family had prior knowledge of the bombings by Saudi terrorists (11 of the 19), is suggested by the sudden flight of Saudi Royalty following the terrorist act.  US intelligence documents regarding the Saudi-Bandar connection are under Congressional review.

With a wealth of experience and training in running clandestine terrorist operations, derived from his two decades of collaboration with the US intelligence agencies, Bandar was in a position to organize his own global terror network in defense of the isolated retrograde and vulnerable Saudi despotic monarchy.

Read more at Global Research

Also see: