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Home Current Saudi News & Analysis Imploring Israelis, Fallout of Yemen War

Imploring Israelis, Fallout of Yemen War

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

Nov. 14, 2016

Imploring Israelis, Fallout of Yemen War, Wahhabism, Congress Rebellions

CDHR’s Analysis and Commentaries

Saudis implore Israelis for help

CDHR Analysis: The Saudi royals are petitioning the Israelis to save them. As the president of the Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee, Salman al-Ansari, says in this Hill blog post, the Saudis are imploring Israel to resuscitate their collapsing economy and defend them against their Iranian Muslim brethren.

This should not have come as a surprise, given the Saudi ruling family’s obsession with its security and mistrust of Arab and Muslim regimes, especially the Persians, with whom they share strategic borders and reciprocal religious hatred.

Having risen to and maintained their power by ruthless force, the Saudi rulers have mastered the art of ensuring their survival by all the means they possess, can invent or can buy.

For instance, after concluding that there would be long-term adverse reactions, especially by Americans and their Western allies, to the terrorist attack on the U.S. by mostly Saudi nationals on Sept. 11, 2001, the Saudi rulers resorted to what they know well: creating a diversionary stratagem.

After the 9/11 attack, global media embarked upon an unprecedented exposure of the Saudis’ repressive policies, toxic doctrine and support for Muslim extremists and terrorists worldwide. To counter this, the Saudi rulers tried to refocus global attention on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

They proposed an Arab Peace Initiative, with the intention of achieving two major objectives: to deflect attention from their role in the 9/11 attacks and to pave the way for a future defense alliance with the Israelis, with whom they have shared similar security anxieties about Iran since the fall of the shah and the establishment of the theocratic Islamic Republic in 1979.

However, due to the unrealistic concessions the Israelis were asked to make, they considered the peace plan an unacceptable Arab gambit.

The Israelis saw the peace plan not only as a threat to their country’s identity but to their country’s survival. Given this reality, the plan was shelved until the Obama administration reconstructed U.S. policies toward the Middle East, particularly toward Iran, with which the U.S. and the other members of the United Nations Security Council consummated a nuclear deal vehemently opposed by the Saudis and Israelis, albeit for different reasons.

The Saudi rulers are terrified of being dwarfed by Iran’s burgeoning regional and global influence, and the Israelis are fighting for their survival.

After failing to convince the Obama administration of the flaws of the nuclear deal with Iran, the Israeli and Saudi governments were simpatico in their opposition to the agreement and in their mistrust of the Iranians’ commitment to give up pursuit of nuclear weapons. Consequently, they found themselves more open to each other’s overtures.

The Saudis have intensified their public efforts to lure the Israelis into a defense collaboration. But despite their unease over Iranian threats, the Israelis don’t seem to be in a hurry to enter into an alliance with a shifty authoritarian regime — at least without a tangible public commitment by the Saudis not only to recognize Israel as a sovereign Jewish state but to end its vitriolic demonization of Israelis and Jews at home and abroad.

The Saudis are not in a position to reject Israeli demands, given global awareness of the Saudis’ duplicitous behavior and current conditions in the Middle East.

The question is whether it’s worth it for the Israelis to risk saving and prolonging a crumbling and increasingly isolated system that could turn against them if a better deal with any Israeli enemy is deemed more beneficial by the Saudis.

Given the tumultuous current and foreseeable conditions in the Middle East, Israelis might be better served to stay out of deadly intra-Arab and -Muslim conflicts, despite the Israelis’ desire for normalization of relations with their neighbors.

With or without Arabs’ and Muslims’ recognition of its legitimacy, Israel is in a better position to continue its unparalleled development instead of collaborating with the world’s last absolute, unpopular and unstable monarchy, whose fate is uncertain at best.

Prince Mohammed: Lavishing $500 Million on a Yacht While Squeezing Citizens

CDHR Commentary: According to this effusive account, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi “economic reformer,” spotted a Russian vodka maker’s luxurious yacht while vacationing in southern France and immediately purchased it for $500 million. The neophyte prince, who just happens to be the “favorite” son of Saudi King Salman, has been charged with saving the Saudi kingdom’s faltering economy. At the tender age of 28, he was designated Defense Minister, Deputy Crown Prince, overseer of the Saudis’ collapsing economy and the Chief of the Royal Court. Other than being educated in outmoded Saudi schools and being the son of the most conservative (Islamist) member of the ruling family, Mohammed bin Salman had no previous official title or experience in any of the powerful positions with which he is entrusted.

To assist Prince Mohammed, the Saudi government hired a major Western consulting firm (McKinsey & Co.) to draft an elaborate economic reform plan (dubbed Vision 2030), in hopes of weaning the Saudis from reliance on oil revenues for most of their income. Included in the numerous proposed items in Vision 2030 that the Saudis must undertake to reform their ailing economy are: termination of or drastic reduction in social programs, imposition of new taxes, end subsidized public services and hire millions of unemployed Saudis, among other items.

While the proposed transformative plan sounds plausible on the surface, many analysts, pragmatic observers and skeptical Saudis (who have heard similar proposals before) have their doubts, not only about the project’s success, but some feel it could potentially boomerang. Their pessimism is based on a multitude of domestic factors, specifically, the lack of a knowledge-based workforce, citizens’ historical reliance on government handouts, absence of tested work ethics, rampant corruption, lack of accountability and transparency. Furthermore, no one believes that the thousands of Saudi royals can give up their insatiable lust for extravagant lifestyles, as exemplified by Prince Mohammed’s purchase of a luxurious yacht for $500 million while he is squeezing the Saudi people to shoulder the burden of his project’s austerity.

Yemen: From the Shadows of Obscurity to Potential Regional and Global Quagmire

CDHR Commentary: The ongoing bloody war in Yemen is dangerously spreading and is increasingly becoming more than a civil war in that impoverished country. The Saudi-led coalition’s invasion and indiscriminate bombardments of Yemeni cities, grocery stores, humanitarian hospitals and funeral homes are pushing the Zaidi Yemenis (Houthis) and their supporters into unleashing missile attacks not only against Saudi bordering regions, but deep into Muslims’ holiest city, Mecca. It’s likely that other Gulf states will be targeted because of their participation in the Saudi-led coalition.

More baldly and dangerously, the Yemeni Houthis are reported to have targeted US ships, whose presence in the Red Sea (near Yemen) is intended to enforce a blockade, ostensibly to prevent arms shipments from Iran to Yemen, as well as to safeguard the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf to international markets. It’s worth noting that the Houthis did not have or use missiles prior to the Saudi-led coalition’s invasion in March 2015.

The US and its western allies ought to reconsider their support for the invasion of Yemen and its looming consequences, including lengthy interruption of oil shipments.

Having failed to achieve a quick military victory (if that was their real intention), to draw Iran into the war directly or to beat the Yemenis into submission, the Saudis are beginning to look for an exit strategy. It has been reported that members of the Saudi-led fracturing coalition have realized that the chances of a military victory and re-instatement of the deposed Yemeni President Hadi {now living comfortably in Saudi Arabia, like former Tunisian President Bin Ali and before that, Uganda butcher, Idi Amin} to power are but nix.

Instead of leaving the dangerous raging war in Yemen for the next administration, President Obama and his western counterparts can facilitate a political solution before he leaves office.

The US Congress is Breaking the Deafening Silence

CDHR Commentary: Never in the 8 decade history of US-Saudi relations have the Saudi rulers been more challenged by the US Congress than they have been between May and September 2016. Both Houses of Congress (100 senators and 435 representatives) unanimously passed a bill to allow American families of the victims of the infamous 9/11 terrorist attacks by mostly Saudi nationals to sue the Saudi regime for its implicit support for some of the attackers. Not only did Congress pass the sweeping legislation but overrode President Obama’s veto of the bill.

Additionally, an increasing number of Democrat and Republican members of the US Congress are not only repudiating the Saudi regime for its indiscriminate bombardment and starvation of Yemenis, but “questioning” the wisdom of President Obama’s support for the war and its damaging impact on US global image, interests and democratic values.

The unprecedented Congressional passage of the bill not only affirmed the rights of the relatives of 9/11 victims to seek justice, but to demonstrate that no government, friend or enemy, can be above the rule of law upon which the American nation was founded. Whether one agrees with the unprecedented indictment of the Saudi regime and its extremists and agents or not, members of the US Congress are elected democratically, thus accountable to the American people who elected them and pay their salaries.

Nothing can be more irresponsible, if not a blatant violation of the American people's right to seek justice, than accusing the Americans’ freely elected men and women of being reckless.

Given the current Saudi rulers’ aggressive militaristic policies and defiance of international laws, as well as regional and global political, strategic, social and economic developments, it’s unlikely that the steady deterioration in US-Saudi relations will be stabilized, let alone reversed.

The US Congress’ bold action is a wake-up call for the Saudi absolute rulers, who have long relied on US politicians, businesses and armed forces for their economic stability, their survival and for the defense of their vast desert kingdom.

‘Wahhabism’ “has become a Boogeyman”-- Only in the West?

CDHR Commentary: Mr. Mohammed Alyahya, a Saudi advocate, is only half correct by stating that, “The word ‘Wahhabism’ has become a boogeyman in the West, deemed responsible for the radicalization of Muslims around the world. And since Wahhabism is a strain of Islam that has its origins {established} in the Arabian Peninsula and is the dominant {state imposed} religious doctrine of Saudi Arabia, that country is often viewed as the prime culprit in the propagation of violent extremism."

Well stated, Mr. Alyahya, except for the assertions added by me. Most Muslim scholars (not by Saudi definition), prominent politicians like former president of Indonesia Abdulrahman Wahid and Al-Azhar Mosque’s historians and students of Muslim movements described Wahhabism as the foremost threat to Muslims and non-Muslims, أكد علماء الأزهر والخبراء المتخصصون في دراسة الحركات الإسلامية أن الوهابية فكراً وحركة تمثل العدو الأخطر على المسلمين والعالم،. They called on Muslims and non-Muslims to unite and defeat Wahhabism by all means possible.

The Washington-based Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia agrees with Mr. Alyahya that some of the terrorists’ recruits are not driven solely by religious convictions. However, most if not all Sunni Muslim terrorist groups are inspired by the Saudi/Wahhabi doctrine, indoctrination and text books. As amply documented, these groups including Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Boko Haram, Jamaa Islamiyah, Al-Shabab, Al-Nusra, Abu Sayyaf and ISIS, among others, are financed by Saudi Arabia and its GCC allies. Given the wide distribution and indiscriminate terrorist actions by these groups, Mr. Alyahya’s deflective argument is part of intense Saudis’ efforts to whitewash their role in exporting and financing extremism and terrorism worldwide.

Western Experts Overlook the Reasons for Iran’s Growing Influence

CDHR Commentary: Western experts tend to overlook the root causes of Iran’s increasing influence in Arab countries, especially since the establishment of the theocratic Islamic Republic in 1979.  The Iranian theocracy capitalizes on the plight of Arab Shi’a minorities who have been oppressed and marginalized for centuries by their ruling Sunni regimes and fellow citizen. As abundantly documented, Shi’a Muslims are considered blasphemous by their Sunni rulers and compatriots; consequently, they are considered unworthy of dignity, equality, trust and access to opportunities. Based on this deeply entrenched religious intolerance and hatred, the Arab Shia (whether minorities as in most Arab countries or majorities as in Bahrain and Iraq), are politically, religiously and economically discriminated against to the point of being untouchables and strangers in their own homelands.

Due to their maltreatment by their Sunni regimes and societies, Arab Shi’a turn to Iranian theocrats for help. Iran’s support for the oppressed Arab Shi’a minorities is paying off, as demonstrated by the rise of powerful proxies like Hezbollah (Party of God) in Lebanon, the current Iraqi government and the Zaidis (Houthis) in Yemen, as well as the strengthening and sustaining of the Allawite regime in Syria. Iranian support for these groups and others is changing the political and strategic landscape regionally and globally.

This trend is more likely to continue due to two factors: one, the Shi’a minorities’ conditions are not likely to improve given the widening Sunni/Shi’a conflicts, which reflect the Saudi and the Iranian autocratic and theocratic regimes’ mutual detestation and competition for dominance in the region. Two, the Iranians are in a stronger economic and political position to embolden their proxies as a result of the recent US-led nuclear superpowers’ deal with Iran. Both factors will continue to increase instability in the Middle East and potentiate global confrontation, given looming threats to flow of oil from the region.

Resolving consuming intra-Muslim conflicts and averting potential global crises stemming from them will require change in super powers’ antediluvian policies and discontinuing their support for the theocratic and autocratic Saudi and Iranian martinets

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