The Saudi-Iran Rivalry and Sectarian Strife in South Asia

sunni-vs-shia

Iran and Saudi Arabia are recruiting and radicalizing local Muslim populations in Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan.

IPT, by Abha Shankar
The Diplomat
October 6, 2016

Note: This article originally was published at The Diplomat website.

Saudi Arabia’s ambivalent relationship to terrorism

House of Saud - House of Cards?

House of Saud – House of Cards?

Saudi Arabia is often accused of supporting jihadist groups. Now, the monarchy is helping Berlin’s security authorities in the fight against terror. What appears to be a contradiction is not.

DW, by Kersten Knipp, Aug. 8, 2016:

A jihadi inspired rampage in a regional train near Würzburg; and a bomb attack – designed to kill a large number of people but gone awry – in Ansbach: Both attacks were supposedly orchestrated by men in Saudi Arabia that gave the attackers instructions from afar, via chat.

That is the story the German magazine “Spiegel” is reporting in connection to chat protocols in the possession of federal agencies. The magazine also refers to information provided by a high-ranking government official in the Saudi capital Riyadh. According to the official, several telephone numbers show that the two young men were in close contact with the terrorist organization “Islamic State” (IS) in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government has now announced comprehensive cooperation with Germany in investigating the recent attacks in Bavaria.

For years, Saudi Arabia has been the source of what has appeared to be contradictory information. First, the country is accused of exporting an extremely conservative strain of Sunni Islam known as Wahhabism, which also happens to be the kingdom’s state religion. Shortly after the outbreak of war in Syria, accusations that the monarchy was financing jihadi groups that were not only seeking to topple the Assad government but also create a new “caliphate” under the control of the terror organization “Islamic State” (IS), grew louder. And finally, for years the West has considered Saudi Arabia to be an important partner in the fight against jihadist terror.

Dubious commitment

Sebastian Sons, Middle East expert at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP), tells DW that the news is not as contradictory as it initially seems. “The Saudi government has been involved in the fight against terror since the attacks on America in September 2001. That was partially a reaction to US pressure. But it was also because institutions in the kingdom were increasingly the target of jihadist attacks as well, first by al-Qaeda and later ‘IS.'”

At the same time there are a number of religious foundations in the country, and some of these, as well as a number of wealthy individuals, have great sympathy for the aims of “IS” and provide the organization with financing. “Such money transactions are now being very closely monitored.” Yet, there is no way to exert total control over them. “Firstly, Saudi Arabia doesn’t have the capacity to do so. And secondly, one has to say that there is serious doubt about whether they have the political will to do so.”

Nevertheless, even if the royal house had the will, it would be able to do little about it. Because the House of Saud, which has controlled the country since it was founded in the eighteenth century, is totally dependent upon the conservative Wahhabis. It is the religious movement that lends the Sauds the ideological legitimacy upon which their rule is based.

Alliance between religion and politics

The moral foundation for the rule of the Sauds was established by a religious scholar hailing from an area near what is now the capital Riyadh. Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, as the scholar was known, was born in 1703, the son of a judge.

Ibn Wahhab developed an entirely new criteria with which to judge the legitimacy of regional rulers. This legitimacy, he said, only existed as long as rulers abided by the tenets of religious faith. Political leaders, according to Wahhab, must comply to the will of god in all that they do. Should they fail to do so, they forfeit their legitimacy.

Thus, subjects were given a clear criteria with which to judge their rulers: Do their actions express the will of god, or not? It was a radically emancipating idea, yet it carried the seed of later abuses in it from the start: For who determines what god’s will is?

Ibn Wahhab came up with a unique solution to the problem: He directly tied religious power to political power. And he did so by seeking out an alliance with the most powerful partner of his day: Prince Saud l., ibn Abd al-Aziz ibn Muhammad al-Saud, the conquerer of the Emirate of Diriyah, the first Saudi state. The prince secured the theological power of his religious partner with his own military might. And in return, the legitimacy of his political rule received the scholar’s religious blessing.

The alliance between these two families, the ruling Sauds and the descendants of ibn-Wahhab responsible for answering all religious questions in the kingdom, has continued to hold until this day.

Unresolved dilemma

This alliance, by necessity, also determines the royal family’s current reaction to terror. “The royal family sees terrorism as an extreme security threat, but it still has to align itself with the Wahhabi scholars in terms of ideology,” says Sebastian Sons. This means that the monarchy is constantly forced to tolerate its – at times radical – world view. They rarely have the luxury of refusing to give their support. “The structure of the Saudi state is based upon the alliance between Wahhabi scholarship and the House of Saud. That is a unsolvable dilemma for the royal family, even today.”

That means that the rest of the world will have to live with the reality of more attacks being orchestrated from Saudi Arabia. As long as ideological extremism cannot be overcome, security measures can only help to a point.

A Saudi Morals Enforcer Called for a More Liberal Islam. Then the Death Threats Began.

Saudi women stand on the opposite side of the hallway from men at the American Express World Luxury Expo in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in March. An argument that much of what Saudis practiced as religion was in fact Arabian cultural practices that had been mixed up with Islam has drawn a sharp backlash. (Sergey Ponomarev/The New York Times)

Saudi women stand on the opposite side of the hallway from men at the American Express World Luxury Expo in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in March. An argument that much of what Saudis practiced as religion was in fact Arabian cultural practices that had been mixed up with Islam has drawn a sharp backlash. (Sergey Ponomarev/The New York Times)

New York Times, by Ben Hubbard, July 10, 2016:

JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia — For most of his adult life,  worked among the bearded enforcers of Saudi Arabia. He was a dedicated employee of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice — known abroad as the religious police — serving with the front-line troops protecting the Islamic kingdom from Westernization, secularism and anything but the most conservative Islamic practices.

Some of that resembled ordinary police work: busting drug dealers and bootleggers in a country where alcohol is banned. But the men of “The Commission,” as Saudis call it, spent most of their time maintaining the puritanical public norms that set Saudi Arabia apart not only from the West, but from most of the Muslim world.

A key offense was ikhtilat, or unauthorized mixing between men and women. The kingdom’s clerics warn that it could lead to fornication, adultery, broken homes, children born of unmarried couples and full-blown societal collapse.

For years, al-Ghamdi stuck with the program and was eventually put in charge of the commission for the region of Mecca, Islam’s holiest city. Then he had a reckoning and began to question the rules. So he turned to the Quran and the stories of the Prophet Muhammad and his companions, considered the exemplars of Islamic conduct. What he found was striking and life altering: There had been plenty of mixing among the first generation of Muslims, and no one had seemed to mind.

So he spoke out. In articles and television appearances, he argued that much of what Saudis practiced as religion was in fact Arabian cultural practices that had been mixed up with their faith.

There was no need to close shops for prayer, he said, nor to bar women from driving, as Saudi Arabia does. At the time of the Prophet, women rode around on camels, which he said was far more provocative than veiled women piloting SUVs.

He even said women had to cover only their faces if they chose to. And to demonstrate the depth of his own conviction, al-Ghamdi went on television with his wife, Jawahir, who smiled to the camera, her face bare and adorned with a dusting of makeup.

It was like a bomb inside the kingdom’s religious establishment, threatening the social order that granted prominence to the sheikhs and made them the arbiters of right and wrong in all aspects of life. He threatened their control.

Al-Ghamdi’s colleagues at work refused to speak to him. Angry calls poured into his cellphone and anonymous death threats hit him on Twitter. Prominent sheikhs took to the airwaves to denounce him as an ignorant upstart who should be punished, tried — and even tortured.

In an undated handout photo, Ahmed Qassim al-Ghamdi and his wife, Jawahir, appear on TV. (Handout via The New York Times)

In an undated handout photo, Ahmed Qassim al-Ghamdi and his wife, Jawahir, appear on TV. (Handout via The New York Times)

For the Western visitor, Saudi Arabia is a baffling mix of modern urbanism, desert culture and the never-ending effort to adhere to a rigid interpretation of scriptures that are more than 1,000 years old. It is a kingdom flooded with oil wealth, skyscrapers, SUVs and shopping malls, where questions about how to invest money and interact with non-Muslims are answered with quotes from the Quran or stories about the Prophet Muhammad.

The primacy of Islam in Saudi life has led to a huge religious sphere that extends beyond the state’s official clerics. Public life is filled with celebrity sheikhs whose moves, comments and conflicts Saudis track just as Americans follow Hollywood actors. In the kingdom’s hyperwired society, they compete for followers on Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat. The grand mufti, the state’s highest religious official, has a regular television show, too.

For Saudis, trying to navigate what is permitted, “halal,” and what is not, “haram,” can be challenging. So they turn to clerics for fatwas, or nonbinding religious rulings. While some may get a lot of attention — as when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran called for killing author Salman Rushdie — most concern the details of religious practice.

Al-Ghamdi, 51, said the world of sheikhs, fatwas and the meticulous application of religion to everything had defined his life.

But that world — his world — had frozen him out.

As a new member of the commission in Jiddah, al-Ghamdi had felt that he found a job that was consistent with his religious convictions. Over the course of a few years, he transferred to Mecca and cycled through different positions.

But he developed reservations about how the force worked. His colleagues’ religious zeal sometimes led them to overreact, breaking into people’s homes or humiliating detainees.

“Let’s say someone drank alcohol,” he said. “That does not represent an attack on the religion, but they exaggerated in how they treated people.”

In 2005, the head of the commission for the Mecca region died and al-Ghamdi was promoted. It was a big job, with some 90 stations throughout a large, diverse area containing Islam’s holiest sites. He did his best to keep up, while worrying that the commission’s focus was misguided.

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After Mideast, will the Saudi-Wahhabi nexus destabilize East Asia?

on JUNE 15, 2016 in

Southeast Asia’s youths are getting radicalized as Saudi Arabia is pouring money for the spread Wahhabism, a fundamental Sunni school of Islam, in the region. If the U.S. is serious about counter-terrorism, it should break the Saudi-Wahhabi nexus by dismantling the religious-industrial complex of Saudi-funded mosques and madrassas that serve as jihad factories producing suicide bombers from Africa to Europe and now Asia.      

Professor Brahma Chellaney from India’s Center for Policy Research has sound advice for the next American president regarding US militarized approach to fighting terrorism.

In a December 2015 article entitled “Saudi Arabia’s Phony War on Terror”, Chellaney pointed to the Wahhabi ideology, “a messianic, jihad-extolling form of Sunni fundamentalism” as the root cause of global terrorism.

He warned that unless expansion of Wahhabism is arrested, the global war on terror is ineffective. ‘No matter how many bombs the US and its allies drop, the Saudi-financed madrassas will continue to indoctrinate tomorrow’s jihadists.[1]

After two years of bombing campaign, Pentagon officials reveal US is now running out of bombs to drop on Islamic State (IS).[2] And the Saudi-Wahhabi nexus continues to indoctrinate new jihadists — now in East Asia.

Southeast Asia next jihadi battleground

 In May, Malaysia shocked the world when Prime Minister Najib Razak’s government threw its support behind hudud, the 7th century shaira law that includes amputations and stonings, threatening the hitherto democratic and multi-ethnic country.[3] Razak received a $681 million gift from Saudi Arabia in April.[4]

Calling it the “Saudization of Southeast Asia”, retired Malaysian diplomat Dennis Ignatius back in March 2015 had warned the Saudi-Wahhabi nexus “is the greatest single threat to peace and stability in the world today.”[5]

Ignatius noted how over the years, Riyadh built up a significant cadre of Wahhabi-trained academics, preachers and teachers across the region. They act as “lobby groups agitating for greater Islamization, demanding the imposition of Shaira law, pushing for stricter controls of other faiths, and working behind the scenes to influence official policy and shape pubic opinion.”

As a result, this “culture of intolerance, hate and violence” that permeates so much of the Middle East is now manifesting in Southeast Asia, with young Muslims from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Philippines gravitating to Syrian jihad.  In the face of Saudi-sponsored proliferation of extremism, Ignatius predicts Southeast Asia would be the next jihadi battleground.

Indeed Jakarta has already suffered IS and Al Qaeda attacks, and various Wahhabi sect jihadi groups now plague Southeast Asia.[6]

Will US continue to shelter the Saudi-Wahhabi nexus?

 Ironically, the Saudi-Wahhabi nexus is enabled and shielded by the US security umbrella with Washington purporting to be a leader of global counter-terrorism efforts.

However, from the Asian perspective, Wahhabism is the root cause of terrorism in the West and now in Asia. With Washington’s support for the Saudi-Wahhabi nexus being partly accountable for this scourge, it has severely downgraded the legitimacy of US as a leader in counter-terrorism.[7]

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Dr. Sebastian Gorka: ‘Potentially Some Very Embarrassing Things’ For Saudi Government In 9/11 Documents

SETH MCALLISTER/AFP/Getty Images

SETH MCALLISTER/AFP/Getty Images

Breitbart, by John  Hayward, April 18, 2016:

Dr. Sebastian Gorka, national security editor for Breitbart Newsand author of the new book Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War,tells host Stephen K. Bannon on Breitbart News Daily about tensions with Saudi Arabia, as pressure to declassify the Saudi-related “28 Pages” of 9/11 documents from the Senate Intelligence Committee report grows.

Gorka explained that the backstory to Saudi involvement in 9/11 began with “the siege of Mecca in 1979, and the deal that was cut between the Royal Family and the radical clerics that helped facilitate that jihadi attack on the Grand Mosque of Mecca.”

“For the next twenty years, elements of the government were deep into the export of jihadi ideology,” he continued.

Gorka recalled how the nation of Saudi Arabia was created “in a deal between the House of Saud and a man called ibn Wahab, who was a fundamentalist preacher, a cleric of Islam.” He said no one should be surprised by the continuing influence of fundamentalist Islam and jihadi ideology on Saudi politics – an influence likely to be spotlighted by those 28 pages of classified documents.

“I think what we’re going to find, if we ever see those 28 pages, is even if there wasn’t a systematic, holistic Saudi involvement in the 9/11 attacks, we will find – and we’ve seen already, in the unclassified domain – there are connections between at least two of the hijackers and the Saudi embassy in Washington,” said Gorka. “So there are potentially some very embarrassing things in those 28 pages.”

Bannon noted the Saudis appear to be very apprehensive about the possible exposure of those documents, and legislation that would make Saudi officials vulnerable to lawsuits by 9/11 families, citing a story from the weekend about Saudi threats to sell off $750 billion in U.S. Treasury securities if the 9/11 bill is passed – a move that could destabilize the dollar and throw global markets into turmoil.

Gorka said he was not surprised by this threatening behavior from our “schizophrenic” ally, although he was a little surprised by “how unsubtle a move this is,” combined with equally heavy-handed attempts by the Saudis to put pressure on the United States through OPEC.

“There must be something that’s very potentially damaging – otherwise, why would you even make such a noise publicly?” he wondered. “So I think that they’re at a crescendo point, with regards to their reputation internationally.  Remember, this is not a good time to be Saudi Arabia. If you look at what’s happening in the region, if you look at the rise of Iran’s power, the collapse of Sanaa in Yemen to the Shia, this is scary time, if you want to keep your royal privileges intact on the Arabian continent.”

Gorka said it was unfortunate that Western media underestimated the importance of the 1979 jihadi siege of the Grand Mosque, and the connections it established between the Saudi monarchy and fundamentalist Islam, because it was difficult for Western citizens to look past the official line on Saudi Arabia’s conduct without knowing its history. He attributed this ignorance to the “short attention span” of the media, even decades before the rise of social media, causing the Grand Mosque siege to be eclipsed in importance by other major events of the era.

“The siege of Mecca is the beginning of when the jihadi movement of the 20th Century goes global – in part thanks to the Saudi regime, or elements within the Saudi regime,” Gorka said.

Breitbart News Daily airs on SiriusXM Patriot 125 weekdays from 6:00AM to 9:00AM EST.

You can listen to the full interview with Dr. Sebastian Gorka below:

Also see:

ISIS, Saudi Arabia, Iran and the West

The famous photograph of Abdulaziz ibn Saud meeting with President Franklin Roosevelt in February 1945 aboard the U.S.S. Quincy symbolizes the incongruity of the Saudi-American "special relationship." (Image source: U.S. Navy)

The famous photograph of Abdulaziz ibn Saud meeting with President Franklin Roosevelt in February 1945 aboard the U.S.S. Quincy symbolizes the incongruity of the Saudi-American “special relationship.” (Image source: U.S. Navy)

Gatestone Institute, by Salim Mansur, June 14, 2015:

  • What principally mattered in accepting Christian support was whether such support served the followers of Islam in spreading the faith. The same thing could also apply to an alliance with the Jews and Israel in defending Saudi interests.
  • In the age of totalitarianism — which in the last century flourished under the various headings of Marxism-Leninism, Stalinism, Hitler’s National Socialism and Maoism — Hasan al-Banna and Sayyid Qutb added Islamism. Shariah, as God’s law, in covering and monitoring every detail of human conduct, as Qutb insisted, is total; its enforcement through jihad made for an ideology — Islamism — consistent with the temperament of the totalitarian era.
  • American support in the reconstruction of Germany and Japan after 1945 was crucial. The transformation of imperial and militaristic Japan into a peaceful democracy was testimony to how American support can make for a better world. In the Korean Peninsula, American troops have held the line between the North and South since the end of the Korean War in 1953; this has made the vital difference in turning South Korea into a democracy and an advanced industrial society.

In a hard-hitting essay on ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) for The Daily Mail, the 2001 Nobel Prize winning author, V.S. Naipaul, wrote: “ISIS could very credibly abandon the label of Caliphate and call itself the Fourth Reich.” Among the writings on Islam and Muslims in recent years, Naipaul’s, as in the books Among the Believers and Beyond Belief, have been perhaps the most incisive and penetrating in exploring the extremist politics of the global Islamist movement from inside of the Muslim world. And that ISIS on a rampage, as Naipaul observed, revived “religious dogmas and deadly rivalries between Sunnis and Shi’as, Sunnis and Jews and Christians is a giant step into darkness.”

Ever since the relatively obscure Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi stepped forth on the pulpit of the Great Mosque in Mosul, Iraq, on June 28, 2014 to announce the rebirth of the Caliphate (abolished in 1924 by the Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk), with al-Baghdadi himself assuming the title of Caliph Ibrahim, the ruling head of the ummah, or worldwide community of Muslims, many might agree with Naipaul, despite the hyperbole — he has left out a potentially nuclear Iran — that “ISIS has to be seen as the most potent threat to the world since the Third Reich.”

It is baffling to read about or watch the sweep of terror spawned by ISIS in the name of Islam — a world religion with a following approaching two billion Muslims. It is insufficient merely to point out that the barbarism of ISIS reflects its origins in the fetid swamps of the Sunni Muslim insurgency of post-Saddam Iraq. But ISIS is neither a new presence in the Arab-Muslim history, nor is the response to it by Western powers, primarily Britain and the United States, given their relationship with the Middle East over the past century.

We have seen ISISes before, and not as al-Qaeda’s second coming.

The first successful appearance of an ISIS in modern times was the whirlwind with which the Bedouin warriors of Abdulaziz ibn Saud (1876-1953) emerged from the interior of the Arabian Desert in 1902 to take hold of the main fortress in Riyadh, the local capital of the surrounding region known as Najd. Some twenty-four years later, this desert warrior-chief and his armies of Bedouin raiders defeated the ruling Sharifian house in the coastal province of Hejaz, where lie Islam’s two holy cities, Mecca and Medina.

Husayn bin Ali (1854-1931), Sharif of Mecca and Emir of Hejaz, had joined his fate with the British against the Ottoman Empire during World War I. One of his sons, Prince Feisal, led the “Arab Revolt” for independence from Ottoman rule made famous by T.E. Lawrence (1888-1935). But in the aftermath of the Great War, which brought the Ottoman Empire to its ruin, Bedouin tribes in the interior of the Arabian Desert were jostling for power, and the House of Sharif Husayn proved inept at maintaining its own against threats posed to its rule over Hejaz, and as the khadim [steward] of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

Another Englishman, a counterpart to T.E. Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”), was Harry St. John Philby (1885-1960), sent as a British agent during the Great War into the interior of the Arabian Desert. Philby would get to know Abdulaziz ibn Saud; eventually he worked for Ibn Saud as the warrior-chief rose in power and prominence. Philby chronicled the emergence of Abdulaziz ibn Saud as “the greatest of all the kings of Arabia,” and wrote the history of Ibn Saud’s tribe and people under the title Arabia of the Wahhabis. In the West, ironically, Philby is better known as the father of Kim Philby, the Soviet double agent, instead of the confidant of the founder of modern Saudi Arabia. Philby apparently became Muslim, took the name of Abdullah, and lived among the Arabs.

The defeat of the Sharifian forces in Hejaz in 1925 cleared the path for Abdulaziz ibn Saud’s eventual triumph in creating the eponymous Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The fall of Mecca to the Bedouin warriors known as the Ikhwan, or the Brethren (to be distinguished from the movement known as Ikhwan al-Muslimin [Muslim Brotherhood] founded by the Egyptian Hasan al-Banna in 1928), ended the ambition of Sharif Husayn and his sons to rule Arabia with the support of the British. The Sharifian defeat also meant that Britain would not have to referee the conflict between two of its allies — Sharif Husayn and his sons on one side, and Abdulaziz ibn Saud and his Ikhwan warriors on the other — competing for mastery over Arabia.

Philby’s loyalty to Abdulaziz ibn Saud restrained him from mentioning the terror and havocIkhwan warriors perpetrated in the occupation of Hejaz and the capture of Mecca and Medina.[1]But he was effusive in describing what he viewed as the renewal of Islam’s original revolution in the desert soil of its birth. He became the premier salesman of Abdulaziz ibn Saud and his family to the outside world, as T.E. Lawrence was of Prince Feisal and the Sharifian claims to rule the Arabs.[2] Philby wrote,

“Ibn Sa’ud made it clear from the beginning that he would tolerate no criticism of or interference with God’s law on earth… On Friday, January 8th, 1926, in the Great Mosque of Mecca after the congregational prayers, Ibn Sa’ud was proclaimed King of the Hijaz with all the traditional ceremony prescribed by Islamic precedent. It was at once an act of faith and a challenge to the world: to be made good in due course, without deviation from the principle on which it was based, to the glory of God, of whose sustaining hand he was ever conscious amid all the vicissitudes of good and evil fortune, which in the long years to come were to lead his people, under his guidance, out of the wilderness into a promised land flowing with milk and honey. The great fight, of four and twenty years almost to the day, was over; and a greater span, by nearly four years, yet lay before him to develop the fruits of victory for the benefit of generations yet unborn: generations which ‘knew not Joseph’, nor ever heard the war-cry of the Ikhwan.”[3]

ii.

The objective of the ISIS is apparently to remake the map of the Middle East, which was drawn by Britain and France as victorious powers in World War I, following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1918. The goal is to unite the Fertile Crescent — the region between the eastern Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf — under the newly resurrected Caliphate’s rule, where “God’s law” will rule without anyone’s interference — much Saudi Arabia’s founder, Abdulaziz ibn Saud, announced in 1926 on entering Mecca.

ISIS’s self-proclaimed leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in announcing the re-establishment of the Caliphate, have set for ISIS a hugely ambitious program, even if it seems anachronistic for Muslims in the twenty-first century.

But ISIS’s gamble to engineer the creation of the Caliphate and obliterate the post-WWI settlement is not entirely far-fetched when considered in the context of the making of Saudi Arabia.

There is also the shared doctrine of the Wahhabi-Salafi interpretation of Islam, which Abdulaziz ibn Saud insisted, and ISIS insists, is the only true Islam; all other versions and sects of Islam among Muslims are denounced as heresy or, worse, as apostasy, to be violently punished.

The collapse of the Ottoman Empire let loose forces in the Middle East, some of which were contained by Britain and France, as victorious powers, in accordance with their Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916.

In the Arabian Peninsula, Britain kept in check the forces let loose, preventing their spillover into the Fertile Crescent, until one coalition of Bedouin warriors led by Abdulaziz ibn Saud emerged as clear winner over the territories previously held by Turkey in the Fertile Crescent.

The deep forbidding interior of the Arabian Peninsula consists of the highlands and desert of Najd, far removed from what were once the major centers of the Islamic civilization at its peak. Inhabited by Bedouin tribes, deeply conservative in their customs and manner of living, and disapproving of the ways of the outside world, Najd was a primitive backwater of the Middle East and was left on its own.

The emergence of Abdulaziz ibn Saud as the ruler of Najd and Hejaz in the 1920s, and then as the monarch of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia under the watchful eyes of Britain as the hegemonic power in the Middle East after the World War I, was not merely the result of one coalition of Bedouin tribes trouncing its opponents for the spoils of war. It was also the victory of a doctrine — of Wahhabism,[4] to which Abdulaziz ibn Saud was wedded as a legacy of his family and tribal history, and which provided the religious and ideological legitimacy for the so-called “conservative revolution” or the Wahhabi version of Islamic “reform” he heralded in establishing his kingdom.

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Saudis Plan Tourist Venue Where Foundation of Radical Ideology Was Formed

Al-Diriyah-on-the-northwestern-outskirts-of-Riyadh.-APHassan-Ammar-640x480Breitbart, by Jordan Schachtel, June 1, 2015:

Saudi Arabia plans to turn the birthplace of Wahhabism–just outside the capital city of Riyadh–into a tourist destination filled with entertainment, historic exhibits, parks, and restaurants.

Wahhabism, the radical Islamic ideology that is promulgated worldwide through Saudi influence and the dominant philosophy of Saudi Arabia, was founded over 250 years ago in the village of Diriyah, thanks to an alliance between the Saudi royal family and a radical cleric, according to the New York Times.

In Diriyah, the House of Saud inked an alliance with Sheikh Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhab, who would be allowed to preach his radical jihadist ideology in exchange for a guarantee that the Saudi royal family would be allowed to stay in power. Tow-hundred-and-fifty years later, the treaty between the radical Islamists and the Saudi royalty remains in place.

Al-Wahhab’s Wahhabism preaches a puritanical version of Islam. Supporters describe the ideology as “pure Islam” that is perfectly compliant with Sharia law.

Critics of Wahhabism have noted that the group’s adherents tend to support worldwide terrorist movements across the globe. Some allege that Wahabi officials and clerics are responsible for fostering ideological support for jihadist groups and bankrolling outfits such as ISIS and Al Qaeda.

Former CIA Director James Woolsey has said of Wahhabism:

Those who direct Saudi Arabia’s state religion, the Wahhabi sect of Islam, loathe Christians, Jews, other Muslims, modernity, decency toward women, and freedom itself. The Saudi establishment has accepted a Faustian bargain, buying protection for itself by financing the spread of Wahhabi hatred around the world.

Nonetheless, the Saudis are following through with the tourist venue, which will be “filled with parks restaurants, and coffee shops,” the Times reports. “Nearby stands a sleek structure that will house a foundation dedicated to the sheikh [Al-Wahhab] and his mission,” the report adds.

The man in charge of the project, Abdullah Arrakban of the High Commission for the Development of Riyadh, said in support of the Wahhabi tourist venue, “It is important for Saudis who are living now, in this century, to know that the state came from a specific place that has been preserved and that it was built on an idea, a true, correct and tolerant ideology that respected others.”

More whitewashing: