Uniting to Exclude Saudi Arabian Airlines

Uniting to Exclude Saudi Arabian Airlines

By Daniel Pipes
FrontPageMagazine.com | 8/22/2007

Saudi Arabian Airlines (known as Saudia) declares on its English-language website that the kingdom bans “Bibles, crucifixes, statues, carvings, items with religious symbols such as the Star of David.” Until the Saudi government changes this detestable policy, its airline should be disallowed from flying into Western airports.Michael Freund brought this regulation to international attention in a recent Jerusalem Post article, “Saudis might take Bibles from tourists,” in which he points out that a section on the Saudia Web site, “Customs Regulations,” lists the forbidden articles above under the rubric “Items and articles belonging to religions other than Islam.”

Freund followed up by calling the Saudia office in New York, where an employee identified only as “Gladys” confirmed that this rule really is applied. “Yes, sir, that is what we have heard, that it is a problem to bring these things into Saudi Arabia, so you cannot do it.” An unnamed official at the Saudi consulate in New York further confirmed the regulation. “You are not allowed to bring that stuff into the kingdom. If you do, they will take it away. If it is really important to you, then you can try to bring it and just see what happens, but I don’t recommend that you do so.”

Responding to the Saudi ban on churches and Bibles and Stars of David, some would ban mosques, Korans, and crescent moons in the West, but that is clearly untenable and unenforceable, given the freedoms of speech and worship. The Koran, for example, is not a Saudi artifact and cannot be held hostage to Saudi policies. However closely it identifies with Islam, the Saudi government does not own the religion.

Further, as Stephen Schwartz of the Center for Islamic Pluralism points out, signs in Saudi airports warn Muslim travelers that the airport’s mutawwa’in, or religious police, confiscate Korans, other Islamic literature, and Muslim objects of non-Saudi origin. While discriminating specifically against Shiites and Ahmadis, this policy manifests a wider insistence on Wahhabi supremacism. More broadly, the Saudi leadership runs a country that the American government has condemned repeatedly as having “no religious freedom” and being among the most religiously repressive in the world.

Saudia is probably the only civilian airline whose logo includes swords.

Saudia, the state-owned national carrier and its portal to the world, offers a pressure point for change. To take advantage of this vulnerability, Western governments should demand that unless the Saudi government at least permits “that stuff” in, Saudia faces exclusion from the 18 airports it presently services in Europe, North America, and Japan. If those routes were shut down, Riyadh will face a tough choice:

  • Ignore this action: Allowing Western airlines to service Saudi Arabia without reciprocity would presumably be too great a humiliation for the monarchy to abide.
  • Cut off the Western airlines in return: Cutting off the Western airlines would unacceptably isolate Saudis from major markets and premier destinations.
  • Permit non-Wahhabi religious items: That leaves the Saudis no choice but to accept the import of “Bibles, crucifixes, statues, carvings, items with religious symbols such as the Star of David.” Further, once these materials are allowed, other benefits would likely follow, such as permitting non-Islamic religious buildings and services in the kingdom for the millions of non-Muslims who live there. Muslims who reject the Wahhabi interpretation of Islam would also eventually benefit from this loosening.

Such joint action also sends a long-overdue signal to the despots of Riyadh – that Westerners have thrown off their servile obeisance to their writ. Who will be first to act? Which national government or municipality will arise from the customary dhimmi posture and ban Saudia (slogan: “We aim to please you”) from its runways, thereby compelling the kingdom to permit infidel religious items, monotheistic and polytheistic alike, into its territory? Where are you Athens, Frankfurt, Geneva, Houston, London, Madrid, Málaga, Manchester, Milan, Munich, New York, Nice, Osaka, Paris, Prague, Rome, Vienna, and Washington, D.C.?

If no government acts, what about a delegation of Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and others boarding a Saudia flight with much publicity, openly displaying their religious artifacts, daring the airline to confiscate these? Or which public service law firm in those eleven countries will bring local human rights suits against Saudia as an arm of the Saudi government?

This issue provides an opportunity for left and right to unite against radical Islam. Who will take the lead to confront Saudi discrimination, arrogance, and repression?



Mr. Pipes (www.DanielPipes.org) is director of the Middle East Forum and author of Miniatures (Transaction Publishers).

Saudis might take Bibles from tourists

Saudis might take Bibles from tourists

What a lovely tourist spot. Islamic Tolerance Alert. By Michael Freund in the Jerusalem Post (thanks to all who sent this in):

Despite a series of initiatives aimed at generating foreign tourism, the Saudi Arabian government continues to bar Jews and Christians from bringing items such as Bibles, crucifixes and Stars of David into the country and is threatening to confiscate them on sight, The Jerusalem Post has learned.”A number of items are not allowed to be brought into the kingdom due to religious reasons and local regulations,” declares the Web site of Saudi Arabian Airlines, the country’s national carrier.

After informing would-be visitors that items such as narcotics, firearms and pornography may not be transported into the country, the Web site adds: “Items and articles belonging to religions other than Islam are also prohibited. These may include Bibles, crucifixes, statues, carvings, items with religious symbols such as the Star of David, and others.”

Contacted by the Post, an employee of Saudi Arabian Airlines in New York, who would only give her name as Gladys, confirmed this rule was in force. “Yes, sir,” she said, “that is what we have heard, that it is a problem to bring these things into Saudi Arabia, so you cannot do it.”

An official at the Saudi Consulate in New York, who declined to give her name, told the Post that anyone bringing a Bible into the country or wearing a crucifix or Star of David around their neck would run into trouble with Saudi authorities.

“You are not allowed to bring that stuff into the kingdom,” the consular official said. “If you do, they will take it away,” she warned, adding, “If it is really important to you, then you can try to bring it and just see what happens, but I don’t recommend that you do so.”

The Sickness That Is Wahhabi Islam

The Sickness That Is Wahhabi Islam
Adrian Morgan
Author: Adrian Morgan
Source: The Family Security Foundation, Inc.
Date: August 8, 2007

Wahhabism, a strict and primitive form of Islam, is the rule of law in rich and influential Saudi Arabia. FSM Contributing Editor Adrian Morgan gives us an enlightening tutorial on its history, as well as some of the more alarming practices of this growing sect. 

The Sickness That Is Wahhabi Islam

By Adrian Morgan

Background and History

 

The kingdom of Saudi Arabia officially came into existence in 1932. The Al Saud clan, led by Abdul Aziz bin Saud (c. 1880 – 1953), had by this time gained total control of the region formerly known as Arabia. The process of forcing rival clans into submission began at the start of the 20th century. Aziz was supported by members of a movement called the Ikhwan, or Brotherhood. Aziz founded the Ikhwan from disparate Bedouin tribesmen in 1912. These religious fanatics shared the same brand of fundamentalist faith as Aziz, but they later objected to the clan leader’s alliance with the British “Christians.” Eventually, the relations between the Ikhwan and Aziz soured, and by 1930 the future monarch had annihilated them as a force.

The Ikhwan followed the branch of Islam known as Wahhabism. This intolerant and extremist ideology had been formulated by Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703-1792). Wahhab had been forced to flee from Medina, and he found protection in the person of Abdul Aziz’s ancestor, Muhammad Ibn Saud, in 1744. At this time, the al-Saud family was based at the town of As-Dariyah in Najd region, near Riyadh. Wahhab’s philosophy was derived directly from Ibn Taymiyyah: worship at shrines was considered forbidden, leading to a ban on tomb markers. Anyone who did not conform to Wahhab’s strict interpretation was a heretic, and deserved to be killed. Like Ibn Taymiyyah, Wahhab saw any “innovations” (bida) in Islam to be heretical. For the theologians of Al Azhar University in Egypt, the ideology of Wahhab was primitive.

Muhammad Ibn Saud was given religious “legitimacy” as a ruler over Najd by his association with Wahhab. By the time he died in 1765, the family which had developed as olive grove owners in the 16th century was as powerful as any other tribal group in Arabia. Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab was virulently opposed to the Shi’a branch of Islam, and condemned their pilgrimages to shrines of their saints. After his death, his followers (who called themselves muwahiddun or “unitarians”) seized the Iraqi Shiite city of Karbala in 1802, where they destroyed the shrine of Imam Husain. The following year, they took control of Mecca, prompting the Ottoman Caliphate to send a force to reclaim the holy city.

 

In 1891, the Al-Saud family was driven out of Arabia by their rivals from the Rashidi clan, who took control of Riyadh and its environs. The al-Sauds took up residence in Kuwait until January 15-16, 1902, when Abdul Aziz bin Saud and his supporters drove out the Rashidis from Riyadh. The Rashidis remained powerful, supported by the Ottomans and by Turkey. In 1921, assisted by his camel-riding Bedouin followers of the Ikhwan, Abdul Aziz forced the Rashidis into submission, followed by an alliance.

British meddling in Middle Eastern politics had seen two Hashemite brothers placed as rulers in Iraq and Transjordan in 1921. The Hashemites claim descent from Mohammed, and since the 10th century, the ruler (sharif) of Mecca was traditionally a Hashemite. Since 1916, Sharif Hussein ibn Ali, supporting British interests, declared Hejaz (the northwest of Arabia along the Red Sea, comprising Jeddah, Mecca and Medina) to be independent of the Ottoman Turks. Sharif Hussein ibn Ali’s son ‘Abd Allah was king of Transjordan and his brother Faysal was king of Iraq. In March 1924 Sharif Hussein declared himself “Caliph”, shortly after the Ottoman Caliphate was abolished on the 3rd of that month. By September 1924, Abdul Aziz bin Saud and the Ikhwan took control of Mecca, leading Sharif Hussein ibn Ali to abdicate on October 5th and go into exile.

Control of the Hashemite region of Hejaz led the Ikhwan to go north to Transjordan in 1924, to claim that territory for themselves. The British, though allied to and financing Abdul Aziz bin Saud, met the Ikhwan with force, leaving alive only eight from a legion of 1,500. The Wahabbists objected to minarets, dancing and music. In 1921 Winston Churchill had warned the U.K. parliament of the extremism of the Wahhabists, saying: “Austere, intolerant, well-armed, and blood-thirsty, in their own regions the Wahhabis are a distinct factor which must be taken into account, and they have been, and still are, very dangerous to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.”

 

In June 1926, the Ikhwan attacked a traditional procession called the mahmal. 25 people and 40 camels died. The mahmal involved a caravan procession carrying ornate curtains from Egypt to Mecca, where these drapes were placed on the Kaaba shrine during the Hajj pilgrimage. According to Abdul Aziz bin Saud, the violence occurred when members of the procession had sounded trumpets in the vicinity of a “holy place.” Bin Saud had earlier tried to prevent the mahmal taking place.

From 1926 onwards, the Ikhwan staged minor revolts against Abdul Aziz, and one faction even tried to destroy the Kaaba at Mecca. In 1929, antagonism between Abdul Aziz bin Saud and the Ikhwan led to a showdown. The religious authorities supported the King, and he crushed the Ikhwan. He set up a National Guard, and in 1932 announced himself king of Saudi Arabia. He had named the entire region of Arabia after his clan.

Vandalism In The Name of Allah

In 1924, the Wahhabis had begun a campaign of destruction of graves of Muslim saints and imams. Even the tomb of Mohammed’s daughter Fatima, from whose lineage the Mahdi (Messiah) will be born, was destroyed. The Ikhwan had even tried to desecrate the tomb of Mohammed, but had been restrained by the Al Saud chief. Under the rule of King Abdul Aziz and his descendants, the destruction of religious sites has been accelerating up to the present day. Over the past two decades, according to the Gulf Institute, 95% of the ancient buildings of Mecca have been demolished. Dr Sami Angawi, a Saudi architect, claims that now there are only 20 buildings which remain from the time of Mohammed.

The tomb of Mohammed is in Medina. In the 1950s, the Saudi establishment decided to build a library over the grave site. The architect gained a compromise, by allowing the tomb to remain beneath the library. The authorities intend the tomb to be concreted over and made into a car park. In 1998, the tomb of Mohammed’s mother, Amina bint Wahb, was bulldozed and razed to the ground. The house of Khadija, Mohammed’s wife, is no longer standing. It has been replaced with public toilets. The house of Abu Bakr, the first Caliph and father of Mohammed’s last wife Aisha, has vanished under the foundations of a Hilton hotel.

 

Even the cave where Mohammed is said to have received his first revelations, at the Al Nour Mountain, is being considered for demolition. Prince Turki al-Faisal wrote in response to a 2005 newspaper article condemning such destruction that Saudi Arabia was spending more than $19 billion preserving the heritage of Mecca and Medina: “[We are aware] how important the preservation of this heritage is, not just to us but to the millions of Muslims from around the world who visit the two holy mosques every year. It is hardly something we are going to allow to be destroyed.”

The Grand Mosque of Mecca is now becoming dwarfed by high-rise construction projects, including the Zam Zam tower, being built by the Bin Laden family. A religious ideology that can render its own heritage obsolete, in case pilgrimage (classed as “shirk” or “polytheism”) takes place, is destructive and anti-cultural. The tribe of Al Saud spreads this ideology around the world, funding madrassas and schools. The human beings who live under the intransigent rule of Wahhabism are denied some of the basic rights we take for granted in the West.

 Abuse In The Name Of Allah

Saudi Arabia exports its Wahhabist ideology around the world. In 2005, Prince Alaweed bin-Talal made $20 million grants to the US universities of Georgetown and Harvard to promote “Muslim-Christian understanding”, yet there is no such tolerance of any other faith within Saudi Arabia. No Bibles or crucifixes can be brought in by visitors, and holding Christian religious services can lead to imprisonment.

 

Since 1926, the Wahhabists have had mutawi’oon (also spelled muttawa or mutawi,) who are enforcers of “virtue” – the religious police. These Islamic vigilantes wear red and white check keffiyehs or headscarves, and have the power to arrest people. They belong to an official body called the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, which has 10,000 members in 486 centers throughout the kingdom. The president of this commission is Sheikh Ibrahim Al-Ghaith. He stated in March this year that a royal decree was issued on September 7, 1980. This decree, said Al-Gaith, made the muttawa follow strict procedural guidelines.

He said: “The commission plays a large role in capturing people who practice sorcery or delusions since these are vices which affect the faith of Muslims and cause harm to both nationals and expatriates. The commission has assigned centers in every city and town to be on the lookout for these men. As for their fate, they are arrested and then transferred to concerned authorities. The commission also has a role in breaking magic spells, which are found in the sea. We cooperate with divers in this aspect. After the spells are found, they are then broken using recitations of the Holy Koran. We do not use magic to break magic spells, as this is against the teachings of Islam as mentioned by the Supreme Ulema. But we use the Koran as did the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).”

Belief in sorcery and witchcraft seems anachronistic in the 21st century, but in November 2005 a chemistry teacher found himself sentenced to three years’ imprisonment and 750 lashes, for mocking Islam and studying witchcraft. Those who had accused Mr. Muhammad Al-Harbi were his own students. In December, Mr. Al-Harbi was granted a pardon by King Abdullah.

In June last year, Sheikh Ibrahim Al-Ghaith launched a campaign to stamp out practices of “witchcraft” amongst Indian and African migrant workers in the kingdom. Earlier, Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported on the case of a naked African “witch” who brought traffic to a halt in Medina. The woman had been seen walking naked, and was tracked to a brothel. She tried to flee through a window, but fell through a roof and walked away unharmed, showing her “witchcraft.” She was later captured. The situation of foreign witchcraft practitioners led to Al-Ghaith setting up emergency centers throughout the kingdom to “register complaints on sorcerers and charlatans, track them and terminate them.”

When not seeking out witches, the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice targets people who are considered to be acting immorally. They commonly seek out people who are “in seclusion.” This breach of morality, called “khalwat”, happens when a man and woman are found to be in each other’s company when they are neither married nor blood relatives. How the muttawa assess “khalwat” is – to Western minds – bizarre.

In June, 2006 a disabled 70-year old woman entered a shop in Al Deira market in Riyadh while unaccompanied by a man. In the shop was the male shopkeeper. As a result, the woman (and not the man) was accused of “khalwat”. Her relatives were not informed of her arrest. They found her a few days later in a jail.

The Saudi-based Arab News reported recently that a Nigerian man has been in jail for at least 50 days. Ibrahim Mohammed Lawal, a recent convert to Islam, had been studying Islamic Law at Badiya Islamic Center in Riyadh. When he heard that his 63-year-old woman neighbor was ill, he offered to drive her to the hospital. Several hospitals refused to admit the woman. Some time after she was finally admitted to a hospital, Mr. Lawal wondered about the woman’s well-being. He called to her apartment, where three of the woman’s female friends were present. As he inquired after the woman’s health, the muttawa arrived, and arrested Mr. Lawal and the three women.

Mr. Lawal cannot understand why he is in jail. He said: “I wanted to do a good thing for a woman who was sick, and this is what I get in return. I lost the support of my family in Nigeria, where my wife and children are upset with me – and here I am languishing in prison.”

In May 2006, the Saudi interior minister, Prince Nayef, announced that the powers of the muttawa to arrest and detain suspects for hours were to be limited. The decree, reprinted in newspapers across the kingdom, stated: “The role of the ‘authority for the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice’ ends with apprehending suspected individuals and handing them to the police, who then present them to prosecutors with a report of the incident involved.”

Despite such rulings, the zeal of the religious police exceeds the bounds they should abide by. Sometimes Shi’a Muslims are apprehended by the muttawa, and only released when they have signed a document denouncing their faith. The religious police frequently take men whose hair is too long off the streets. The individual’s locks are sheared to an acceptable length before release. They have a reputation for violence. This year, two men have died while in their custody. In June this year, local news reported that one man who had been apprehended for “khalwat” had died of a heart attack in custody. 50-year-old Ahmed Al Bulawi had been arrested in the northern province of Tabuk. The woman he was accused of being too “close” to was the relative of his employers.

28-year-old Salman Al Huraisy had died in May this year, after being arrested by the muttawa in Riyadh. Mr Huraisy had been accused of dealing alcohol. His relatives claimed that he had been beaten to death.

In the same month, Saudi newspaper Okaz reported that a woman was severely injured after she fled from muttawa who had broken into her home. The religious police suspected her of “indecent activities.” She panicked and jumped from the fourth floor of her apartment block.

The greatest abuse of the religious police’s powers happened in March 11, 2002, and only became public knowledge after a senior member of the 20,000-strong Al Saud clan allowed the incident to be reported. A fire had broken out at a girl’s dormitory at a school in Mecca. The girls inside tried to flee the burning building. Because they were inappropriately dressed, the religious police beat them back into the blazing dormitory. They also prevented firemen from reaching the trapped victims. As a result, 15 innocent girls died. When the fire was first reported it had been claimed that the girls had died in a “stampede” to escape.

In July last year, the muttawa caused 69 women who worked at a chain of cosmetics stores to lose their jobs. One woman said: “The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice came to our shop once. We were wearing Islamic clothes and did not have any makeup on us despite the fact we work in a cosmetic shop. We did not look indecent as they claim and we definitely did not deserve to lose our jobs.” A senior member of the company which owned the shops said that “the commission issued a decision ordering us to close down our shops within three days. When we objected they said either we close down the shops or they will settle the matter by taking all the girls by force to their cars.”

The laws enforced at Saudi’s religious courts indicate a cavalier approach to human dignity. In March this year, a young woman who had run away from home was placed in a foster home for girls and was additionally sentenced to sixty lashes.

In November last year, Deutsche Presse Agentur reported that a young woman, who had been subjected to a violent gang rape by at last four assailants, was herself convicted of “khalwat.” Before the rape had taken place, she had been alone in a car with a man. As a result, she was sentenced to 90 lashes.

The following month, an Indian man working in Saudi wanted to visit his wife, who had just given birth to a son. He lost his way, and found himself in a Muslim-only area of Medina. His maroon residency visa (indicating he was a non-Muslim) was noticed, and he was reported to the police. A religious court sentenced him to be beheaded.

Beheadings take place in public, where a victim is made to kneel before having the head severed with a sword. There are numerous cases of female migrant workers, who have defended themselves from employers’ rape attacks, who have been killed this way. The figures for decapitations in Saudi Arabia have increased dramatically this year. In 2005, 83 people were beheaded, but in 2006 this figure dropped to 38. In this year alone there have been 107 public decapitations.

Saudi Arabia is a country with no democracy, and no religious freedoms. Yet we in the West allow the Saudis to fund mosques and schools, and to promote their intolerant Wahhabist ideology. Saudi-supported groups like CAIR complain about Muslims’ rights being abused in the West, while Muslims and non-Muslims have no real rights in Saudi Arabia. There is something unbalanced in this equation.

 

# #
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Adrian Morgan is a British based writer and artist who has written for Western Resistance since its inception. He also writes for Spero News. He has previously contributed to various publications, including the Guardian and New Scientist and is a former Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Society.
read full author bio here
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Note — The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, views, and/or philosophy of The Family Security Foundation, Inc.

Other Articles by Adrian Morgan…
The Sickness That Is Wahhabi Islam
Pakistan: In the Line of Fire
Will Gordon Brown Maintain the US “Special Relationship”?
Who is the True Godfather of Islamic Fundamentalism?
Britain’s New Leadership Fails To Prevent Terrorism, Threatens America: (Part Four of Four)
Britain’s New Leadership Fails To Prevent Terrorism, Threatens America: (Part Three of Four)
Britain’s New Leadership Fails To Prevent Terrorism, Threatens America: (Part Two of Four)
Britain’s New Leadership Fails To Prevent Terrorism, Threatens America (Part One of Four)
Women Under Islam (Part Four of Four)
Hamas, Gaza and the Muslim Brotherhood’s ‘Project’: (Part Two of Two)

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An Idealistic Alternative to the Saudi Arms Deal

An Idealistic Alternative to the Saudi Arms Deal

By Walid Phares

The US Government is considering a new gigantic arms sale to the Saudi Kingdom, up to 20 billion dollars’ worth of complex weaponry. The proposed package includes advanced satellite-guided bombs, upgrades to its fighters, and new naval vessels, as part of a US strategy to contain the rising military expansion of Iran in the region. The titanic arms deal is a major Saudi investment to shield itself from the Khomeinist menace looming at the horizon:  an Iranian nuclear bomb, future Pasdaran control in Iraq, and a Hezb’allah offensive in Lebanon.
 

The real Iranian threat against the Saudis materializes as follows:
 

1. Were the US led coalition to leave Iraq abruptly, Iranian forces — via the help of their militias in Iraq — will be at the borders with the Kingdom. Throughout the Gulf, Iran’s Mullahs will be eyeing the Hijaz on the one hand and the oil rich provinces on the other hand.
 

2. Hezb’allah threatens the Lebanese Government, which is friendly to the Saudis. Hezb’allah, already training for subversion in Iraq, will become the main trainer of Shia radicals in the Eastern province of the Kingdom. 
 

3. Finally Syria and Iran can send all sorts of Jihadis, including Sunnis, across Iraq’s borders, almost in a pincer movement.
 

In the face of such a hydra-headed advance, the Wahhabi monarchy is hurrying to arm itself with all the military technology it can get from Uncle Sam. Riyadh believes that with improved F 16s, fast boats, electronics and smarter bombs, it can withstand the forthcoming onslaught. 
 

I believe the Saudi regime won’t. For, as the Iraq-Iran war has proved, the ideologically-rooted brutality of the Iranian regime knows no boundaries. If the US withdraws from the region without a strong pro-Western Iraq in the neighborhood, and absent of a war of ideas making progress against fundamentalism as a whole, the Saudis won’t stand a chance for survival. For the Iranians will apply their pressure directly, and will unleash more radical forces among the neo-Wahhabis against the Kingdom. The Shiite Mullahs will adroitly manipulate radical Sunnis, as they have demonstrated their ability to do in Iraq and Lebanon.
 

So what should the US advise the Saudis to do instead of spending hugely on arms?
 

First, if no serious political change is performed in Arabia, the 20 billion dollars’ worth of weapons would most likely end up in the hands of some kind of an al Qaeda, ruling over not only over Riyadh, but also Mecca and Medina. That package of wealth, religious prestige and modern arms, at this point of spasms in the region, is simply too risky strategically.
 

But there are better ways to spend these gigantic sums in the global confrontation with Iranian threat and in defense of stability. It needs a newer vision for the region.  Here are alternative plans to use the 20 billion dollars wisely but efficiently; but let’s not count on the far reaching mainstream of Western analysis at this point: 
 

Dedicate some significant funds to support the Iranian opposition, both inside the country and overseas. Establish powerful broadcasts in Farsi, Kurdish, Arabic, Azeri and in other ethnic languages directed at the Iranian population. That alone will open a Pandora’s box inside Iran. Realists may find it hard to believe, but supporting the Iranian opposition (which is still to be identified) will pay off much better than AWACS flying over deserts.
 

Slate substantial sums to be spent in southern Iraq to support the anti-Khomeinist Shiia, the real shield against the forthcoming Pasdaran offensive. Such monies distributed wisely on civil society activists and on open anti-Khomeinist groups, would build a much stronger defense against Ahmedinijad’s ambitions.
 

Lavish funding should be granted to the Syrian liberal opposition to pressure the Assad regime into backing off from supporting Terrorism. Without a Mukhabarat regime in Damascus, the bridge between Tehran and Hezb’allah would crumble. Hence, the Syrian opposition is much worth being backed in its own home than for Saudi Arabia to fight future networks in its own home.  
 

Allocate ample funding to the units of the Iraqi army that show the most efficiency in cracking down on terrorists, and which prove to be lawful and loyal to a strong central Government, pledging to defend its borders, particularly with regard to Iran.  That would include the moderate Sunnis in the center and the Kurdish and other minority forces in the North. A strong multiethnic Iraq, projecting a balance of power with Iran’s regime, is the best option for the Peninsula.
 

Grant abundant aid to the Lebanese Government, the Cedars Revolution NGOs and the Lebanese Army to enable them to contain Hezb’allah on Lebanese soil. Earmark some of these grants to the Shia opposition to Nasrallah inside his own areas. When Hezb’allah is isolated by Lebanon’s population, Arab moderates around the region can sleep much better at night. 
 

Spend real money on de-radicalization programs inside the Kingdom and across the region. With dollars spent on moderate Imams and not on the readicals, Riyadh can shake off the radical Salafi clerics, and have an impact the Jihadists’ followers. By doing so, it will prevent Jihadism from becoming (as it has already) the only other option on the inside, if the Iranian axis will put pressure on the country.
 

Forward meaningful sums to support the current Somali Government against the Islamic Courts and help the moderates in Eritrea and Sudan.  The best defense against radicalism coming from the horn of Africa is to support the moderates in East of the continent.
 

Invite the US military to abandon Qatar as a regional base and to relocate to the Eastern provinces of the Kingdom, with as many billions of dollars as required to help in reinstallation and deployment facing Iran’s threat. A military attack by the Iranian regime on Saudi Arabia would then become a direct attack on the United States.    
 

With the remaining billions, the Saudi Government would renew, remodel, and retrain its forces so that along with its allies, the US, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Gulf states, they would deter an Iranian regime, which will be defeated by its own people.   
 

That of course, presumes radical reforms take place, quickly, in the Peninsula. But isn’t such a hope just a desert mirage?
 

Indeed, the points I suggested in this article, although logical in terms of counter-radicalism strategy, have very little chance of being adopted or even considered in Riyadh. The Kingdom, sadly, wants to confront the Islamic Republic only with classical military deterrence, not with a war of ideas. Which perhaps is why the region’s “friendly” regimes  have preferred not to endorse “spreading democracy” as a mean to contain Terrorism. The reason is simple: Democratic culture will also open spaces in their own countries, a matter they haven’t accepted yet.  
 

Dr Walid Phares is senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and the author of War of Ideas.

It’s time the Middle East grew up

U.S. Officials Voice Frustrations With Saudis’ Role in Iraq

U.S. Officials Voice Frustrations With Saudis’ Role in Iraq

About time. By Helene Cooper for the New York Times (thanks to Doc Washburn):

WASHINGTON, July 26 — During a high-level meeting in Riyadh in January, Saudi officials confronted a top American envoy with documents that seemed to suggest that Iraq’s prime minister could not be trusted.One purported to be an early alert from the prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, to the radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr warning him to lie low during the coming American troop increase, which was aimed in part at Mr. Sadr’s militia. Another document purported to offer proof that Mr. Maliki was an agent of Iran.

The American envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, immediately protested to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, contending that the documents were forged. But, said administration officials who provided an account of the exchange, the Saudis remained skeptical, adding to the deep rift between America’s most powerful Sunni Arab ally, Saudi Arabia, and its Shiite-run neighbor, Iraq.

Now, Bush administration officials are voicing increasing anger at what they say has been Saudi Arabia’s counterproductive role in the Iraq war. They say that beyond regarding Mr. Maliki as an Iranian agent, the Saudis have offered financial support to Sunni groups in Iraq. Of an estimated 60 to 80 foreign fighters who enter Iraq each month, American military and intelligence officials say that nearly half are coming from Saudi Arabia and that the Saudis have not done enough to stem the flow.

One senior administration official says he has seen evidence that Saudi Arabia is providing financial support to opponents of Mr. Maliki. He declined to say whether that support was going to Sunni insurgents because, he said, “That would get into disagreements over who is an insurgent and who is not.”

Indeed it would.

Saudis in the Classroom

Saudis in the Classroom

Here’s a little something to get you to reach for you blood pressure meds this morning.

The Saudis have stealthily introduced their ideas of Middle Eastern history and events into American K-12 classrooms. Just how have they managed such a feat?

The United States government gives money — and a federal seal of approval — to a university Middle East Studies center. That center offers a government-approved K-12 Middle East studies curriculum to America’s teachers. But in fact, that curriculum has been bought and paid for by the Saudis, who may even have trained the personnel who operate the university’s outreach program. Meanwhile, the American government is asleep at the wheel — paying scant attention to how its federally mandated public outreach programs actually work. So without ever realizing it, America’s taxpayers end up subsidizing — and providing official federal approval for — K-12 educational materials on the Middle East that have been created under Saudi auspices. Game, set, match: Saudis.

But couldn’t all this just be an innocent attempt at promoting goodwill toward Muslims? Try again:

Harvard’s outreach training prompted K-12 teachers to design celebratory treatments of the life and teachings of Mohammad and the “revelation” and spread of Islam, with exercises calling on students to “appoint imams,” memorize Islamic principles, and act out prayer at a Mosque. According to Stotsky, if Harvard’s outreach personnel had designed similar classroom exercises based on Christian or Jewish models, “People for the American Way, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and the A.C.L.U. would descend upon them like furies.”

Instead of training teachers in the history and contemporary challenges of the Muslim world, Stotsky concluded that Harvard’s outreach program was “manipulating” apolitical teachers with a “barely disguised” attempt to “shape…attitudes on specific political issues.” The lesson plans designed by K-12 teachers who participated in these Harvard-run seminars included exercises in which students were asked to watch newscasts and spot out instances in which Muslims were stereotyped as violent or barbaric. Lesson plans proposed discussion questions like, “Why have so many groups wanted to control the Middle East?” and “How might the history of repeated invasions influence the history of people in this area?”

If this information wasn’t verified by the Massachusetts Department of Education, you could dismiss the idea as simply the rantings of some conspiracy nut. Who could ever believe that a foreign country would be able to influence the curricula of American schools in such a way? And do it without any oversight by the federal government?

Maybe the feds could start a program “No Slanted View Of Middle Eastern History Left Behind.”

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