Netanyahu’s epic understandings with Egyptian, Saudi and UAE rulers – a potential campaign weapon

áðéîéï ðúðéäå áîñéáú òéúåðàéí áîùøã øàù äîîùìä öéìåí : àîéì ñìîïDEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 6, 2014

The six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) rulers meet in the Qatari capital of Doha next week amid high suspense across the Arab world. Its agenda is topped by moves to finally unravel the 2010 Arab Spring policy championed by US President Barack Obama, moves that also bear the imprint of extensive cooperation maintained on the quiet between Israel and key Arab rulers.
DEBKAfile reports that the Doha parley is designed to restore Egypt under the rule of President Abdel Fatteh El-Sisi to the lead role it occupied before the decline of Hosni Mubarak. Another is to root out the Muslim Brotherhood by inducing their champion, the young Qatari ruler, Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, to drop his government’s support.

At talks taking place in Riyadh ahead of the summit, Qatari officials appeared ready to discontinue the flow of weapons, funds and intelligence maintained since 2011 to the Brothers and their affiliates across the Arab world (Libya, Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Hamas-ruled Gaza), as well shutting down the El Jazeera TV network – or at least stopping the channel’s use as the Brotherhood’s main propaganda platform.

The Doha summit is designed to crown a historic effort led by Saudi King Abdullah, UAE ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed and President El-Sisi to undo the effects of the Obama administration’s support for elements dedicated to the removal of conservative Arab rulers, such as the Brotherhood.

They have found a key ally in this drive in Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who took advantage of the chance of an epic breakthrough in relations with the leading bloc of Arab nations, with immediate and far-reaching effect on Israeli security and its standing in the region.

Yet at the same time, Netanyahu has kept this feat under his hat – even while smarting under a vicious assault by his detractors – ex-finance minister Yair Lapid and opposition leader Yakov Herzog of Labor – on his personal authority and leadership credibility (“everything is stuck,” “he’s out of touch.”) and obliged to cut short the life of his government for a general election on March 17.
He faces the voter with the secret still in his pocket of having achieved close coordination with the most important Arab leaders – not just on the Iranian nuclear issue and the Syrian conflict, but also the Palestinian question, which has throughout Israel’s history bedeviled its ties with the Arab world.
When Yair Lapid, whom Netanyahu sacked this week, boasted, “I am talking to the Americans” while accusing the prime minister of messing up ties with Washington, he meant he was talking to the Americans close to Barack Obama, whom Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi, hand in hand with Netanyahu, have judged adverse to their regimes.
This Arab-Israeli collaboration encompasses too many areas to keep completely hidden. Its fruits have begun breaking surface in a string of events.
This week, Israel apparently out of the blue, quietly agreed to Egypt deploying 13 army battalions in Sinai (demilitarized under their 1979 peace treaty), including tanks, and flying fighter jets over terrorist targets.

A joint Saudi-Israeli diplomatic operation was instrumental in obstructing a US-Iran deal on Tehran’s nuclear program.
Another key arena of cooperation is Jerusalem.
Friday, Dec. 5, Jordan announced the appointment of 75 new guards for the Al Aqsa Mosque compound on Temple Mount. The director of the mosque, Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani, said they will begin work in the coming days.

This was the outcome of Jordanian King Abdullah’s talks with the Egyptian president in Cairo Sunday, Nov. 30, in which they agreed that the Muslim Waqf Authority on Temple Mount must change its mode of conduct and replace with new staff the violent elements from Hamas, the Al Tahrir movement and Israeli Arab Islamists, which had taken charge of “security.”.

The Moslem attacks from the Mount on Jewish worshippers praying at the Western Wall below and Israeli police have accordingly ceased in the two weeks since Israel lifted its age restrictions on Muslim worshippers attending Friday prayers at Al Aqsa. Israel groups advocating the right to Jewish prayer on Temple Mount were discreetly advised to cool their public campaign.

The Palestinian riots plaguing Jerusalem for months have died down, except for isolated instances, since, as DEBKAfile revealed, Saudi and Gulf funds were funneled to pacify the city’s restive Palestinian neighborhoods.

Cairo and the Gulf emirates have used their influence with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to get him to moderate his invective against Israel and its prime minister, and slow his applications for Palestinian membership of international bodies as platforms for campaigning against the Jewish state.

Concerned by the way the mainstream Arab world was marginalizing the Palestinian question, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal chose his moment Friday – ahead of the White House meeting between the Jordanian monarch and President Obama – to try and re-ignite the flames of violence in Jerusalem. He went unheeded.
Netanyahu may or may not opt to brandish Israel’s diplomatic breakthrough to the Arab world as campaign fodder to boost his run for re-election.  Whatever he decides, the rulers of Saudi Arabia, the Arab emirates and Egypt are turning out to have acquired an interest in maintaining him in office as head of the Israeli government, in direct opposition to President Obama’s ambition to unseat him.

Saudi Arabia May Go Nuclear Because of Obama’s Iran Deal

1392403931746.cachedBy Eli Lake and Josh Rogin:

President Obama wants an agreement with Iran to prevent a Middle Eastern nuclear arms race, but it’s pushing Saudi Arabia toward its own nuke program.
Last month, America’s top Iran negotiator Wendy Sherman had some bad news for ambassadors from America’s Arab allies. In a meeting with envoys from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other Gulf states, Sherman said that any bargain with Iran would likely leave Tehran, the Gulf states long-time enemy, with the capacity to enrich uranium, according to U.S. officials briefed on the encounter.

Sherman regularly briefs these allies after diplomatic talks with Iran, but in recent weeks those conversations have been different. While most of America’s Middle East allies—with the exception of Israel—have publicly supported the current Iran negotiations, behind the scenes, envoys from the region have expressed grave concerns that Iran could be left with a break out capacity to make the fuel for a nuclear weapon at a time of their choosing.

And now, one of the countries in the region without a full-blown nuclear programs—Saudi Arabia—may be changing its mind. Riyadh has a long-standing interest in nuclear power. But Western and Israeli intelligence services are starting to see signs that this interest is growing more serious, and extends into nuclear enrichment. Until recently, the pursuit of nuclear enrichment—or the fuel cycle—was considered by arms control experts as a tell-tale sign of a clandestine weapons program. Nuclear fuel is sold to all members of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but it’s far more costly to build the infrastructure and produce it indigenously. Saudi Arabia appears to be getting more serious about going down that path.

If Saudi Arabia pursue nuclear enrichment even if there is an Iran deal, then the victory to curb atomic weapons that Obama has tried to achieve will be at least partially undone by his own diplomacy.

“They view the developments in Iran very negatively. They have money, they can buy talent, they can buy training,” said David Albright, the president of the Institute for Science and International Security and a former weapons inspector. “The Saudis are thinking through how do you create a deterrent through capability.”

Albright said in this particular case, an indigenous Saudi program is in the very early stages. In 2012, the Saudi government announced plans to build 16 commercial reactors by 2030 and signed a technology agreement with China. But Albright said he has heard concerns expressed by a European intelligence agency that Saudi Arabia in recent years has quietly been developing the engineering and scientific knowledge base to one day master the nuclear fuel cycle, or produce the fuel indigenously for the reactors it’s trying to build. He said Saudi Arabia was hiring the scientists and engineers needed to build the cascades of centrifuges needed to produce nuclear fuel. “We don’t worry about the Saudis learning to operate a reactor,” he said. “I worry that they will learn the skills needed to master the fuel cycle.”

Read more at The Daily Beast

Also see:

Qatar’s Jihad #StopQatarNow

Qatarby Brahma Chellaney:

Qatar may be tiny, but it is having a major impact across the Arab world. By propping up violent jihadists in the Middle East, North Africa, and beyond, while supporting the United States in its fight against them, this gas-rich speck of a country – the world’s wealthiest in per capita terms – has transformed itself from a regional gadfly into an international rogue elephant.

Using its vast resources, and driven by unbridled ambition, Qatar has emerged as a hub for radical Islamist movements. The massive, chandeliered Grand Mosque in Doha – Qatar’s opulent capital – is a rallying point for militants heading to wage jihad in places as diverse as Yemen, Tunisia, and Syria. As a result, Qatar now rivals Saudi Arabia – another Wahhabi state with enormous resource wealth – in exporting Islamist extremism.

But there are important differences between Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Qatar’s Wahhabism is less severe than Saudi Arabia’s; for example, Qatari women are allowed to drive and to travel alone. In Qatar, there is no religious police enforcing morality, even if Qatari clerics openly raise funds for militant causes overseas.

Given this, it is perhaps unsurprising that, whereas Saudi Arabia’s sclerotic leadership pursues reactionary policies rooted in a puritanical understanding of Islam, Qatar’s younger royals have adopted a forward-thinking approach. Qatar is the home of the Al Jazeera satellite television channel and Education City, a district outside of Doha that accommodates schools, universities, and research centers.

Similar inconsistencies are reflected in Qatar’s foreign policy. Indeed, the country’s relationship with the United States directly contradicts its links with radical Islamist movements.

Qatar hosts Al Udeid air base – with its 8,000 American military personnel and 120 aircraft, including supertankers for in-flight refueling – from which the US directs its current airstrikes in Syria and Iraq. Camp As-Sayliyah – another facility for which Qatar charges no rent – serves as the US Central Command’s forward headquarters. In July, Qatar agreed to purchase $11 billion worth of US arms.

Moreover, Qatar has used its leverage over the Islamists that it funds to help secure the release of Western hostages. And it hosted secret talks between the US and the Pakistan-backed Afghan Taliban. To facilitate the negotiations, Qatar provided a home, with US support, to the Taliban’s de facto diplomatic mission – and to the five Afghan Taliban leaders released earlier this year from US detention at Guantánamo Bay.

In other words, Qatar is an important US ally, a supplier of weapons and funds to Islamists, and a peace broker all at the same time. Add to that its position as the world’s largest supplier of liquefied natural gas and the holder of one of its largest sovereign-wealth funds, and it becomes clear that Qatar has plenty of room to maneuver – as well as considerable international clout. Germany’s government found that out when it was forced to retract its development minister’s statement that Qatar played a central role in arming and financing the Islamic State.

Qatar’s growing influence has important implications for the balance of power in the Arab World, especially with regard to the country’s rivalry with Saudi Arabia. This competitive dynamic, which surfaced only recently, represents a shift from a long history of working in tandem to export Islamist extremism.

Both Qatar and Saudi Arabia generously supplied weapons and funds to Sunni extremists in Syria, opening the door for the emergence of the Islamic State. Both have bolstered the Afghan Taliban. And both contributed to Libya’s transformation into a failed state by aiding Islamist militias. During the 2011 NATO campaign to overthrow Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi, Qatar even deployed ground troops covertly inside Libya.

Today, however, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are on opposite sides. Qatar, along with Turkey, backs grassroots Islamist movements like the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots in Gaza, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Iraq, and the Levant. That pits it against Saudi Arabia and countries like the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Jordan, whose rulers view such movements as an existential threat, with some, including the House of Saud, investing in propping up autocratic regimes like their own.

Read  more at Stagecraft and Statecraft

Brahma Chellaney, Professor of Strategic Studies at the New Delhi-based Center for Policy Research, is the author of Asian Juggernaut; Water: Asia’s New Battleground; and Water, Peace, and War: Confronting the Global Water Crisis.

Fracking lets us ditch Saudi oil to use our own

Money Jihad, Sep. 26, 2014:

As part of the run-up to Money Jihad’s five-year anniversary, we’re looking back at five important videos from over the past several years about the financing of terrorism.

Last week we looked at money that has been pumped into the Gulf monarchies in oil royalties that they have turned around to use for terror for decades to placate their own Wahhabi domestic religious/political partners.  But what are we going to do about it? Drill our way out. U.S. energy independence from Arab oil, largely driven by technological innovation through hydraulic fracturing, may be the biggest strategic game-changer in the global balance of power since World War II.

From a Fox News interview last year with the Wall Street Journal’s Steve Moore and national security analyst KT McFarland:

Women in Saudi Arabia – Is There Real Reform?

Andrew Harrod examines Katherine Zoepf’s “Shopgirls” presentation exclusively for the Religious Freedom Coalition.

 

A Women’s Storefront Window on Rights, Religion, and Reform in Saudi Arabia

(Washington, DC) “You cannot assume the same starting point” for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia as Western countries, journalist Katherine Zoepf obviously understated in a September 17 presentation of her research in the doctrinaire Muslim kingdom.  Zoepf’s discussion of the “not just window dressing” reform in the kingdom’s strict “gender segregation” allowing women retail jobs, though, raises important questions about Islamic “extremism” in Saudi Arabia and beyond.

Zoepf’s Washington, DC, Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting (Pulitzer Center) address centered on her December 2013 New Yorkerarticle “Shopgirls.”  Zoepf described therein how Saudi King Abdullah decreed in June 2011 a ban on male lingerie and cosmetic shop workers, leading the way towards other women retail positions.  Though “not…immediately evident,” Zoepf wrote, a “women’s revolution has begun in Saudi Arabia.”

A “male guardian—usually a father or husband” controlling “permission to study, to travel, and to marry” makes Saudi women “effectively…legal minors.”  A Saudi female doctor mentioned by Zoepf at Pulitzer Center, for example, enjoyed travel to places like Paris for medical conferences with her liberal husband’s generous permission, but after his death came under a conservative son’s strictures.  Another woman under the guardianship of her brother was raising her son as a liberal future replacement.

A Saudi female in a Supermarket check-out counter. the sign says “families only” because a male customer may not directly speak to her. A UK Citizen was beaten by religious police this year for speaking to a female clerk at a store.

A Saudi female in a Supermarket check-out counter. the sign says “families only” because a male customer may not directly speak to her. A UK Citizen was beaten by religious police this year for speaking to a female clerk at a store.

A “devout Saudi man avoids even mentioning the names of his wife and daughters in public” and they never met the man’s friends at home in one of the world’s “most patriarchal societies,” Zoepf wrote.  “You wouldn’t imagine that they live in the same homes,” Zoepf at Pulitzer Center said of husbands and wives’ segregated lives.  Separating as adolescents after childhood, male cousins might never see their female cousins’ faces again unless they are among the some 50% of first and second cousins who marry.  The kingdom meanwhile expends “vast resources” creating what Zoepf described at Pulitzer Center as an “entire second set of everything” such as female-only shopping malls and travel agencies.

Saudi women lack a “public identity,” Zoepf argued at Pulitzer Center, as they must wear in public the abaya body and head covering, although the niqab face covering is optional.  Saleswomen, though, often wear niqabs to avoid harassment from conservative customers or the “Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice” religious police (Hai’a or “committee” for short).  In lingerie stores, “Shopgirls” noted, “most customers remain fully covered even while being fitted.”

A public service advertisement with four Saudi girls covered in black abayas shown by Zoepf emphasized this covering.  Three of the girls had red “X”s under their images, as their abayas revealed slight protrusions caused by hair tied with ribbons underneath.  They “will not see heaven, nor will they smell its perfume,” Zoepf translated the advertisement’s Arabic caption.  Only the fourth without any such ornamentation had a green check mark.

An unveiled, stylishly-dressed Saudi woman in the Pulitzer Center  audience indicated Saudi progressivism’s limits.  This law student in America came from Jeddah, described by “Shopgirls” as “Saudi Arabia’s most liberal city.”  Moderating influences, Zoepf explained at Pulitzer Center, came to the port city throughout history in the form of annual pilgrims on hajj to Mecca from outside of Islam’s orthodox heartland.

Read more at Religious Freedom Coalition

Oil money and Saudi Arabia’s stranglehold over global affairs

Money Jihad, Sep. 18, 2014:

The five year anniversary of this blog’s inception is coming up in October. Before then we’ll revisit five videos that have touched on extremely important concepts in terrorist financing.

Today we’ll look at two. Money Jihad has shown one of them before—an interview with Bernard Lewis on C-SPAN—but it’s important enough to return to, about how oil money and the love affair between the House of Saud and Wahhabi clerics precipitated the rise of global jihad:

 

The other picks up where Lewis left off.  Former CIA director James Woolsey offers additional examples and comparisons about what Saudi oil money and the related control by Wahabbi clerics has meant for Islamic developments throughout the world over the past several decades.

 

Watching these videos and considering the billions of petrodollars that have flowed to terrorism, it almost feels silly to sniff out smaller transactions of a thousand dollars here and hundred dollars there to individual “martyrs” and their operations.

The Islamic State . . . of Saudi Arabia

pic_giant_092014_SM_John-Kerry-King-AbdullahNational Review, By Andrew C. McCarthy, Sep. 20.2014:

The beheadings over the last several weeks were intended to terrorize, to intimidate, to coerce obedience, and to enforce a construction of sharia law that, being scripturally rooted, is draconian and repressive.

And let’s not kid ourselves: We know there will be more beheadings in the coming weeks, and on into the future. Apostates from Islam, homosexuals, and perceived blasphemers will face brutal persecution and death. Women will be treated as chattel and face institutionalized abuse. Islamic-supremacist ideology, with its incitements to jihad and conquest, with its virulent hostility toward the West, will spew from the mosques onto the streets. We will continue to be confronted by a country-sized breeding ground for anti-American terrorists.

The Islamic State? Sorry, no. I was talking about . . .  our “moderate Islamist” ally, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

But the confusion is understandable.

Islamic State terrorists have infamously decapitated three of their prisoners in recent weeks. That is five fewer than the Saudi government decapitated in August alone. Indeed, it is three fewer beheadings than were carried out in September by the Free Syrian Army — the “moderate Islamists” that congressional Republicans have now joined Obama Democrats in supporting with arms and training underwritten by American taxpayer dollars.

The Obama administration regards the Saudi government as America’s key partner in the fight against Islamic State jihadists. The increasingly delusional Secretary of State John Kerry reasons that this is because the fight is more ideological than military. Get it? The world’s leading propagators of the ideology that breeds violent jihad are our best asset in an ideological struggle against violent jihadists.

Aloof as ever from irony, Mr. Kerry gave this assessment while visiting King Abdullah in Riyadh on, of all days, September 11 — the thirteenth anniversary of the day when 15 Saudis joined four other terrorists in mass-murdering nearly 3,000 Americans in furtherance of the Islamic-supremacist ideology on which they were reared. The 19 were, of course, members of al-Qaeda, the jihadist network sprung from Saudi Arabia and its fundamentalist “Wahhabi” Islam.

Secretary Kerry and President Obama, like British prime minister David Cameron, insist that the Islamic State, an al-Qaeda-launched jihadist faction, is not Islamic. Evidently, this is owing to the terrorists’ savage tactics. In essence, however, they are the same tactics practiced by our “moderate Islamist” allies.

Saudi Arabia is the cradle of Islam: the birthplace of Mohammed, the site of the Hijra by which Islam marks time — the migration from Mecca to Medina under siege by Mohammed and his followers. The Saudi king is formally known as the “Keeper of the Two Holy Mosques” (in Mecca and Medina); he is the guardian host of theHaj pilgrimage that Islam makes mandatory for able-bodied believers. The despotic Saudi kingdom is governed by Islamic law — sharia. No other law is deemed necessary and no contrary law is permissible.

It is thus under the authority of sharia that the Saudis routinely behead prisoners.

I happen to own the edition of the Koran “with English Translation of ‘The Meanings and Commentary,’” published at the “King Fahd Holy Qur-an Printing Complex” — Fahd was Abdullah’s brother and predecessor. As the introductory pages explain, this version is produced under the auspices of the regime’s “Ministry of Hajj and Endowments.” In its sura (or chapter) 47, Allah commands Muslims, “Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks.”

The accompanying English commentary helpfully explains:

When once the fight (Jihad) is entered upon, carry it out with the utmost vigor, and strike home your blows at the most vital points (smite at their necks), both literally and figuratively. You cannot wage war with kid gloves. [Italicized parentheticals in original.]

Sura 8 underscores the point with another of Allah’s exhortations: “I am with you: Give firmness to the Believers: I will instill terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: Smite ye above their necks and smite ye all their fingertips off them.”

Following the 9/11 attacks, Americans Daniel Pearl and Nick Berg were among prisoners notoriously decapitated by al-Qaeda. Reacting to their beheadings, Timothy Furnish, a U.S. Army veteran with a doctorate in Islamic history, wrote a comprehensive Middle East Quarterly essay on “Beheading in the Name of Islam.” As Dr. Furnish recounted,

The practice of beheading non-Muslim captives extends back to the Prophet himself. Ibn Ishaq (d. 768 C.E.), the earliest biographer of Muhammad, is recorded as saying that the Prophet ordered the execution by decapitation of 700 men of the Jewish Banu Qurayza tribe in Medina for allegedly plotting against him.

As is always the case, the prophet’s example has been emulated by Muslims through the centuries. When Muslims conquered central Spain in the eleventh century, for example, the caliph had 24,000 corpses beheaded; the remains were piled into makeshift minarets atop which muezzins sang the praises of Allah. In more modern times, Furnish adds, “The Ottoman Empire was the decapitation state par excellence” — employing the practice to terrorize enemies for centuries, including, to take just one of many examples, beheading hundreds of British soldiers captured in Egypt in 1807.

A pity Sheikh Cameron was not around back then to correct the caliphate’s understanding of Islam.

The Saudis behead prisoners for such “offenses” as apostasy. You see, our “moderate Islamist” allies brook no dissent and permit no freedom of conscience. In this, the world’s most identifiably Islamic regime is no different from its Shiite counterpart (and regional competitor) in Tehran — to which President Obama respectfully refers by its preferred name, “the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Sharia is the law there, too. While the regime is said to have repealed the punishment of decapitation, it still prescribes stoning, flogging, and amputation for various violations, such as adultery and petty theft.

Such cruel — but not at all unusual — punishments are designed to enforce a societal system that, as I’ve previously outlined, degrades and dehumanizes women, while subjecting apostates and homosexuals to death and non-Muslims to systematic discrimination.

As night follows day, young Muslims schooled in the ideology promoted in Saudi Arabia gravitate to jihadist networks such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. As recited in Reliance of the Traveller, an authoritative sharia manual endorsed by scholars at the ancient al-Azhar University in Egypt and the Islamic Fiqh Academy in Saudi Arabia, “Jihad means to war against non-Muslims.” They are simply acting on what “moderate Islamists” have been teaching them.

And now Republicans in Congress have joined Democrats to support President Obama’s hare-brained scheme to train 5,000 “moderate” Syrian rebels. As every sentient person knows, a force of that size will have no chance of defeating the Islamic State or al-Qaeda — even if we charitably assume that many in its ranks do not defect to those organizations, as they have been wont to do. The rebels will similarly have no chance against the Iran-backed Assad regime. In sum, our government, nearly $18 trillion in debt, will expend another $500 million to school 5,000 “moderate Islamists” in military tactics that cannot win the war in Syria but could eventually be used in the jihad against the United States. Welcome to Libya . . . the Sequel.

Oh, and did I mention that the training of these “moderate” rebels will take place in “moderate” Saudi Arabia?

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a policy fellow at the National Review Institute. His latest book is Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment.

Also see:

The Twenty-Eight Pages

President George W. Bush meets with Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi Ambassador to the United States, on August 27, 2002, at Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas. CREDIT PHOTOGRAPH BY ERIC DRAPPER/THE WHITE HOUSE VIA GETTY

President George W. Bush meets with Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi Ambassador to the United States, on August 27, 2002, at Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas.
CREDIT PHOTOGRAPH BY ERIC DRAPPER/THE WHITE HOUSE VIA GETTY

BY LAWRENCE WRIGHT:

On the bottom floor of the United States Capitol’s new underground visitors’ center, there is a secure room where the House Intelligence Committee maintains highly classified files. One of those files is titled “Finding, Discussion and Narrative Regarding Certain Sensitive National Security Matters.” It is twenty-eight pages long. In 2002, the Administration of George W. Bush excised those pages from the report of the Joint Congressional Inquiry into the 9/11 attacks. President Bush said then that publication of that section of the report would damage American intelligence operations, revealing “sources and methods that would make it harder for us to win the war on terror.”

“There’s nothing in it about national security,” Walter Jones, a Republican congressman from North Carolina who has read the missing pages, contends. “It’s about the Bush Administration and its relationship with the Saudis.” Stephen Lynch, a Massachusetts Democrat, told me that the document is “stunning in its clarity,” and that it offers direct evidence of complicity on the part of certain Saudi individuals and entities in Al Qaeda’s attack on America. “Those twenty-eight pages tell a story that has been completely removed from the 9/11 Report,” Lynch maintains. Another congressman who has read the document said that the evidence of Saudi government support for the 9/11 hijacking is “very disturbing,” and that “the real question is whether it was sanctioned at the royal-family level or beneath that, and whether these leads were followed through.” Now, in a rare example of bipartisanship, Jones and Lynch have co-sponsored a resolution requesting that the Obama Administration declassify the pages.
The Saudis have also publicly demanded that the material be released. “Twenty-eight blanked-out pages are being used by some to malign our country and our people,” Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who was the Saudi Ambassador to the United States at the time of the 9/11 attacks, has declared. “Saudi Arabia has nothing to hide. We can deal with questions in public, but we cannot respond to blank pages.”

The effort to declassify the document comes at a time when a lawsuit, brought ten years ago on behalf of the victims of the attacks and their families, along with the insurers who paid out claims, is advancing through the American court system. The suit targets Saudi charities, banks, and individuals. In 2005, the government of Saudi Arabia was dismissed from the suit on the ground of sovereign immunity, but in July the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the Kingdom as a defendant. The plaintiffs believe that the withheld twenty-eight pages will support their allegation that the 9/11 hijackers received direct assistance from Saudi government officials in the United States. According to representatives of the families of 9/11 victims, President Obama has twice promised to release the material but so far has failed to do so. “The redaction of the twenty-eight pages has become a coverup by two Presidents, and coverup implies complicity,” Sharon Premoli, who is co-chair of 9/11 Families United for Justice Against Terrorism, said. “The families and survivors have the right to know the whole truth about the brutal murder of three thousand loved ones and the injuries of thousands more.”

Those advocating declassification present a powerful and oftentimes emotional argument, but others offer compelling reasons that the document should remain buried under the Capitol. Immediately after the Joint Congressional Inquiry finished its report, in late 2002, the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States—better known as the 9/11 Commission—began its work, under the leadership of Thomas Kean, the former governor of New Jersey, and Lee Hamilton, a former congressman from Indiana. The questions raised by the twenty-eight pages were an important part of the commission’s agenda; indeed, its director, Philip Zelikow, hired staffers who had worked for the Joint Inquiry on that very section to follow up on the material. According to Zelikow, what they found does not substantiate the arguments made by the Joint Inquiry and by the 9/11 families in the lawsuit against the Saudis. He characterized the twenty-eight pages as “an agglomeration of preliminary, unvetted reports” concerning Saudi involvement. “They were wild accusations that needed to be checked out,” he said.

Zelikow and his staff were ultimately unable to prove any official Saudi complicity in the attacks. A former staff member of the 9/11 Commission who is intimately familiar with the material in the twenty-eight pages recommends against their declassification, warning that the release of inflammatory and speculative information could “ramp up passions” and damage U.S.-Saudi relations.

Stephen Lynch agrees that the twenty-eight pages were buried in order to preserve the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia. “Part of the reason it was classified was the fact that it would create a visceral response,” he told me. “There would be a backlash.” But, thirteen years later, is that still a reason to keep the document a secret?

Read more at The New Yorker

Also see:

Middle East Time Bomb: The Real Aim of ISIS Is to Replace the Saud Family as the New Emirs of Arabia

King AbdulladThis article is Part II of Alastair Crooke’s historical analysis of the roots of ISIS and its impact on the future of the Middle East.

BEIRUT — ISIS is indeed a veritable time bomb inserted into the heart of the Middle East. But its destructive power is not as commonly understood. It is not with the “March of the Beheaders”; it is not with the killings; the seizure of towns and villages; the harshest of “justice” — terrible though they are — that its true explosive power lies. It is yet more potent than its exponential pull on young Muslims, its huge arsenal of weapons and its hundreds of millions of dollars.

Its real potential for destruction lies elsewhere — in the implosion of Saudi Arabia as a foundation stone of the modern Middle East. We should understand that there is really almost nothing that the West can now do about it but sit and watch.

The clue to its truly explosive potential, as Saudi scholar Fouad Ibrahim has pointed out (but which has passed, almost wholly overlooked, or its significance has gone unnoticed), is ISIS’ deliberate and intentional use in its doctrine — of the language of Abd-al Wahhab, the 18th century founder, together with Ibn Saud, of Wahhabism and the Saudi project:

Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the first “prince of the faithful” in the Islamic State of Iraq, in 2006 formulated, for instance, the principles of his prospective state … Among its goals is disseminating monotheism “which is the purpose [for which humans were created] and [for which purpose they must be called] to Islam…” This language replicates exactly Abd-al Wahhab’s formulation. And, not surprisingly, the latter’s writings and Wahhabi commentaries on his works are widely distributed in the areas under ISIS’ control and are made the subject of study sessions. Baghdadi subsequently was to note approvingly, “a generation of young men [have been] trained based on the forgotten doctrine of loyalty and disavowal.”

And what is this “forgotten” tradition of “loyalty and disavowal?” It is Abd al-Wahhab’s doctrine that belief in a sole (for him an anthropomorphic) God — who was alone worthy of worship — was in itself insufficient to render man or woman a Muslim?

He or she could be no true believer, unless additionally, he or she actively denied (and destroyed) any other subject of worship. The list of such potential subjects of idolatrous worship, which al-Wahhab condemned as idolatry, was so extensive that almost all Muslims were at risk of falling under his definition of “unbelievers.” They therefore faced a choice: Either they convert to al-Wahhab’s vision of Islam — or be killed, and their wives, their children and physical property taken as the spoils of jihad. Even to express doubts about this doctrine, al-Wahhab said, should occasion execution.

The point Fuad Ibrahim is making, I believe, is not merely to reemphasize the extreme reductionism of al-Wahhab’s vision, but to hint at something entirely different: That through its intentional adoption of this Wahhabist language, ISIS is knowingly lighting the fuse to a bigger regional explosion — one that has a very real possibility of being ignited, and if it should succeed, will change the Middle East decisively.

For it was precisely this idealistic, puritan, proselytizing formulation by al-Wahhab that was “father” to the entire Saudi “project” (one that was violently suppressed by the Ottomans in 1818, but spectacularly resurrected in the 1920s, to become the Saudi Kingdom that we know today). But since its renaissance in the 1920s, the Saudi project has always carried within it, the “gene” of its own self-destruction.

Read more at Huffington Post

Also see Part I:

You Can’t Understand ISIS If You Don’t Know the History of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia

n-WAHHABISM-large570By Alastair Crooke, Fmr. MI-6 agent; Author, ‘Resistance: The Essence of Islamic Revolution':

BEIRUT — The dramatic arrival of Da’ish (ISIS) on the stage of Iraq has shocked many in the West. Many have been perplexed — and horrified — by its violence and its evident magnetism for Sunni youth. But more than this, they find Saudi Arabia’s ambivalence in the face of this manifestation both troubling and inexplicable, wondering, “Don’t the Saudis understand that ISIS threatens them, too?”

It appears — even now — that Saudi Arabia’s ruling elite is divided. Some applaud that ISIS is fighting Iranian Shiite “fire” with Sunni “fire”; that a new Sunni state is taking shape at the very heart of what they regard as a historical Sunni patrimony; and they are drawn by Da’ish’s strict Salafist ideology.

Other Saudis are more fearful, and recall the history of the revolt against Abd-al Aziz by the Wahhabist Ikhwan (Disclaimer: this Ikhwan has nothing to do with the Muslim Brotherhood Ikhwan — please note, all further references hereafter are to the Wahhabist Ikhwan, and not to the Muslim Brotherhood Ikhwan), but which nearly imploded Wahhabism and the al-Saud in the late 1920s.

Many Saudis are deeply disturbed by the radical doctrines of Da’ish (ISIS) — and are beginning to question some aspects of Saudi Arabia’s direction and discourse.

THE SAUDI DUALITY

Saudi Arabia’s internal discord and tensions over ISIS can only be understood by grasping the inherent (and persisting) duality that lies at the core of the Kingdom’s doctrinal makeup and its historical origins.

One dominant strand to the Saudi identity pertains directly to Muhammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhab (the founder of Wahhabism), and the use to which his radical, exclusionist puritanism was put by Ibn Saud. (The latter was then no more than a minor leader — amongst many — of continually sparring and raiding Bedouin tribes in the baking and desperately poor deserts of the Nejd.)

The second strand to this perplexing duality, relates precisely to King Abd-al Aziz’s subsequent shift towards statehood in the 1920s: his curbing of Ikhwani violence (in order to have diplomatic standing as a nation-state with Britain and America); his institutionalization of the original Wahhabist impulse — and the subsequent seizing of the opportunely surging petrodollar spigot in the 1970s, to channel the volatile Ikhwani current away from home towards export — by diffusing a cultural revolution, rather than violent revolution throughout the Muslim world.

But this “cultural revolution” was no docile reformism. It was a revolution based on Abd al-Wahhab’s Jacobin-like hatred for the putrescence and deviationism that he perceived all about him — hence his call to purge Islam of all its heresies and idolatries.

Read more at The Huffington Post

 

Saudis Must Stop Exporting Extremism

1534157424 (1)ISIS Atrocities Started With Saudi Support for Salafi Hate

New York Times, By

ALONG with a billion Muslims across the globe, I turn to Mecca in Saudi Arabia every day to say my prayers. But when I visit the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, the resting place of the Prophet Muhammad, I am forced to leave overwhelmed with anguish at the power of extremism running amok in Islam’s birthplace. Non-Muslims are forbidden to enter this part of the kingdom, so there is no international scrutiny of the ideas and practices that affect the 13 million Muslims who visit each year.

Last week, Saudi Arabia donated $100 million to the United Nations to fund a counterterrorism agency. This was a welcome contribution, but last year, Saudi Arabia rejected a rotating seat on the United Nations Security Council. This half-in, half-out posture of the Saudi kingdom is a reflection of its inner paralysis in dealing with Sunni Islamist radicalism: It wants to stop violence, but will not address the Salafism that helps justify it.

Let’s be clear: Al Qaeda, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Boko Haram, the Shabab and others are all violent Sunni Salafi groupings. For five decades, Saudi Arabia has been the official sponsor of Sunni Salafism across the globe.

Most Sunni Muslims around the world, approximately 90 percent of the Muslim population, are not Salafis. Salafism is seen as too rigid, too literalist, too detached from mainstream Islam. While Shiite and other denominations account for 10 percent of the total, Salafi adherents and other fundamentalists represent 3 percent of the world’s Muslims.

Unlike a majority of Sunnis, Salafis are evangelicals who wish to convert Muslims and others to their “purer” form of Islam — unpolluted, as they see it, by modernity. In this effort, they have been lavishly supported by the Saudi government, which has appointed emissaries to its embassies in Muslim countries who proselytize for Salafism. The kingdom also grants compliant imams V.I.P. access for the annual hajj, and bankrolls ultraconservative Islamic organizations like the Muslim World League and World Assembly of Muslim Youth.

After 9/11, under American pressure, much of this global financial support dried up, but the bastion of Salafism remains strong in the kingdom, enforcing the hard-line application of outdated Shariah punishments long abandoned by a majority of Muslims. Just since Aug. 4, 19 people have been beheaded in Saudi Arabia, nearly half for nonviolent crimes.

M_Id_364974_beheadingWe are rightly outraged at the beheading of James Foley by Islamist militants, and by ISIS’ other atrocities, but we overlook the public executions by beheading permitted by Saudi Arabia. By licensing such barbarity, the kingdom normalizes and indirectly encourages such punishments elsewhere. When the country that does so is the birthplace of Islam, that message resonates.

I lived in Saudi Arabia’s most liberal city, Jidda, in 2005. That year, in an effort to open closed Saudi Salafi minds, King Abdullah supported dialogue with people of other religions. In my mosque, the cleric used his Friday Prayer sermon to prohibit such dialogue on grounds that it put Islam on a par with “false religions.” It was a slippery slope to freedom, democracy and gender equality, he argued — corrupt practices of the infidel West.

This tension between the king and Salafi clerics is at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s inability to reform. The king is a modernizer, but he and his advisers do not wish to disturb the 270-year-old tribal pact between the House of Saud and the founder of Wahhabism (an austere form of Islam close to Salafism). That 1744 desert treaty must now be nullified.

The influence that clerics wield is unrivaled. Even Saudis’ Twitter heroes are religious figures: An extremist cleric like Muhammad al-Arifi, who was banned last year from the European Union for advocating wife-beating and hatred of Jews, commands a following of 9. 4 million. The kingdom is also patrolled by a religious police force that enforces the veil for women, prohibits young lovers from meeting and ensures that shops do not display “indecent” magazine covers. In the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, the religious police beat women with sticks if they stray into male-only areas, or if their dress is considered immodest by Salafi standards. This is not an Islam that the Prophet Muhammad would recognize.

Salafi intolerance has led to the destruction of Islamic heritage in Mecca and Medina. If ISIS is detonating shrines, it learned to do so from the precedent set in 1925 by the House of Saud with the Wahhabi-inspired demolition of 1,400-year-old tombs in the Jannat Al Baqi cemetery in Medina. In the last two years, violent Salafis have carried out similar sectarian vandalism, blowing up shrines from Libya to Pakistan, from Mali to Iraq. Fighters from Hezbollah have even entered Syria to protect holy sites.

Textbooks in Saudi Arabia’s schools and universities teach this brand of Islam. The University of Medina recruits students from around the world, trains them in the bigotry of Salafism and sends them to Muslim communities in places like the Balkans, Africa, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Egypt, where these Saudi-trained hard-liners work to eradicate the local, harmonious forms of Islam.

What is religious extremism but this aim to apply Shariah as state law? This is exactly what ISIS (Islamic State) is attempting do with its caliphate. Unless we challenge this un-Islamic, impractical and flawed concept of trying to govern by a rigid interpretation of Shariah, no amount of work by a United Nations agency can unravel Islamist terrorism.

Saudi Arabia created the monster that is Salafi terrorism. It cannot now outsource the slaying of this beast to the United Nations. It must address the theological and ideological roots of extremism at home, starting in Mecca and Medina. Reforming the home of Islam would be a giant step toward winning against extremism in this global battle of ideas.

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