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Lethal Ideology Threatens The West And World Order

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Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, CDHR, Washington DC

November 20, 2015

Escalating Terrorism, Kingdom On A Precipice, Lethal Ideology, OIC Must Be Challenged

CDHR’s Analysis And Commentaries

Emasculating Lethal Ideology Starts In Saudi Arabia

CDHR’s Commentary: In his annual pilgrimage speech on September 23, 2015, the Saudi Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al-Ashaikh (the highest religious authority in the land), called on Sunni Muslims to rid the world of the enemies of Islam. The Mufti insisted that, ‘Some of them {the enemies} are non-Muslims while others want to exploit Islam posing as Muslims.’ This statement is only a prelude to the Mufti’s attack on his customary targets, the Shi’a and non-Muslims whom he and his religious establishment consider heretics and blasphemers. During his dogmatic speech, the Mufti “said the Houthis {offshoot of Shi’a Islam} are a deviant and sinful group that runs counter to the ethics of Muslims.” He fictitiously claims that the Houthis ‘spread chaos in Islamic countries in a manner that gives a chance to the enemies of Islam (non-Muslims) to exploit their resources and threaten the security of neighboring countries.’

Unlike the Saudis’ globally reviled and dreaded brand of Wahhabi Islam, the small Yemeni religious minority, the Houthis, have no religious influence over or followers anywhere outside of their rugged region of Yemen. They are mostly bare-footed, ill-equipped and poverty stricken Yemeni men and women who have no money, oil, traditional force, global ideology or well-established and powerful religious institutions. Nor can they spend billions of dollars to indoctrinate and export zealots and suicide bombers throughout the world.

However, the Saudi Mufti’s pilgrimage speech on September 23 was intended to ensure the continued support of the increasingly skeptical and disapproving Saudi and other populations of the countries whose regimes were financially lured to join the trigger happy new Saudi rulers’ invasion and devastation of Yemen. To his and his handlers’ dismay, the Mufti’s speech did not seem to sway anyone other than some of his violence and intolerance advocating religious establishment.

Less than two weeks later, on October 5, a horde of the Mufti’s hard core followers signed a petition condemning Shi’a and enemies of Islam, calling on the overwhelming majority Sunni Muslims to ‘give all moral, material, political and military’ support to ISIS, Al-Nusra, Jaish Al-Islam (Army of Islam), Al-Qaeda and others in Syria, whom the Saudi clerics praised as ‘the holy warriors of Syria.’ The Saudi clerics are staunch advocates of terror campaigns against Syrian Shi’a and Christians, claiming that unless these groups are destroyed, Sunni Muslim states will fall one by one.

Ironically, the Saudi clerics and their royal allies and financiers who call on Muslims to annihilate each other and non-Muslims insist that Islam is a religion of peace, equality, justice, tolerance and the only hope to save humanity.

Muslims must decide whether their faith is a religion of peace, equality and harmony or a religion of war, injustice and inequality, as many critics of Islam charge. Muslims also have to define the phrase: “the enemies of Islam.” Are non-Muslims the enemies of Islam or are the Muslims who have committed and are currently engaged in unprecedented heinous crimes against each other the real enemies of their faith?

Many Muslims, including scholars, prominent politicians and reputable religious institutions, as well as a myriad of non-Muslims seem to agree that the lethal Saudi ideology poses the biggest threat to Muslims and to the international community.  They have gone even further to call on Muslims and Non-Muslims to unite and defeat Wahhabism.

Given this reality why is nothing being done to save human lives, democratic values and the established global order?

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC): Misleading Declarations & Lamentations

CDHR’s Commentary: Led by King Salman of Saudi Arabia (the birth place of Islam, home to the 1.5 billion Muslims’ holy shrines and to the fixated Wahhabi dogma), the heads of the 56 states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) are quick to condemn the murderous attack on innocent French music and dining aficionados at the beginning of their normally celebrative weekend which is filled with uplifting rendezvous. Presidents of Turkey, Indonesia, Iran and Egypt, as well as a multitude of absolute kings, prime ministers, Emirs and other Muslim heads of states, from Nigeria to Brunei, condemned the terrorists’ attack on Paris and promised continued efforts to eradicate Muslim terrorist organizations. These promises are misleading because ISIS’s murderous founders and operatives consist of indoctrinated individuals and groups that have been armed and financed by the Saudi, Turkish, Qatari and other Arab and Muslim regimes. ISIS’s regional and global recruits are inspired by hard core ideology, specifically, the Saudi/Wahhabi dogma.

Despite their fear of and desire to defeat ISIS, Muslim regimes, especially the Saudis, the Turks, the Iranians and the likes, have very different objectives from Western and other non-Muslim powers. The West and other non-Muslim countries want to defeat ISIS as lethal ideologues that threaten their societies and way of life.

On the other hand, autocratic Muslim heads of states’ primary objective is to eliminate ISIS as a rival entity that threatens their repressive grips on power in their countries, but not to eradicate ISIS’s ideology.

Some Muslim ruling elites practice the same methods for which they condemn ISIS, such as beheading, flogging, oppression of women and religious intolerance. Given these facts, some Muslim regimes rival or even surpass the brutal methods that Al-Qaeda and ISIS use to achieve their objectives.

For instance, former Saudi Ambassador to Washington, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan was reported to have told President George W. Bush that, “It is a mistake to think that our people {the ruling family} will not do what is necessary to survive, and if that means we move to the right of bin Laden, so be it; to the left of Qaddafi, so be it; or fly to Baghdad and embrace Saddam like a brother, so be it.”

Despite rivaling some of ISIS’s methods and sharing its rigid dogma, Muslim regimes want to be seen by their public and by the international community as the best alternative to ISIS and Al-Qaeda, who demonize and physically attack “the unbelievers,” whom they portray as natural enemies of Islam and Muslims. Additionally, there are millions of ISIS sympathizers in all Arab and Muslim states that can create troubles for their regimes if their governments decide to form a united front to destroy ISIS.

This is the primary reason for the Arab and other Sunni Muslim regimes’ decision not to use the full strength of their lethal military hardware and foot soldiers to destroy ISIS and Al-Qaeda, as the Saudi-led coalition is doing to the Houthi Shiites in Yemen. These regimes want to draw in the West and other non-Muslim powers to invade Arab and Muslim lands and rid them of their ideological competitors. These regimes can then turn around and blame non-Muslim powers, specifically the West, for “declaring war on Islam” and Muslims. By inflaming Muslim rage against non-Muslim countries, these regimes can deflect the anger of ISIS sympathizers away from their repressive rule and toward those who destroyed their heroes, the “unbelievers.”

The deadly attack on France took place at a time when the heads of the world’s most powerful and influential states were meeting in Turkey to discuss urgent environmental and economic issues. However, the attack on France overshadowed the gathering elites’ agenda and forced them to respond to public outcry against the threats that ISIS and other Muslim terror groups pose for Western democracy, global order and economic growth.

While defeating ISIS, Al-Qaeda and the likes should be a global priority, it must not be forgotten that these groups are only a manifestation of a deadlier disease, an ideology that must be addressed at its roots. The responsibility of dealing with this lethal ideology lies squarely on the shoulders of the 56 member states of the Saudi-based and largely financed Organization of Islamic Cooperation, (the OIC.)

However, if draining the swamp in which the lethal creatures thrive and reproduce is left to the heads of states of OIC, it’s more likely than not that more of the US 9/11, the British 7/7, the Mumbai's 7/11 and the French 11/13, will not only continue, but amplify and spread.

Given this grim scenario, the world’s non-Muslim powers can do one of two things: one, continue to appease and do lucrative business deals with the heads of states of the repressive and anti-human-rights members of OIC, or two, make it clear to the regimes of the OIC that they have no option but to emasculate the ideology that threatens global order and inflicts death and destruction on Muslims and non-Muslims worldwide. Symptoms can be temporarily suppressed, but the disease will gradually kill.

Is Fighting Terrorism ‘A War On Muslims?’

CDHR’s Commentary: Proposing a counterterrorism strategy to a European Union gathering in October 2015, British Prime Minister David Cameron was correct when he said that the battle to eradicate extremism, “was perhaps the” 'defining one of this century.’  Mr. Cameron described the Muslim (Islamist) terror groups as ‘subversive, well-organised and sophisticated in their methods; Islamist extremists don't just threaten our security, they jeopardize all that we've built together – our successful multi-racial, multi-faith democracy.’ Wrenchingly, Mr. Cameron’s description of the murderous groups’ methods and objectives were proven true during their heinous attack in Paris on Friday, Nov. 13, 2015.

The homicidal Muslim terrorists’ lethal attack on unsuspecting French citizens who were enjoying a Friday outing in restaurants and music halls demonstrated the killing and organizational skills of ISIS, some of whose deadly members are British citizens of Muslim extraction. Alarmingly, this article states that there are more British Muslim citizens fighting for ISIS than in their country’s armed forces. Like Al-Qaeda’s and other terror groups, ISIS mercenaries “love to die” by massacring those who “love to live” and enjoy the fruits of their and their forefathers’ unparalleled achievements that Cameron described as, a “multi-racial, multi-faith democracy.”

Dreadfully, after hearing of the British government’s strategy to fight terrorism (“regardless of source”), British Muslims and others accused Cameron’s government of declaring ‘a war on Muslims,’ despite the fact that the British strategy clearly specified “extremists and terrorists.”  By their accusations, British Muslims seem to imply that all Muslims are extremists and terrorists.

How can Western officials be accused of declaring ‘war on Muslims’ when in fact they assiduously go out of their way to avoid equating Islam and the majority of Muslims with terrorism?  It’s ironic that Muslims accuse Western governments of being anti-Muslims when in reality leaders like Prime Minster Cameron, President Francois Hollande and others are willing to further endanger their societies in order to save Muslims from their lethal co-believers who prey mostly on Muslims, destroy their countries, historical monuments and demonize their faith.

Thus far, Western leaders, media and commentators have been trying to convince their populations that those who target them are just a few depraved individuals who happen to be Muslim. However, it’s only a matter of time before the citizens of Britain, France, the Netherlands and Sweden (among others) take the law into their own hands. When that happens, Muslim migrants and those who look Middle Eastern, whether citizens or residents of the West or of other countries like Russia and Eastern Europe, will be the recipients of violent revenge.

Kingdom On A Precipice While Royals Indulge

I'm a prince and I will do what I want and nobody will do anything to me!’

CDHR’s Commentary: The above phrase was allegedly uttered by an intoxicated member of the large Saudi ruling family (one of King Abdullah’s sons), it could have been said by any of the thousands of Saudi princes, regardless of their official status or family lineage. They feel superior, invincible and irreplaceable even now, when in reality they are being gradually relegated to the archives of dispensability. The royals (males and females) were born into and raised in a mentally, socially, politically, developmentally and physically circumscribed environment where they are trained not only to feel haughty and act mercilessly, but to rule, control, intimidate and remind their disenfranchised population that the royals are their incontrovertible eternal masters.

Thus, the relationships between the Saudi royals and their subjugated people are based on a foundation of “superior royals and inferior subjects.” The royals consider the country and its wealth their God given private property; therefore, they can do anything “they want” without any domestic or external retribution. This fictitious royal sense of unmerited superiority isolates them, not only from the people, but impedes their perceptions of reality. Consequently, their seventh century mindset continues to blind them to unprecedented transformative regional and global developments which are knocking on their gold-plated palace doors in a manner they never expected, but cannot ignore, deny or escape.

Since they have been the absolute masters and rulers of their stationary kingdom for decades, the Saudi royals (regardless of their gender, age or official status) are not held accountable for their transgressions, nor are they subject to their kingdom’s draconian laws. In other words, the cruel Shariah-based laws such as arbitrary arrests, incarcerations, lengthy imprisonments without charges, flogging and beheadings in public squares are not applicable to the Saudi princes and princesses, unless applying them on rare occasions re-enforces public fears of the authorities. Over the past 50 years more than 5,000 commoners have been beheaded (estimated at 100+ a year), while only two members of the ruling family have been sentenced to die for their actions.

One globally well-known case was that of Princess Masha'il bint Fahd (best remembered by the book and documentary, The Death of A Princess), who was shot by a death squad in a public square on July 15, 1977. Her crime? She fell in love with a commoner and tried to flee the country with him to avoid being killed if they were caught socializing in Saudi Arabia. Like other Saudi females, princesses are considered men’s property. Furthermore, if a princess, especially the king’s daughter (like Princess Masha'il), interacted with or married a commoner, she would not only be considered guilty of insulting her family’s superior status and self-proclaimed ethnic supremacy, but a threat to their carefully concealed and guarded secrets. The young man with whom the princess fell in love was barbarically beheaded on the same day she was shot dead.

Another case was that of the assassination of King Faisal by his nephew, Prince Faisal Ibn Musaed, on March 25, 1975. The assassin was beheaded three months later and that was the last beheading of any member of the ruling family, despite reported rampant political, religious, social, drug related and economic looting and misconduct committed by a number of royals.

Given their immunity from punishments in their country and self-perceived superiority, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when many Saudi princesses and princes behave contemptibly and violently when they travel to and do business in other countries. The October 2015 globally publicized crimes committed by two well connected members of the Saudi ruling family, (Prince Majed, one of King Abdullah’s sons, and Prince Abdel Mohsen, a grandson of the founder of the Saudi kingdom) demonstrate Saudi royals’ arrogance and contempt for societies governed by the rule of law.

Prince Majed was reported to have physically abused his mansion’s female servants and forced all of his staff to disrobe by the pool in a mansion he was renting in Beverly Hills, California. Prince Abdel Mohsen was arrested at Beirut International airport while trying to smuggle two tons of amphetamine and cocaine, favorite drugs in the Gulf Arab states and among ISIS terror groups. Under the Saudi state’s Shariah law, drug smuggling and sexual assault are punishable by death, unless the royals are the perpetrators. The Saudi regime’s hypocrisy is the primary reason behind global media attention and scorn directed at the Saudi princes’ crimes in foreign lands.

Despite the fact that their kingdom and its   ruling oligarchy are going through the most dangerous era in their history, the Saudi princes continue to do what their parents and grandparents have always done: pursuing   decadent behavior, illegal transactions and extravagant lifestyles that most people cannot imagine let alone live. The Saudi royals’ continued unrestrained behavior is taking place at a time when the Saudi people are being asked to tighten their belts because of a drastic decline in the state’s revenues and the regime’s costly and unprecedented militarized foreign policy and meddling in multi-regional conflicts.

Furthermore, the royals’ obsession with total control over the country and every aspect of its disenfranchised people’s lives, combined with fear of popular aspirations for better governance, continue to consume the regime’s energy, behavior and intense search for like-minded global allies. This fixation is increasing the number of the Saudi regime’s regional enemies, isolating it from its traditional allies in the West, intensifying the state’s insecurity and bankrupting its treasury.

Domestically, the Saudi kingdom is experiencing an unprecedented increase in terrorist attacks by home conceived, nurtured and Wahhabi-trained terrorists who share the philosophy and methods of the dreaded ISIS extremists, whose declared objective is to overthrow the Saudi regime and replace it as the leaders of Sunni Muslims worldwide.

Additionally, the majority of Saudis, especially the youth and women of all ages and social ranks, are demanding social justice, including equality and political participation, which the current regime adamantly oppose. Even if the regime is willing to grant more rights, it could not without driving its religious legitimizers and power-base toward ISIS and Al-Qaeda, with whom they share more common values than they do with the Saudi royals.

Despite being surrounded by unprecedented internal and regional threats, mired in expensive wars in Yemen and Bahrain, meddling in the internal affairs of many Arab and Muslim countries, facing a decline in national income (due to falling oil prices), as well as severe divisions within the ruling family, the ruling princes continue to feel invincible, waste public wealth on their extravagant lifestyles and misconduct and assume continued invulnerability to public uprisings, similar to those that brought down their like-minded counterparts in other Arab countries. Given the current regime’s dangerous policies, one can safely assume that the royals will continue on their current path until they push the country over the precipice.


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Last Updated on Friday, 20 November 2015 03:51

Royals are More Vulnerable Than Ever

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Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, CDHR, Washington DC

September 23, 2015

Royals’ Vulnerability, Impact of Regime’s Policies, Women and Municipal Elections

CDHR’s Analysis and Commentaries

The Saudi Overriding Motive to Replace Assad.

CDHR’s Commentary: Contrary to their public pontifications against President Assad’s crimes, the Saudi regime, the new “Ottoman Sultan” of Turkey, Erdogan, the Muslim Brotherhood and their friends want to overthrow the brutal secular Syrian dictator not to save Syria, its thousands of years-old antiquities and its severely and inhumanely battered population, but to replace him with their own deadly brutal cronies. The anti-Assad autocratic movement’s burning desire is to install a fundamentalist tyranny, like the Alnusra terrorist group, which they have and can continue to arm, finance, control and use against each other, their regional enemies and the international community when deemed useful to blackmail their Western supporters.

The Saudis, specifically, may succeed in realizing their objective. It has been reported that Western powers consider the Saudi oligarchs as the only remaining Arab autocrats that can tame and control the Arab World by any and all means available, including money, ideology and the sword, as they have demonstrated in Bahrain, Yemen, Egypt, Iraq and Syria itself.

The questions that have not generated public discourse are: What group or system will replace the Assad regime if the Saudis and company have the opportunity to decide who should rule Syria? One thing can safely be assumed, it’s not going to be a democratic and tolerant regime dedicated to human development and social justice. What will happen to the remaining Christians, Kurds, and Armenians who have lived in the Middle East long before Islam was established more than 14 centuries ago? Many of them have been massacred, uprooted and their houses of worship and historical antiquities have been pulverized by the same groups the Saudis and the Turks have financed, armed and are likely select to replace the draconian Assad regime if they (Saudis and the Erdoganis) have their way of installing a regime to their liking in Syria.

In addition to the fate of the beleaguered remaining Christians, Kurds and Armenians, one can only imagine what will happen to women and Muslim minorities, like the Ahmadis, the Shia and others, if Alnusra (Al-Qaeda affiliates) and or Jaish al-Islam (Islamic Army) win or installed to rule Syria.

The Persian theocrats will do the same thing if they have their way to install their proxies to rule Syria. So who are the losers? The Syrian people (all Syrians), the region as a whole and the international community.

The Western governments’ (media and societies in general) support for and/or acquiesce to the Saudi regime’s and its allies’ efforts to dispose of the Assad regime and replace it with their proxies is not only a tacit endorsement of more atrocities against all Syrians, but against Western societies and their democratic values. If the Saudis and like-minded partners succeed in their pursuit of dominating Syria in the guise of preventing the Persians from “meddling in Arab affairs,” then all Western societies will have to brace themselves for more extremism, terrorism, economic instability and continued threats to their democratic values and national securities.

This is not just a Middle Eastern catastrophe that can be solved by those who created it and use it to achieve their objectives.

Saudi King And Obama’s Legacy

CDHR’s Commentary: About a month prior to inheriting the Saudi throne in January 2015, Crown Prince Salman (now King) told his counterparts in the Gulf Cooperation Council at a meeting in Qatar that, ‘The Gulf Cooperation Council {GCC} is passing through the most delicate situation in its history as a result of highly dangerous challenges.’ Since then, things have become much more dangerous for the GCC, and more so for Saudi Arabia, domestically, regionally and globally.

Domestically, since King Salman inherited the throne about 8 months ago, he has plunged his country into a costly, ill-advised and devastating war in Yemen. The country has been ravaged by terrorists’ attacks against 3 mosques in different areas of the country, including in a fortified Saudi security compound. The attackers were mostly Saudi nationals, products of Wahhabi religious indoctrination, but their murdered and maimed victims were Sunni and Shi’a worshippers. Apparently, part of King Salman’s response has been an intensifying of beheadings (175), increasing domestic surveillance and more authority granted to the judicial system to hand down swift severe punishments. Saudi Arabia has also been severely hit by an unexpected plummeting of oil revenues, which account for more than 90% of Saudi national income. This poses a major threat to a regime that has been able to use its massive oil proceeds to silence its opponents, buy loyalties, hire foreign protection and maintain total control over its population.

Regionally, despite the Saudi rulers’ relentless and costly efforts to derail the raging “Arab Spring” and restore their toppled like-minded dictatorial allies, the mass Arab revolutions not only prevailed, but spread and proved to be unstoppable despite regional and external military campaigns to slow or stop the uprisings. This reality is shattering the illusion that the Gulf States are unified and immune to public uprising, as demonstrated by the Gulf rulers’ ongoing quarrels, their escalating confrontational policies toward each other and their increasingly divergent strategies toward the rest of the Arab and Muslim states in the region.

Moreover, the Saudi rulers are facing one of their most daunting globally strategic nightmares in recent decades. They have had monopoly over the political, economic and strategic scene in the Middle East since the 1979 Iranian Islamic Revolution and its subsequent ramifications on Iran’s relations with the international community, especially with the West. The Saudi regional monopoly seems to be expiring given the West’s overtures to the Iranian autocratic and theocratic ruling elites.

The intermittent discussions between Western powers, specifically the US, and the Iranians since 2002, seem to be reaching a point of irreversible diplomatic and economic rapprochement. This reality has far-reaching political, strategic and economic consequences for the Saudi rulers. In addition to Iran’s potential economic bonanza for Western goods and services, Iran, with a population of about 80 million, occupies a far more significant strategic location, is more scientifically advanced and has a larger pro-democratic young population than those of their counterparts in the Gulf Arab states, with the exception of Bahrain, according to some reports.

These are some of the main reasons (in addition to possible medical treatment) that are prompting the aging and ailing Saudi King’s visit to Washington on September 4, 2015. Public declarations by Saudi officials, media and remunerated promoters of Saudi interests in Washington claiming that King Salman is being pressured by American officials to come ‘to address mutual concerns’ are skirting the truth. King Salman is coming to Washington to seek US help in saving his family and kingdom from the political, social and military quagmires the Saudi rulers have created for themselves over the years. Mired in a costly and bloody war in Yemen (that will only create more problems for the Gulf States and the world), the continuing occupation of Bahrain, looming threats from ISIS and an imminent financial disaster, King Salman is not in a position to even raise his voice when he meets with President Obama on September 4, 2015.

One thing that King Salman can count on when he meets with President Obama and his subordinates is their continuing observance of Saudi wishes: not to discuss abuses of human rights in Saudi Arabia. Contrariwise, President Obama does address human right abuses in many countries as demonstrated in July 2015 when he visited Africa. He publically rebuked his hosts in Kenya for allowing child marriages, persecution of gays, corruption, lack of accountability and transparency, marginalization of women, religious intolerance and lack of opportunities for youth. Commendably, President Obama repeated his stinging speech during his meeting with the 54 heads of African States in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on July 28, 2015. As harsh as abuses of human rights in countries in Africa are, they pale in comparison with what goes on in Saudi Arabia. The question is why admonish African governments, but not the Saudi rulers?

While President Obama’s Administration openly condemns many other regimes for their human rights abuses, it has shown no interest in or concern for the Saudi people and for their autocratic government’s abysmal human rights’ record, as courageously stated by 70 members of the US Congress under the leadership of Congressman Trent Franks of Arizona.

President Obama is in a superior energy and economic position in 2015 than he was when he met King Abdullah (deceased) in London in 2009. On the other hand, the Saudi rulers’ position has been drastically weakened regionally and globally and they are more vulnerable now than at any time in their history. This might be the last opportunity for the President of the most powerful and democratic country in the world to declare that America will not continue “to look the other way” while the Saudi rulers grossly violate their citizens’ basic human rights and count on the US to save them from domestic and external threats.

The release of all Saudi political prisoners of conscience and women’s equal rights should be among the top items on the President’s agenda when he meets with King Salman on September 4, 2015.

“Saudis” Pay For Their Rulers’ Iniquitous Policies

CDHR’s Commentary: This report asserts that the skyrocketing number of Saudi pleasure seekers in Europe are met with suspecting, rude and unwelcoming Europeans. If it’s any consolation, Europe has not been known for its reverence for Arabs and Muslims. Historically, Europeans have demonstrated disdain for Arab cultures, religions and lifestyles, long before the birth and effective use of modern terrorism by Arab and other Muslim groups and states against each other and against the West.

Notwithstanding the Saudi tourists’ peculiar dress code, disrespect for host countries’ way of orderly lives and other Saudi cultural peculiarities, the question is: should the Saudis be surprised by the way they are being perceived by the international community, especially Western societies? Most Saudis are well-informed and cognizant of the fact that their country’s name has become globally synonymous with arbitrary judicial system, flogging, beheadings, extremism, religious intolerance, chauvinism and terrorism.

These well-known and abundantly documented facts about the Saudi government’s and its religious establishment’s domestic and external policies and their known roles in the rise of extremism and  terrorism reflect unpleasantly on Saudi nationals wherever they go, work or live, including in their neighboring Gulf states.

The root causes of this stigma are old, deep and well-designed by the country’s iron-fisted rulers. From its inception in the mid-18th century, the Saudi/Wahhabi system is calculated not only to reduce people into fearful, reliant, backward and despairing beings, but to isolate them from each other and, more detrimentally, from the outside world. The isolation from within was carried out by dividing people along regional, religious, gender and ethnic lines. Isolating people from the outside world was accomplished through toxic traditional and religious indoctrination, portraying other peoples and cultures as inferior, contaminated and contemptable. The Saudi people are bombarded repeatedly with the message that their religion is the world’s only hope to save humanity, which is otherwise damned.

Internal social isolation denied the Saudi people social cohesion, a national identity (they are identified as Saudis, i.e., belong to the Saudi ruling family) and human development in the areas of physical, social, political, religious, psychological, economic, artistic, technological, scientific, theatrical and musical skills. Isolating the Saudi people from the international community denied them the ideal opportunities to reap benefits from the tremendous progress the world, specifically the West, has made, especially in the fields of sciences, technology, non-sectarian education, liberal arts, medicine, advancement of human rights, women’s rights, religious tolerance and freedom of all forms of expression.

Additionally, isolating Saudis from each other and from the international community for decades deprived them of the opportunity to interact freely with people from different parts of their country and the world and to learn about their ways of life, politics, mobility, productivity, work ethics, socialization processes, social skills and history. This sets the Saudis apart and causes many of them to interact awkwardly and/or inappropriately, especially when they visit foreign lands, like the advanced Western societies, where people are free to choose the lifestyle, religion, apparel and the relationships that suit them and meet their worldly and spiritual needs.

At home, the Saudi people don’t have opportunities to take chances and make choices due to their government’s stark political, religious, physical, mental and social limitations. When they visit free and open societies, many Saudis feel intimidated by the choices open to them and more so by being expected to abide by the rules of societies they have been psychologically and culturally brainwashed into believing are “infidels,” decadent and inferior to theirs.

Europeans’ hostile treatment of big money-spending Saudi tourists is due in part, but not limited to the way some of them dress (especially the unnatural and unsightly women’s black coverings), the way many Saudi tourists behave and how they relate to and treat the people of the lands to which they come to seek refuge from the suffocating heat and lifestyle in their barren kingdom.

In addition to their gawkish behavior and arrogance, many Saudis of all social, political, educational, age, gender and economic status have not only been perceived by Europeans as backward, but are associated with religious intolerance, extremism, sexism and terrorism since the largely Saudi-dogma-inspired and -financed terrorists’ attack on the US by mostly Saudi nationals on September 11, 2001 (9/11). Subsequent attacks in European countries as well as the Saudi regime’s roles in Middle Eastern raging conflagrations have re-enforced anti-Saudi sentiments not only in the West, but in Arab and Muslim countries as well.

The combination of all-encompassing repression at home, decades old isolation and a sense of helplessness among all Saudis, especially the youth (males and females), drive many young Saudis into despair; consequently, into the hands of extremist and terrorist groups, such ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Al-Nusra and Islamic Jihad, among others. Given the current Saudi government’s heavy-handed domestic policies and confrontational external interventions, the near future may not hold good news for Saudi people either at home or abroad. Thus, like other Arabs, the disenfranchised Saudis may conclude that violence is their last hope to be the authors of their destiny.

Saudi Women Voting: A Pyrrhic Victory?

CDHR’s Commentary: The Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, CDHR, has been inundated with inquiries regarding the highly politicized municipal elections due to take place at the end of this year in Saudi Arabia. Many people are curious to know about the impact of the elections on Saudi society since women will be permitted to vote and run for office, for the first time. Many individuals, analysts, experts and reporters are also asking why it took the Saudi government so long to permit women to participate in the cosmetic elections and whether allowing women to participate will change reality on the ground.

When the first elections took place in 2005, women were barred from participating because the Saudi rulers claimed that the elections’ committee did not have time to prepare segregated polling locations for women to vote. When the second municipal elections took place 9 years later, the King declared that women’s participation will be allowed in 2015. The King did not explain why and no one dared question the Saudi kings’ capricious decisions. However, feeble and illogical excuses are the Saudi rulers’ way of keeping their repressed population dependent on their whims and in suspense. This is mostly due to the fact that the Saudi rulers have to be sure that whatever decision they make will serve their own best interest first and foremost.

Will women’s participation in municipal elections change their current denigrated status or change the political structure and lead to power sharing? No, neither immediately nor in the near future, especially under King Salman and his Crown Prince nephew, Prince Mohammed bin Naif, staunch proponents of men’s bigoted domination upon which the political structure of the Saudi kingdom is predicated and has been ruled since it was established in 1932. In other words, the state’s political structure was not designed to accommodate meaningful public participation in the decision-making processes, let alone any possibility of accepting a pluralistic political supremacy. The system was designed by royal oligarchs whose intent is to rule single handedly and eternally, unless they are overthrown, as is being demonstrated in the rest of the Arab countries currently.

However, women’s participation in the municipal elections is a major psychological victory for women and will be a positive attitudinal adjustment for the disenfranchised Saudi society as a whole. Including women in the state’s illusionary public decision-making functions is an embryonic step in recognizing women, not only as part of society, but as full human beings who can think, work, achieve and use their resourceful intellects, creativity and superior endurance to help build a more cohesive, tolerant and inclusive society.

Many of the genuinely concerned inquirers want to know why the number of Saudi women who are registering to vote is small. Like Saudi men, Saudi women have been witnessing the meaninglessness of past cosmetic municipal elections; consequently, they are disillusioned by the practical insignificance of the results, which are designed to subvert domestic demands for real political inclusion and silence external critics of the absolute and discriminatory Saudi political system. Many well-informed Saudi women justifiably fear that by voting and running for office in a government’s contrived elections will be used by the Saudi oligarchy to silence supporters of legitimate women’s rights domestically and, more so, globally.

However, women’s failure to vote will only strengthen the hands of their domestic staunch enemies (the government’s religious establishment) and support the claims of the Saudi ruling elites, some domestic pro-regime intellectuals, businessmen, Western apologists and generously compensated lobbyists in the West, that Saudi women are content with their subservient status. This is a double-edged sword with one side sharper than the other.

Your contributions to CDHR’s efforts to address tough issues, invoke thought-provoking discourse and suggest peaceful solutions are crucial. We need to continue our educational outreach worldwide. CDHR is a 501 (c) 3 tax exempt educational organization.

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Saudi Arabia-The Elephant in The Room

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Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, CDHR, Washington DC

August 17, 2015

The Saudi Future, The West And The War On Terrorism

CDHR’s Analysis And Commentaries

Saudi Arabia: The Elephant In The Room

CDHR’s Commentary: Despite its status as the epicenter of extremism, religious intolerance, corruption, an exporter of lethal dogma, violator of its citizens’ basic human rights and supporter of extremists and terrorists worldwide, the Saudi regime is not only spared Western governments’ admonitions, but enjoys their categorical support and exaltations as an ally in  “The War on Terrorism” and a bedrock of regional stability.

No group would more vehemently disagree with the West’s public assessment of the Saudi regime’s good deeds than the Saudi people. If most Saudis (including some royals, old and young) are allowed to express their opinions without incurring forbidding punishments or losing their lucrative financial allotments, they would be the first to characterize the Western regimes, businesses, “experts” and mainstream media outlets’ reporters and commentators as hypocrites, to say the least.

Despite the exchange of frequent visits, appearances in a multitude of press conferences, business fora and elaborate state social events, Westerners (with the exception of former President George W. Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice , 70  members of US Congress and Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstroem) have been cowed into avoiding any public mention of human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, even when asked their opinion of or reactions to the Saudi government’s draconian domestic policies. Not only do Western officials genuflect to Saudi wishes, but businesspeople, reporters and educators disregard Saudi abuses of human rights, such as arbitrary arrests, incarcerations without charges and harsh punishment imposed on human rights and social justice advocates.

Many Saudis and others point to Western officials’ flagrant and discriminatory double standards regarding violations of human rights by the Saudi government. These groups argue that while Western officials never publicly mention the plight of prisoners of conscience, marginalization of women, minorities’ rights, religious freedom or freedom of expression in Saudi Arabia, the same officials openly and publicly chastise other governments for less egregious violations than those committed by the Saudi regime. A recent example of Western hypocrisy is evident in President Obama’s speeches and press conferences during his visit to Kenya and Ethiopia in July 2015.

While in Kenya, the President unabashedly condemned social injustices, including violations of human rights, corruption, marginalization of women, child marriage, gay rights, fraudulent elections, lack of economic opportunities for youth, lack of religious freedom and lengthy terms in office by some corrupt politicians, among other things. President Obama reiterated his critical message in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, when he met with 54 heads of states of the African Union (AU) on July 26, 2015. He admonished the heads of states of the AU for their failures to utilize their natural and human resources to advance their societies. President Obama attributed Africa’s political and economic stagnation to the marginalization of women. He forcefully stressed that ‘The single best indicator of whether a nation will succeed is how it treats its women. When women have health care and women have education, families are stronger, communities are more prosperous, children do better in school, nations are more prosperous. If you want your country to grow and succeed, you have to empower your women. Let’s lift up the next generation of women leaders who can help fight injustice and forge peace and start new businesses and create jobs -- We’ll all be better off when women have equal futures.’

Listening to President Obama rebuking the heads of African states for social injustices and bad governance while the US embraces the absolute Saudi regime not only fuels consternation among Saudis aspiring to freedom and social justice, but weakens their struggles for peaceful reforms. Continuing their current unconditional support for the Saudi monarchy is perilous at a time when Western governments, businesses and media should be realizing that the Saudi people are becoming more aware of their usurped rights and, like their counterparts in the Arab World, will rise against oppression, injustices, unemployment and inadequate public services.

Saudi citizens, of all orientations, are among the most active consumers and utilizers of social media in the world. More than at any time in their history, they watch and read uncontrollable and unfiltered information ranging from free speech, religious freedom, human rights, different lifestyles, elections, women’s rights, freedom of choice, checks and balances, corruption, accountability, and transparency to pornography. They are not only discovering that they are among the most disenfranchised people in the world, but they are realizing that they have become global pariahs due to their government’s and country’s  roles in fueling extremism, terrorism and violations of basic human rights. For the first time in their history, more Saudis (of all races, genders, beliefs, regions and ages) are attributing the multitude of their social illnesses to the Saudi regime’s policies and practices domestically and globally.

Despite their knowledge that the West is a major contributor to the causes of their domestic subjugation, Saudis, including Western-bashers, admire the West, especially American freedom, lifestyle and technological advancements. Given this sentiment, many Saudis are attuned to Western policies toward their country, especially the West’s unconditional support for and defense of the absolute Saudi ruling family. Consequently, the Saudi people are dismayed by the titanic hypocrisy of the West. Large segments of informed Saudis argue that unconditional Western support for their repressive oligarchy is not only based on economic and strategic benefits, but on historical Western contempt for their culture, race and beliefs.

While the West’s, especially the US’s, interest in Saudi Arabia was originally predicated on oil exclusively, the relationship between the autocratic Saudi ruling family and Western democracies has evolved to include strategic, political and global financial concerns. While the Saudi people benefited from oil revenues (particularly in the areas of infrastructure and employment), their rights contracted as their rulers invested and continue to invest massive amounts of their country’s wealth in building one of the most ubiquitous and repressive security apparatuses in the world which the system uses primarily to suppress the population. When Saudis are engaged in discussions about their government’s draconian domestic policies, they are quick to point fingers at Western support for the Saudi regime, specifically the US. The Saudis are not alone in this finger-pointing. Additionally, some Saudis fault the West’s close ties and collaboration with the Saudi royals for the rise of religious extremism through which Al-Qaeda and other terrorists groups have been able to recruit young Muslims and attract mercenaries from around the world, including the West.

Given this historical assessment of the Western role in Saudi affairs and considering the current irreversible movement toward a new geographical and political order in the Arab World, Western powers, especially the US, have two risky choices to consider regarding the future of Saudi Arabia. They can continue to support and prolong the reign of a tyrannical regime in Saudi Arabia and risk a potential takeover by ISIS-like native zealots, or they can sternly encourage the new generation of the ruling Saudi princes to share real power with all of their increasingly restless citizens. The latter is less risky, because of two futurist aspiring segments of Saudi society, the educated and well-informed youth and women, including some outspoken members of the ruling family. These groups will work with the monarchy to reform and defend the country if they feel the future is theirs, not exclusively that of the Saudi princes and their lethal and backward-looking religious clerics.

Can Crown Prince Mohammed Be An Ally In The War On Terrorism?

CDHR’s Commentary: For decades, conventional Western experts have been intensely engaged in predicting what Saudi foreign policy would look like under the next king. This was the time when the Saudi royal succession was cemented long before a king died, was dethroned, as in the case of King Saud in 1964, or was assassinated like King Faisal in 1975. But things are changing, complicating the predictors’ tasks.

As the second generation of Saudi princes dies off, the prognosticators are faced with the chore of speculating about who from the third generation will be the next king and why. The conjecturers’ theories normally get torpedoed by the Saudi rulers’ ultra-secretive system where such major decisions are made by three senior princes, namely the King, the Defense and Interior Ministers. After stormy, accusatory and screaming deliberations (according well-informed insiders), decisions are subsequently shared with the second stratum of princes and the top clerics, for uncontested approval and legitimization.  Read more: www.cdhr.info

Never before was there such intense indulgence in speculating who would be the most suitable royal to inherit the Saudi throne than what had transpired during King Abdullah’s reign (2005-2015.) Most western analysts and predictors were convinced that Prince Mohammed Bin Naif would inherit the Saudi throne.  They argued that he is a loyal US ally, educated in the US and, more important, he has proven his usefulness in the fight against terrorism.

Bewilderingly, they ignored facts that could have helped them consider Prince Mohammed’s shadowy past. He is the son and protégé of the late Prince Naif, from whom he inherited the feared and loathed Saudi Ministry of Interior for which he has worked most of his adult life. Under his father’s instruction and close supervision, Prince Mohammed created and implemented many of the Ministry’s draconian policies. Prominent among these policies are the arbitrary arrest, lengthy imprisonment and harsh punishment of Saudi reformers who condemn acts of domestic and global terrorism which they attribute to Saudi religious and educational indoctrination.

Prince Mohammed learned his profession from his late father, known to the Saudi people as the most ruthless prince, who vehemently opposed any political or educational reforms and was a staunch supporter of the extremist religious police as well as an advocate of limiting women’s role to raising “good men.”

Prince Mohammed (under his father’s command) was credited with “weakening” Al-Qaeda’s activities in Saudi Arabia after the group blew up lush fortified compounds where dozens of foreign nationals were killed and wounded in 2003 and 2006. Al-Qaeda relocated to Yemen where the terrorist group gained more recruits and became freer to plan and carry out attacks, especially against the US and Europe.

Prince Mohammed and his government are known as allies in the war against terrorism, which incredibly contradicts his country’s support for terror groups in different parts of the Middle East. It is true that the Saudi government and its ferocious religious establishment use brutal force and lush rehabilitation centers to defeat terrorists inside Saudi Arabia while inciting and supporting them to attack their real or potential enemies elsewhere.

Many Western experts assume that the more educated, less parochial younger Saudi royals would guide their country away from their elders’ policies of reliance on religious extremism and its byproduct, terrorism. The recently elevated younger princes, namely Interior Minister and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Naif and Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed Bin Salman, do not currently have the final say in making policies. However, given their current behavior, there is no reason to assume that they will be less brutal than their predecessors. In fact, the princes of the third generation are behaving more aggressively and brutally than their elders, as exemplified by their execution of the Saudi policy of invading and inflicting unspeakable suffering on their poverty stricken neighbor, Yemen. It’s worth noting that Al-Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula, the West’s sworn enemy and the architect and executor of the 9/11 attack on the US, is the singular beneficiary of the murderous Saudi campaign in Yemen.

The analysts’ and Western governments’ admiration for Prince Mohammed Bin Naif and his monocratic family as strong allies in the “War on Terrorism” reflects the former’s naive view of the birth and rise to power of the Saudi/Wahhabi ruling families and their cunning methods of misleading others into believing that the Saudi regime is reliable and loyal. Having successfully used terror tactics to conquer their adversaries at home and form their state, the Saudi rulers know that terrorism (including torture, beheadings, flogging and oppressing women) is the most effective means to achieve their objectives, in the past, now and in the future. In a recent major Arab interior ministers’ meeting in Morocco to “to fight terrorism,” Crown Prince Mohammed told the conventioneers that the pan-Arab Muslim Brotherhood party must be obliterated, a goal that can only be achieved by using terror strategies, given the fact that the Brotherhood is stateless and functions all over the world.

The West’s sense of its invincibility and pursuit of short term economic interests have blinded it to the Saudi royals’ long term objectives: religious totalitarianism over all Sunni Muslims. In addition to successfully spreading their iron-fisted religious and financial influence worldwide, the Saudi rulers are brazenly escalating their political interventions and direct military actions, as in Bahrain and Yemen and promoting regime-change, as in Egypt, Syria and Iraq, all for the purpose of enforcing their dogma and insuring their supremacy.

Given King Salman’s age and poor health, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Naif is certain to be the next king of Saudi Arabia, unless a palace coup is to occur. At the age of 55, the Crown Prince is likely to rule for at least 3 to 4 decades, baring incapacitation. The quandary that Western regimes (without whose support and protection the Saudi royals may not survive) are facing is whether to continue supporting an absolute anti-human rights regime that breeds and utilizes extremism and terrorism, including targeting Western interests and values; or to support pro-democracy and pro-social justice Saudi women and men, including reform-minded royals.

Given these realities, can Crown Mohammed Ibn Naif (and most of his family members for that matter) be considered an ally of the West in the “War on Terrorism,” when he historically has been an active participant in his government’s policies and actions aimed at maintaining its absolute rule and expanding its supremacy in the Muslim World, which can only be achieved by ensuring that democracy and human rights are crushed?

The Saudi Foreign Minister Should Record And Listen To Himself Mutilating Reality

CDHR’s Commentary: Standing next to German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, an admirer of and apologist for the Saudi oligarchs, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubair (a non- royal, but more “royal” than the royals) reiterated King Salman’s incredible assertions that human rights, including women’s, are guaranteed by the Saudi religious laws. Like his King, Al-Jubair admits that human rights in Saudi Arabia are based on “religious” doctrines, not in compliance with the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which the Saudi regime is a signatory.

Al-Jubair, like other Saudi officials, contradicted himself in the same sentence by saying that the Saudi judicial system is independent. How can it be independent when the Quran is the state’s constitution and the Shariah is its law? All Saudi courts are staffed by the king’s hand-picked religiously trained judges who must be loyal to the king (not to equality and justice) and a zealous adherent to the domestically and globally detested Saudi 18th century Wahhabi doctrine. As if Minister Al-Jubair’s blatant mutilation of the truth were not enough, he told a questioner asking about the forbidding and barbaric punishment imposed on an enlightened Saudi blogger, Raif Badawi, that Saudi Arabia does not and will not tolerate interference in its domestic affairs by others.

Does not such response make Al-Jubair look and sound arrogant and untrustworthy?  Isn’t the government he proudly serves pursuing a gory war against the 26 million poverty stricken Yemenis, occupying Bahrain, financially sustaining a military dictatorship in Egypt, insisting on the overthrow of the Assad regime in Syria, supporting extremist insurgencies in Syria and Iraq and working doggedly to bully the UN into passing a global resolution outlawing freedom of expression in the guise of respecting religions?

Saudi clerics brand their extremist pupils “Deviants for aiding Islam foes”

CDHR’s Commentary: If the Saudi clerics want to defeat “deviants” (Muslim extremists and terrorists) and end, or at least minimize, the ongoing ravaging sectarian death and destruction committed by “deviants” (at home and abroad), then there is no better place to start than at home. The Saudi clerics are the conceivers, incubators, nurturers, indoctrinators and exporters of the “deviants” they accuse of “aiding Islam foes.”

With the blessing and unequivocal support of the Saudi royals, especially King Salman, the Saudi religious establishment controls Saudi schools, mosques, social mores and behavior and is entrusted with the interpretation and application of Muslim holy books, especially the arbitrary Shariah law.

Other than the royals, the clerics are the only segment in Saudi society that is free to open, own and operate private television and radio media outlets, express their views and promote their well-known lethal brand of Islam, Wahhabism.  The Saudi clerics use their unfettered media outlets and other forums (mosques) to demonize three groups in Saudi society, including   Shi’a Muslims, whom the clerics label as “polytheist infidels.”   It’s worth noting that polytheism and atheism can incur the death penalty under the Saudi Shariah law.

The clerics’ other major targets are Saudi women and free thinking tolerant reformers. They consider and treat women as if they were subhuman, created by God to corrupt and destroy society’s supreme Islamic values and superior traditions. The clerics also target pro-social justice and pro-democracy reformers. They accuse them of trying to create divisions within Saudi society, disobeying the king and destabilizing the country.

In reality, no one creates more disorder in Saudi Arabia, defames Islam, tarnishes the Saudi state’s and society’s image and incites major conflicts among Muslims and between Muslims and non-Muslims than the Saudi government’s paid clerics, who advocate religious intolerance, suppression of women and who brand reformers as apostate enemies of Islam.

Solution? Confine clerics to worship instead of employing them as tools of intimidation, oppression and social disorder.

Your contributions to CDHR’s efforts to address tough issues, invoke thought-provoking discourse and suggest peaceful solutions are crucial. We need to continue our educational outreach worldwide. CDHR is a 501 (c) 3 tax exempt educational organization.

Please go to our website www.cdhr.info and click on donate.

Or send checks to this address:

Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, CDHR

1050 17 St. NW, Suite 1000

Washington, DC 20036


Last Updated on Friday, 20 November 2015 03:42

Commentaries and Analysis

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Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, CDHR, Washington DC

July 2, 2015

Saudi-Wahhabi Schisms, King’s Promises and Freedom of Expression, Elites and Public Well-being

CDHR’s Commentaries and Analysis

The Foreseeable Extinction of The Saudi/Wahhabi Alliance

CDHR’s Analysis: More than at any time in its history, the Saudi ruling family is facing domestic and external challenges and threats that can result in domestic strife which the autocratic system cannot handle even with external support, including military intervention from the region or the West. Despite the Saudi rulers’ and their beneficiaries’ assertions to the contrary, the most looming threat to the Saudi oligarchy is not external, but springs from the regime’s source of  legitimacy and power base, its rigidly indoctrinated Wahhabis, without whose ferocious services, the Saudi royals could not have been able to survive as they have.

While the Saudi/Wahhabi partnership has not always been easy or peaceful, as exemplified by Ibn Saud’s slaughter of rebellious  Ikhwan in 1929 , by King Faisal’s 1964 deadly confrontation with religious zealots when he introduced girls’ education (a move that resulted in his assassination in 1975) and by anti-monarchy zealots’ takeover of Mecca’s Grand Mosque in 1979 (which almost brought down the House of Saud if it weren’t for  French commandos from the Groupe d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale), it has endured for many decades. However, overt defiant criticism by and insubordination of prominent popular clerics, schisms within the religious establishment and steadily escalating differences between the royals and their zealot supporters over social, political and educational issues represent ser ious and irreconcilable divisions that could presage the coming end of the Saudi/Wahhabi alliance.

The centuries old Saudi/Wahhabi power-sharing is based on convenient, albeit duplicitous, promises made by two men, a nomadic chief (the forefather of the House of Saud, Mohammed Ibn Saud) and another nomadic zealot (the founder of the rigid Wahhabi dogma) Mohammed Ibn Abdul Wahhab in 1744 in Dir-e-yah. The latter is a small wasteland village which the current ultraconservative Saudi King Salman is intensely reviving in the hope of reassuring the descendants of Abdul Wahhab of his family’s commitment to upholding the original Saudi/Wahhabi partnership, which his predecessor challenged over educational and social issues.

King Salman’s predecessor, King Abdullah was prompted by well-known members of the royal family like his reform-minded half-brother Prince Talal and Abdullah’s intellectual nephew, Prince Khalid Al-Faisal, as well as some of King Abdallah’s offspring, namely Princes Miteb and Mishal and Princesses Adela and Setta, to undertake some “reforms” to respond to public demands and to give people hope for a better future.

Abdallah removed a number of prominent zealots, appointed women to government agencies, tried to relax restrictions on Shi’a religious rituals and allowed the government’s controlled media to discuss sensitive issues, as long as the royals could only be exalted. These cosmetic but psychologically important initiatives created positive reactions among many Saudis, but increased suspicion among many clerics about the royals’ motives, conduct and commitment to the anti-reform Wahhabi ideology.

Granted, the Saudi/Wahhabi partnership has served its creators, users and beneficiaries well domestically and externally for centuries. However, the alliance seems to be developing serious differences over its domestic andregional objectives and policies. This is due to changing variables, new players, shifting alliances, unprecedented regional mass revolutions, increasing domestic demands for reforms and rising public intolerance of a repressive system that continues to operate as if the earth is flat, time is standing still and human evolution is delusional. The most obvious example of this mummified mindset is the ruling Saudi/Wahhabi elite’s attitude toward and treatment of women as this video and this article demonstrate.

Divisions have been developing between those clerics who oppose any change in the status quo, like the Mufti and his circle of intransigent clerics, and clerics who call for moderate reforms, like Dr. Salman Al-Awdah, who has 2.4 million social media followers. Additionally, other clerics, like Mohsen Al-Awaji, call fora constitutional monarchy, question gender segregation, the ban on women driving and women’s dress code and call for an end to the regime’s rampant corruption.

Cleric Dr. Salman Al-Awdah painted a grim picture of the public mood which he attributed to ‘…a lack of housing, unemployment, poverty, corruption, weak health and education systems, the plight of the detainees and the absence of any prospect of political reform.’ Dr. Al-Awdah went on to warn the Saudi regime of severe repercussions if it continues its repressive practices and usurpation of people’s rights: ‘Like people around the world, the Saudi people will not always be silent about forfeiting all or part of their rights… When someone loses hope, you should expect anything from him.’

Even the former chief of the ferocious religious police, Shaikh Ahmed Al-Ghamdi broke away from the religious establishment’s rigid restrictions when he brought his wife to a TV studio without a face cover, which he says is unnecessary according to Islam.

When prominent clerics publically warn and denounce the system they have legitimized, protected and served for generations, such loss of allegiance threatens the pillars upon which the Saudi state was founded and upon which it stands. However, the threats posed by these advocates of moderate and overdue reforms pale in comparison with the threats posed by an increasing number of extremist clerics and many of their  followers who, for example, believe ISIS is a better alternative to the monarchy, which many consider corrupt and incapable of defending their values.

The challenges posed by moderate and extremist clerics and their millions of followers are not only undermining the legitimacy and powerbase of the royal family, but could plunge the country into civil and sectarian war. Unlike the ongoing bloody turmoil in other Arab countries, upheaval in Saudi Arabia will have far reaching repercussion due to the country’s centrality to Islam, its role in the global economy and the international reach of the lethal Saudi dogma, Wahhabism.

The Saudi regime’s extensive and expensive efforts to stop or reverse events in the region and to silence its domestic critics, especially pro-social justice advocates and cleric dissenters, are indicative of its covert recognition that the diverse public discontent and regional upheavals are weighing on the regime’s sense security. Developments like the Arab Spring, Western/Iranian fence mending and the rise of Sunni Muslim rivals such the Nahdah in Tunisia, theMuslim Brotherhood and ISIS pose unprecedented threats not only to the Saudi’s self-proclaimed leadership of Sunni Islam, but to the legitimacy of the Saudi system in its current theo-autocratic form and to the political survival of its operators.

Given these realities, the Saudi monarchy has two choices. It can continue augmenting its historical self-serving relations with the zealots, thus perpetuating its current exclusive sectarian methods of ruling, thereby risking domestic and regional threats and increasing global isolation. Or it can introduce necessary non-sectarian reforms to begin the process of including the overwhelming majority of the disenfranchised Saudi population in the functions and all decision-making processes of the state. This course of action would drastically widen the schism between the monarchy and the zealots, whose loyalty is already eroding and will likely continue to erode due to the appeal and successes of like-minded groups such as ISIS.

Despite King Salman’s and other members of the old guard’s attachment to the past and their dependence on the Wahhabi dogma, the odds are mounting against the continuity of the alliance as it is. In addition to the growing schisms between previous monarchs and the religious establishment and the ideological regional appeal of formidable extremists, the mounting domestic resentment toward the rulers’ use of religion as a tool of oppression and terrorism makes the disintegration of the alliance inevitable. Furthermore, the Wahhabi indoctrinated and inspired terrorists are creating regional and global animosity toward the monarchy, the country and Saudi society.

These well-known and undeniable factors give the Saudi rulers no option (if major strife is to be avoided), but to accept that the religious establishment is becoming a liability and is endangering the country and the monarchy itself. The ruling family’s safest and most pragmatic option is to relinquish its claim of exclusive ownership of the country and share legislative powers with all citizens, thus drawing its legitimacy from the people. This transition can be achieved peacefully and will provide citizens with a sense of ownership of their country, giving them a reason to defend it from internal and external enemies.

King Salman: “Equality and Freedom of Expression” Are Guaranteed

CDHR’s Commentary: During a meeting with his government’s human right groups in May 2015, King Salman told his carefully selected government agencies’ employees that, ‘The foundation of the State is based on adherence to the Islamic Shariah, which calls for the protection of human rights. The rule of our country was established on the basis of justice, consultation and equality. The State’s systems are integrated into the protection of rights, achievement of justice, guaranteeing freedom of expression, impartiality and addressing the causes and reasons of division.’ The king continued to emphasize his point, ‘All citizens are equal in rights and duties, and the Basic Governing Law states that the State shall protect human rights in line with the Islamic Shariah.’

This is an incredibly deceptive and exaggerated description of the autocratic Saudi monarchy’s policies and practices. By any standard, the Saudi society is one of the most oppressed societies in the world and no one knows it better than the Saudis themselves, especially those who tried to express their opinion peacefully and now languish in King Salman’s dungeons. For example, a group of courageous, highly educated, pro-democracy and social justice citizens formed a peaceful and inclusive non-governmental organization, the “Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association,” led by two visionary professors, Mohammed Fahd al-Qahtani and Abdullah Hamad, who were accused of treason and sentenced, along with their colleagues, to lengthy imprisonments in 2013.

Contrary to King Salman’s claims, many Saudi men and women free thinkers, equality seekers, liberals, human rights and social justice advocates are consistently arrested, interrogated (Saudi style in the torture chambers in the basement of the notorious Ministry of Interior), tried in terrorist- designated courts and thrown into Saudi dungeons for publically expressing their opinion about the government’s polices.

The Saudi “Government Basic Law” which King Salman referenced when he lectured his government’s human rights appointees was decreed by King Fahd in 1992. It was written by the ruling family for the purpose of re-enforcing the royals’ perpetual rule and absolute control over the country. For example, article 5 of the Basic Law states that the “Rule passes to the sons of the founding King, Abd al-Aziz Bin Abd al-Rahman al-Faysal Al Sa'ud, and to their children's children.” Article 6 demands absolute submission to the will of the king at all times under all conditions and circumstances, as stipulated in the Quran and Prophet Mohammed’s tradition. “Citizens are to pay allegiance to the King in accordance with the holy Koran and the tradition of the Prophet, in submission and obedience, in times of ease and difficulty, fortune and adversity.”

In face of overwhelming evidence that contradicts King Salman’s hollow assertions that all citizens regardless of gender, race, ethnicity or religious orientation are equal under Saudi law and are free to express their opinions, the king is either delusional, incoherent or absurdly assuming that people are utterly oblivious and that time is standing still and people never change.  King Salman, his religious establishment, hired advisors and apologists ought to know that, like all peoples, the Saudis are affected by regional and global events and by the uncontrollable flow of globalized information that exposes all forms of injustice, exploitation, discrimination, inequality and differences between democratic and absolute systems.

“Saudi Arabia is the world’s last absolute monarchy” and saying that it is just, egalitarian and free does not make it so.

King Salman “Vows to Punish the Assassins of Shi’a

CDHR’s Commentary: Two days after the murderous attack on Shi’a worshippers in eastern Saudi Arabia on Friday, May 22, 2015, King Salman promised that ‘Any participant, planner, supporter or sympathizer with this heinous crime will be held accountable, tried and will receive the punishment he deserves.’ Not surprisingly, the missing key word in the king’s list of those who will be punished for their role in the crimes against Shi’a is the inciters, the Saudi clerics. King Salman’s religious establishment of which he is a staunch supporter considers the Shi’a heretics, “rejectionist” and “deviants,” therefore suitable candidates for extinction.

The never ending violent Sunni-Shi’a split begun after the death of Prophet Mohammed more than 14 centuries ago and has subsequently gained momentum and become more lethal, especially since the founding of the unbending Saudi brand of Islam, Wahhabism, in the middle of the 18th century. As has been described by many Muslims and non-Muslims, “Wahhabi Islam really is a loathsome and dangerous ideology.” The philosophy of attacking and murdering Shi’a is disseminated in mosques, schools and living rooms in Saudi Arabia and in other majority Sunni countries.

Condemnation of and discrimination against the Shi’a is legal in Saudi Arabia as stated in the Saudi government basic law: “According to the basic law, Sunni Islam is the official religion and the country's constitution is the Qur'an and the Sunna (traditions and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad). The legal system is based on the government's application of the Hanbali School of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence.” Given this practice, how can the Saudi Shi’a get fair treatment or equality under the current Saudi regime and its sectarian laws? Despite King Salman’s and his clerics’ condemnation of crimes committed against their Shi’a citizens, promises by Saudi officials to punish Wahhabi-inspired terrorists in or out of Saudi Arabia are preposterous.

As long as the creators and implementers of the dangerous Saudi dogma, Wahhabism, re-enforce intolerance toward Shi’a in and out of Saudi Arabia, there can be no justice for Shi’a, nor can there be social harmony or equality for them in their own homelands. This trend is likely to intensify under King Salman’s reign, as exemplified by his war against the Houthis in Yemen and his determination to continue his family’s support for the minority Sunni government in Bahrain in its efforts to crush the aspiring majority Shi’a population in that country.

Attacking and killing Shi’a in eastern Saudi Arabia may spiral out of control and may reach the door steps of the royals themselves, as exemplified by the May 29 car suicide bomber who blew himself up in front of a Shi’a mosque, killing four people and injuring others. This mayhem took place in Dammam, the power seat of the Eastern Province of the country where the massive Saudi oil facilities and a large Shi’a population share the same region.

Given the unparalleled domestic and regional threats and amassed enemies facing the Saudi regime and its kingdom, it might only be a matter of time before the targeted Saudi Shi’a or one of the other Saudi regime’s enemies, such as ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Al-Houthis or the Muslim Brotherhood, decide to blow up one of the massive and vulnerable oil facilities in Eastern Saudi Arabia where oppressed Shi’a and Western expatriates work and live.  Thousands of miles of oil pipelines, as well as scores of storage tank farms, refineries, oil fields, harbors and the expansive oil administrative headquarters in Dhahran are easy targets despite the vigilance of Saudi and foreign security forces.

If this scenario were to occur, it’s more likely than not that the US will use its Persian Gulf naval and ground military might to ensure the defense, production and shipment of oil to the world’s markets in order to prevent global economic meltdown. The question is at what price to the Saudi people, to the US and other oil consuming powers?  Can a costly military intervention by the US to protect oil be minimized or avoided? Potentially, yes, if the Saudi oligarchy is willing or can be induced to embark upon doable political reforms so that all citizens (regardless of religion, race, region or gender) are legislatively empowered to participate in all aspects of their country’s affairs, including all decision-making processes, disposition of the country’s wealth and the formulation and execution of domestic and foreign policies.

Would it not be more pragmatic, safer and less costly for the Saudi monarchy’s major allies, the US and its democratic allies, to make it unequivocally clear to the Saudi royals that the status quo is unsustainable?  Given the Saudi regime’s history and mindset, it’s likely that this proposal will be vehemently rejected. However, the Saudi regime can be convinced, especially at this juncture in its history when it has never been more vulnerable, that its options are limited.

The Saudi Royals, Businessmen And Clerics Have Things In Common, Including Suppression, Larceny And Hypocrisy

CDHR’s Commentary: Wealthy Saudi businessmen like this one and their royal and religious partners live in the most expansive and expensive palaces, mansions and chateaus throughout the world, especially in democratic Europe and in the US. While this is taking place, millions of Saudi people are suffering from poverty, unemployment and numerous diseases, including diabetes, heart ailments, malnutrition and genetic syndromes due to inter-marriage. Furthermore, the most progressive Saudi advocates of human rights, social justice, accountability, transparency, freedom of expression, religious tolerance and equality for women and religious minorities are languishing in Saud i prisons, awaiting flogging or other forms of retribution.

All segments of Saudi society know the hypocrisy and misdeeds of the ruling elites and their partners in the looting of public wealth. The people are becoming increasingly resentful of the way they are being ruled, exploited and abused by their political and religious rulers and by the wealthy Saudi businessmen who hardly invest in human development or in the well-being of Saudi society.

Additionally, the Saudi people are not only languishing under  their regime’s severe domestic policies, but they are also paying the price for Saudi foreign policies which include, but are not limited to, exportation of lethal ideology,support for extremists and terrorists worldwide and more recently, by the Saudi royals’ intervention militarily and subversively in most Arab and Muslim countries, such as Yemen, Bahrain, Egypt, Pakistan, Iraq and Syria. Consequently, the Saudi people are among the most detested people in the world.

Myopically, Western decision-makers, traditional think tanks and prominent educational institutions not only look the other way when it comes to the Saudis’ draconian domestic and perilous foreign policies, but defend the Saudi regime as an ally in the war on terrorism. This is dangerous because in reality,Western Civilization and its democratic values are the targets of Saudi dogma-inspired terror groups like Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Al-Gamaat Al-Islamiyya and many others.

Unless the Saudi political, religious and business elites and their Western partners realize that the current status quo of repression, exploitation, intolerance and inequality for women and minorities is unsustainable and act to remedy the situation, a mob-like uprising is inescapable. The Saudi regime ought to embark on transitioning to a more inclusive society where all citizens participate in all aspects of the state’s activities, especially the decision-making processes. Continuing to claim that all is well, stable and ideal is suicidal given the current realities of the Middle East.

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Last Updated on Saturday, 04 July 2015 11:02

King Salman's Agenda--Perlious?

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Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, CDHR, Washington DC

May 7, 2015

King Salman’s Power Consolidation, Dangerous Foreign Adventures and Liberating Social Media

CDHR’s Commentaries and Analysis


Saudi Invasion of Yemen: A Perilous Blunder

CDHR’s Analysis: Invading and inflicting enduring devastation on their perceived domestic opponents and external enemies are not new to the monocratic and theocratic Saudi rulers. Long before and since the establishment of their kingdom in 1932, the Saudi/Wahhabi allies have invaded and engaged in gory wars against other tribes and people of different religious orientations throughout the vast desert of the Arabian Peninsula and beyond.

The grisly Saudi/Wahhabi movement is based on their interpretation of Islam, which means that anyone who does not fit into what they decide to be the correct Islam is a deviant (Thal), consequently, a legitimate target of redemption/cleansing by force. This practice includes all adherents of all brands and sects of the Muslim faith, which was established and practiced more than 1,000 years before the Saudi/Wahhabi dogma, Wahhabism, was contrived in 1744.

Two years after the establishment of the Saudi/Wahhabi state in 1932, the Saudi monarchy expanded its territorial acquisition southward into what was Yemeni territory at that time. They employed the same violent methods they used to subjugate the multitude of tribes they invaded and conquered between 1774 and 1932.  The Yemenis resisted the Saudi advances, but were defeated by the Saudi/Wahhabi zealots in 1934.

After the war, the Yemenis signed an agreement with the Saudis, known as the 1934 Taif Treaty, which was understood to mean that the Saudis would retain the agriculturally fertile Asir and Najran regions, while the Yemenis would have free border access to visit and trade with their former compatriots who resided in the captured territories. There was no legally established border between the Saudi and Yemeni territories except in the “westernmost part of the border, adjacent to the Red Sea, and in the process several ethnically Yemeni areas became Saudi territory.”

Numerous subsequent attempts were made to settle the contested Saudi-Yemeni borders, including the signing of the “Jeddah border agreement in 2000, whereby Yemen eventually conceded the decades-long disputed provinces of Asir, Najran, and Jizan.” However, in 2012, the names of the Yemeni officials who negotiated and signed onto the agreement were found to be recipients of Saudi largess. This led to questioning of the legality of the 2000 agreement, many Yemenis arguing that not only the 2000, but the 1934 agreements are null and void.

Despite failed border agreements, the 1,100 mile long Saudi-Yemeni border was relatively peaceful and mostly respected by both parties from 1934 until 1962. During that period, Yemen was ruled by Zaidi Kings Yahya and Ahmed. The majority of the Zaidis (an offshoot of Shi’a Islam) resides in a large area along the Yemeni side of the border.

In 1962, the Yemeni military overthrew the Zaidi monarchy, inspired by Arab nationalism spearheaded by Nasser of Egypt who was dedicated to the overthrow of all Arab monarchies, especially the Saudis, whom he accused of being “puppets” of Western colonialism and imperialism. When pro-monarchy Yemenis resisted the military takeover, Nasser dispatched Egyptian forces to ensure the success of the coup. Alarmed by Nasser’s involvement in Yemen, the Saudi royals invited and opened their borders to the Yemeni royalists whom they housed, fed, armed, trained and sent back across the border to fight the Egyptian-supported republican Yemeni government.

When the Saudis and the royalists failed to restore the deposed Zaidi King, most of the Zaidis went back to their home region (Saadah) along the Saudi border. They were subsequently marginalized by the Yemeni central government for decades until they started fighting for their rights in the 1990s.

Between 1962 and 2004, the Zaidis (aka Houthis, named after their leader, Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi) who had ruled Yemen for 1000 years, were used by the Saudis and by the Yemeni central government to advance their separate territorial and political interests and influence. However, the Houthis began their fight to restore their political and economic rights in 2004 by attacking the central government of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in whose downfall in 2012 the Saudis and the Houthis played major roles, although for different reasons. The Saudi rulers wanted to install a Yemeni government they could control while the Houthis wanted to rule, a daunting outcome the Saudis dread.

When the Saudis realized that the ruthless Houthis (apparently with Iranian help) were gaining the upper hand in the bloody Yemeni conflict, they decided to invade Yemen in the hope of weakening the Houthis and imposing a settlement that will ensure uncontested Saudi influence over Yemeni domestic politics and external policies and affiliations. The Saudi rulers assembled a horde of Arab and Muslim autocratic regimes to participate in a massive air campaign against the Houthis, who by now have conquered most of Yemen and expelled its President who resides in Saudi Arabia now and probably for years to come.

On March 26, 2015, the Saudi oligarchy and like-minded (hired) Arab regimes amassed a deadly fleet of modern aircraft (185 jetfighters-Yemen does not have an air force to speak of) and began a devastating bombardment of Yemen, supposedly to destroy the Houthi’s military and political gains and to restore Yemen’s “legitimate” president. Four weeks into the unwinnable war, the Saudi rulers realized that they may have committed a colossal mistake as evidenced by their failure to impede the Houthis’ advances. Faced with rapidly ebbing enthusiasm among the members of the “hired” coalition, growing global scorn, pressure from the US, fear of confrontation with Iran and/or its proxies, anxiety over domestic unrest and internal royal conflict, the Saudi rulers congratulated each other, praised the king for winning the war and declared “mission accomplished.” However, they continued the bombardment to save face or in hopes of salvaging some gains from the fiasco. This might be delusional given “… the endemic hostility of the ordinary Yemeni and his traditional contempt for Saudis.”

Despite the Saudis’ self-congratulatory declarations, reality on the ground contradicts their assertions. The Houthi advances continue unabated, restoring the deposed (“legitimate”) Yemeni president is unlikely, Yemeni unity and security are shattered, more than 1,000 Yemenis have been killed, an additional 4,000 wounded, 150,000 families displaced, and 7. 5 million other Yemenis have been negatively affected by the Saudi blitzkrieg and by shortages of food and medical supplies due to Saudis’ sea blockade.

Given this ghastly outcome, the Saudis may have bought some time by weakening the Houthis’ and their allies’ war capabilities, heightening divisions within Yemeni society and prolonging the struggle among different power-seeking groups. In the long run, however, invading and inflicting death and destruction in Yemen will not only increase animosity toward the Saudis among all Yemenis, but could tilt the balance in favor of those who advocate tolerance, a rational approach to problem solving and popular participation in governance.

On the other hand, the Saudi-coordinated and-led war in Yemen could strengthen terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS and embolden the Muslim Brotherhood, all of whom are dedicated to the overthrow of the Saudi monarchy.

Saudi Women’s and Human Rights Advocates’ Trepidation Is Justified

As predicted in this commentary which was written immediately after King Salman’s ascension to the throne in January 2015, his actions thus far have confirmed our misgivings as we explained in the next commentary.

CDHR’s Commentary: While it may be a little premature to predict what King Salman’s agenda for Saudi Arabia might be, given his religious affiliations and bleak record regarding women’s rights and his staunch opposition to power-sharing and democratic reforms, it is safe to assume that women’s rights, religious tolerance, the advancement of human rights, civil society, codified rule of law and public participation in the decision-making processes will not shine under his watch. He and his Sudairi wing of the incredibly power-drugged princes (known as the Sudairi Seven) still believe, act and behave as if the country is their private property. In July, 2013, a defecting Prince, Khalid Al-Farhan Al-Saud professed that “Those holding power in the kingdom do believe that they own the state: Land and people. They insist to run the cou ntry with this belief despite political awareness of the people and repeated calls for justice and freedom.”

To remind the Saudi people of his family’s claim to the ownership of the country, after inheriting the throne in January 2015, King Salman summoned his new appointees to swear the oath of allegiance to him in the exact location (Diriyah) where the Saudi/Wahhabi alliance was formed in 1744. Since then, he has been receiving other visiting Gulf royals, European and the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, in Dir-e-yah to show and explain to them the history of the Saudi family’s first capital with which he has been obsessed and on which he has been spending millions of dollars of public revenues to restore dozens of its mud buildings to look like they did more than two and half centuries ago.

Given his unwavering belief in his family’s ownership of the country, King Salman is unlikely to consider, let alone implement, any political reform measures that might imply public co-ownership of the country. Additionally, King Salman is committed to the strengthening of and adherence to the globally reviled Wahhabi/ Salafi dogma as exemplified by his close ties with and support for the zealous Saudi religious establishment and extensive connections with global zealot groups.

It’s not surprising that Saudi citizens, especially women, are apprehensive about their fate under Salman’s rule. As one Saudi woman stated, ‘His brother {King Abdullah} opened the road and now he will close it,’ she declared and went on to explain, ‘We know he is closer to the religious people than Abdullah was.’ Her and other Saudi reformers’ fear of King Salman and his Sudairi relatives’ unequivocal opposition to political reforms is justified. Their apprehension and resentment are shared by some of the ruling princes who have been critical of Salman and his wing of the family’s unflinching resistance to sharing power with other wi ngs of the ruling family. Prince Talal, a long time promoter of “social contract” between the monarchy and its subjects, accused the Sudairi supremacist, “Here, the family is the master and the ruler.”

During his 60 year tenure as the governor of the Saudi capital, Riyadh, King Salman expanded and modernized the desert city’s infrastructure, but did very little to prepare its population to embrace modernity and its complex scientific and technological demands. He did not initiate scientific or liberal arts schools. He expanded and strengthened extremist educational institutions such as Imam Mohammed Ibn Saud University, which is known for graduating hardcore Imams and recruits for Al-Qaeda. He never hired and promoted any woman to an executive position. He had an opportunity to show Saudi women that their suspicion of his anti-women attitude and practice is unfounded, but he did not. He could have appointed at least a woman among his new appointees when inherited the throne in January, but he did not.

Like his late full brothers, former Interior Minister Naif and Defense Minister Sultan, King Salman is a staunch supporter of the ferocious religious police whose job is to ensure women’s head- to-toe coverings, gender segregation, enforcement of prayer five times a day and to arrest, interrogate and imprison anyone they consider uncompliant with the repressive and medieval social mores they create and enforce.

One can only hope that King Salman and his administration will realize that the new generation of Saudi women is very different from their mothers and grandmothers. They are educated, very well-informed and irrepressible. Empowering Saudi women voluntarily can only strengthen, stabilize and propel the socially and politically lagging society into a peaceful, just, tolerant, unified and participatory polity.

King Salman’s Consolidation of Power Is Neither Surprising Nor Unexpected

CDHR’s Analysis: Many Saudis, royals and commoners, knew that King Salman’s ascendance to the throne would not be peaceful, reconciliatory, reform oriented or open to ideas, suggestions or advice. This is based on his record of staunch belief in the supremacy of the people of Nejd (birth place of his ancestors and their violent rise to power), his opposition to political reforms, his support for the lethal revisionist Wahhabi dogma, his close ties to the domestic zealot establishment and his association with extremists worldwide.

Domestically, King Salman is known for having zero tolerance for any dissension or for people (commoners or royals) who advocate any change in the old order: his autocratic family’s birth right to own and rule the country as if it were a private family enterprise. This is why his dismissal of powerful princes did not come as an unexpected undertaking to those inside the country who know him best, but fear his reprisal if they dare describe him as what he is, an absolute opponent of political pluralism now   and forever.

Contrary to King Salman’s claim that he sacked his half-brother, Crown Prince Migrin and his nephew, Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal and replaced them with like-minded and obedient princes, his son Mohammed and his dreaded nephew, Mohammed Bin Naif and a “yes-man” commoner, Adel Al-Jubair, because of his burning desire to place the most fit men in top positions to run the county’s business, in reality his objectives were deeper and more ominous.  Salman’s real objective is to ensure the eternal perpetuation of his family’s rule, specifically his Sudairi­ wing of the family.

In order to guarantee that political reform and democratization do not occur during his reign and long after he is gone, King Salman installed a younger generation of the Sudairis in top governmental posts, apparently confident that they will continue their elders’ autocratic rule.

King Salman’s claim that he placed the best and most qualified people in charge of the country’s affairs did not convince many Saudis. They know that Salman has and will always put the royal family’s interest before and above the well-being of the population.

If King Salman’s performance and initiatives thus far are indicative of what his domestic agenda will be, it’s safe to assume that he will re-entrench his family’s “birth right” ownership of the country. For example, he is slowly transitioning the seat of power from the current capital Riyadh to Diriyah, the original capital of the Saudi/Wahhabi alliance (1744), whose restoration is King Salman’s ‘…first personal dedication of any project since assuming the throne,’ according to his son Prince Sultan.

In his first speech when he inherited the throne in January 2015, King Salman further hinted at his intention of returning to the ruling methods of the founders of the state, including his father, King Abdulaziz. He praised the latter for his vision and policies to which Salman attributed the country’s subsequent unity, prosperity and stability. Given Salman’s history, this implies that he will rely on intimidation, intolerance and use of sheer force to rule the country in the same manner his father did.

Anticipating Salman’s projected ruling methods, many Saudis express pessimism and fear via communication in person, print, audio or visual media. The hopeful expectations of reform, albeit cosmetic, during King Abdullah’s reign seem to have been replaced by pessimism domestically and by apprehension about King Salman’s regional policies, such as the ill-advised costly invasion of Yemen.

Public pessimism is shared by the few liberal leaning and empathetic male and female royals who had vocalized measured support for minimum individual rights, as they did during King Abdullah’s era. They rightfully fear being locked up in Salman’s private prison or worse for voicing opinions in favor of any reform.

Admittedly, King Salman inherited the throne at a time when his family and kingdom are facing the most challenging threats in their history. Rather than navigating a path that might spare the country a violent cataclysm, as exemplified by the consuming turmoil plaguing the Arab World, King Salman has chosen to turn backward hoping to avoid the inevitable.

Transformational Process Through Social Media

CDHR’s Comment: The social media is slowly transforming the Arab peoples’ perceptions of themselves, the root causes of their stagnation and of the world around them. The most evident revolutionary example of this reality is the unprecedented promising dialogue between young Arabs and their counterparts in Israel, a country most Arabs (including this one) are raised to fear and hate.  For many centuries, the Arab autocracies and theocracies contrived external enemies and stoked rejection of the mighty, transformative Western technological inventions and democratic values as eloquently illustrated in “What Went Wron g” by Professor Bernard Lewis. In order to divert their disenfranchised populations’ attention from their homegrown political, social, educational, scientific and political stagnation, the Arab regimes blame others, including colonialism, traditions, the West and religion for impeding progress in the Arab World.

However, there are no sources that are more blamed than the United States and Israel. “The grotesquely failed societies of the Middle East desperately need Israel and the US to blame for their self-wrought problems. Neither Washington nor Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are responsible for the Arab world’s pervasive corruption, stagnation, oppression of women and lack of creativity or a work ethic.” Linking the blame on Israel and the US occurs despite the fact that the US’s and Israel’s interests in the Middle East rarely coincide.

Nowhere in the Arab World does one hear or read more condemnation of Israel and the US (for different reasons) than among the regimes and populations of the Gulf Arab states, the West’s close allies and business partners. However, many Arabs have known, but rarely say publically (due to fear of severe reprisals by their governments and socieites), that neither the US nor Israel are the root causes of their societies’ ills. Many Arabs, especially the social media generation, are discovering that their autocratic and theocratic ruling elites and their antiquated institutions are the enemies of progress, equality, freedom of expression, women’s and minorities’ rights and freedom of choice.

Given this burgeoning awareness, the Arab masses, especially in the Gulf region, are realising that no one is more responsible for their lack of social, political and scientific development and progress than their autocratic and theocratic rulers. The Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia (CDHR) and others have been highlighting these facts for years and thanks to the social media, many Saudis and other Arabs (male and female) are realizing that their retarded progress is home-conceived, hatched and nurtured.

As exemplified by this article, media savvy and pro-democracy Arabs, especially youth (women and men) are more forward-looking people than past generations. These young people and other pro-democracy advocates, such as those who gave their lives in the Arab Spring to rid their socieites of iron-fisted dictators, are the best hope for transforming and propelling Arab societies into a more democratic, tolerant and peaceful future.

For the sake of the people of the Middle East, world peace and stability and for the national security of democratic societies, the West should be focusing on supporting freedom-yearning Middle Easterners instead of continuing to appease and protect ruling elites whose survival depends on marginalizing and oppressing their peoples.

Your contributions to CDHR’s efforts to address tough issues, invoke thought-provoking discourse and suggest peaceful solutions are crucial. We need to continue our educational outreach worldwide. CDHR is a 501 (c) 3 tax exempt educational organization.

Please go to our website www.cdhr.info and click on donate.

Or send checks to this address:

Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, CDHR

1050 17 St. NW, Suite 1000,

Washington, DC 20036

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