Saudi Arabia and Jordan - With friends like these...
is to-day the place of change - of changes so great and swift that in comparison
with it our Europe is standing still. We have been much engaged
lately, making wars and peaces, looking at our own hurts, and trying to restore
the balance of the times, and so we have not always been able to spare attention
to what Asia is doing or thinking. We have
tried to deal with her on the old traditional lines, and to our dismay she has
not reacted properly. There have been outbreaks, unrest, protestations, and we,
lacking the knowledge of movements there, have missed the sequence and find
ourselves reduced to force, as our last remedy and restoration.” []
apt words spoken not by a diplomat in New York,
Paris or London, but by the legendary T.E. Lawrence
(Lawrence of Arabia) in 1920. It seems that once again the West is ignoring the
signs of change, relying on old traditional lines.
support of the US government
for the death and destruction in Lebanon does not come as a surprise.
Nor is it a surprise to see the silence of the European governments (especially
UK). What is surprising, however, is
the belief that the Arab streets still do not matter. According to US officials
“whatever the outrage on the Arab streets, Washington believes it has strong
behind-the-scenes support among key Arab leaders also nervous about the populist
militants -- with a tacit agreement that the timing is right to strike.” []
the US think the Al Qaeda fighters and
supporters come from? From the country of Al Qaeda-istan? US, after three years
of warfare and spending hundreds of billions of dollars, is still fighting those
who have come from the Arab streets. It is a very big mistake to simply dismiss
the Arab opinion. The Arab streets matter now more than ever.
Iraq and now
Lebanon are good examples of the
limits of the military power.
It is also
a folly to rely on Saudi
Arabia, Egypt and Jordan to keep
the people under control. These countries’ rulers are part of the problem rather
than the solution. In Saudi
Arabia, the House of Saud rules like an old
feudal lord. In Egypt, the President-for-Life Husni
Mubarak crushes all dissent and is planning to install his son in power. In
Jordan, King Abdollah II appoints and
dismisses prime ministers and ministers.
in these countries are fed-up with totalitarian and corrupt regimes. It is no wonder that Al Qaeda’s money,
leadership and top lieutenants come mainly from these three countries. The people, rightly or wrongly, see the
US support of these regimes as the
source of their problems and constant humiliation.
angry at the US and
Israel. But they should realise that
as long as there are horses, there will be riders. Simply put, the Arabs should
understand that although Israel and US are responsible for
some of the disasters that have befallen them; it is their leaders that are
mainly responsible for most of the humiliations that the Arabs have suffered.
One should not expect an Israeli prime minister to work for the Arab cause. His
job is to look after Israel’s interests.
Israel will try to take as much and
give as little as possible. And in time of war, they kill as many Arabs as
possible. They have shown time and again that they can act with impunity and get
away with it. Saddam Hussain gassed both Iranians and Kurds and got away with
it. It was only after he got into fight with US that people started to talk
about his atrocities. It may sound
callous, but that is how the new world order functions. Power talks and the weak
walks; preferably to somebody else’s refugee camp.
is that it is the job of Arab leaders to protect Arab interests. It is their job
to make sure that other countries do not treat Arabs as sub-humans. It is their
job to stand-up for Arab respect and dignity. Arabs have never lacked courage,
but nearly always lacked leadership; and in today’s world leadership is what
counts. But dictators seldom provide good leadership. They are always much more
concerned with their own survival than the welfare of their
example, the House of Saud, the group that rules Saudi Arabia, has harmed Arabs and Muslims much
much more than Israel or US ever has. Just look at
some of their actions in the past half a century []:
the attempted assassination of Egyptian president Gamal Abd al-Nasser
and financed Idi Amin of Uganda
the coup that overthrew the Pakistan’s democratically elected
president Zulfikar Ali Butto (1977).
despotic Siad Barre in Somalia which led to the breakdown
of the country (1980s).
support for the Christian Phalange against the pan-Arabist Mourabitoun and the
Shias of Amal and Hezbollah (1980s).
$10 million bribe to Iranian Air Force Colonel Raed Rokmi to stage a coup
and financed Saddam Hussain to invade Iran. The war resulted in 1 million
dead and hundreds of Billions of dollars in damages
the assassination attempts against Hassan Al-Turabi, Sudan’s
religious leader (1990s).
the construction and running of thousands of fundamentalist Wahabi Madrassas
(Wahabi religious schools) in Pakistan
the creation of the Taliban (1994)
participated and partly financed the invasion of Iraq by US
(Golf War I - 1991)
with intelligence in the invasion of Iraq (Gulf War II -
And a lot
more (read the “Coup attempt that started a war”). But why do Saudi rulers do such things?
It is because the House of Saud lacks legitimacy. They rely on the Wahabi
religious establishment and the army to stay in power. The king’s title is “The
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques”. Imagine that in Italy they call
the prime minister, “The Custodian of the Holy Vatican”. Sounds strange, doesn’t
it? But if you take the “Custodian” title away, you are left with the title of
the king, who incidentally can
trace the foundation of his kingdom to the British finance and military help.
religious title is his only claim to legitimacy; take that away and the House of
Saud will collapse. The Saudis know this as well, and that is why the successive
governments have tried to oppose and undermine anyone or anything that
challenges their religious credentials.
lacking courage (read the article: Saudi Arabia and Military
Expenditure); the House of Saud relies on its money to solve its problems. This
is a “rent a solution” strategy that has so far worked with devastating results
against the Muslims in the region. They pay others to fight on their behalf.
When the fighting is over, they pay someone else to confront the new challenger
and so on and so forth. This,
naturally, has made them extremely unpopular in the Muslim world. Despite the
official propaganda, the Arab streets despise the House of Saud; they are
despised even in those Muslim countries that they have invested heavily. This is
because they are shown to not only lack legitimacy, but also to be such
hypocrites. While they chop-off hands and heads in the name of Islam, the
off-springs of the “House of Saud” spend their young and not so young lives
enjoy every conceivable pleasure that the so called “infidel” West has to
of Saud’s weapon is money. The petro-dollar can buy a lot of silence. In the
Arab world nothing critical about it is allowed to be published. Even the so
called independent Arab press in Europe and US
are afraid of saying anything even remotely critical of it. If one dares to go
and publish an article critical of it, the author is automatically black-listed.
It is OK
to criticise the US,
Israel, UK, France, Iran or any other non Arab country,
as long as it is not the House of Saud or Arab regimes friendly to it. Recently
I wrote an article (“When
will the House of Saud feel safe?”) questioning the Saudi
Arabia’s huge ($268.6 billion) military
expenditure. Up to this point some well known press agencies were happy to
publish my previous articles that were critical of Israel and US.
But this time they all refused to publish the article. I subsequently was black
listed. All except one refused even to give me an answer or a reason. The only
response that I got is the following:
“First, xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx does not
publish articles calling for regime change in any Arab-Muslim country. The
horrors of the regime change in Iraq provide the explanation. We
don’t want to contribute to the neo-con permanent war
why singling out Saudi
Arabia? What about the rest of the GCC
Yemen, Jordan, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania … etc.? There’s no Arab or
Muslim state today (except Iran) that is NOT under the US hegemony.
What you said about Saudi
Arabia can be said about all of
response is from one of the most popular English Arab online news and analysis
providers. The Editor asked why I single out Saudi Arabia and
not others. It is because the Saudi Arabia’s actions and money have
caused and are causing so much suffering for the rest of the Muslim world. The
rest of the GCC countries live under the shadow of the Saudi Arabia.
The other Arab country that is as important as Saudi Arabia is Egypt. Egypt is not only the intellectual centre of
the Arab world it is its most populous.
Egypt and the
Egypt is run by President Hosni
Mubarak (born May 4, 1928), the Supreme Commander, (and at wartime) Field
Marshal of the army, Admiral of the navy, Chief Air Marshal (Colonel General) of
the Air Forces and Air Defence Forces.
a military man, through and through. He received his bachelor’s degree from
Military Academy in 1949. In 1950 he started his
studies at Air Force Academy, where he eventually obtained a bachelor’s degree
in Aviation Sciences. Later he attended pilot training in the former Soviet Union. After his training he started to rise in the
ranks from bomber pilot to base commander, and later to the position of
Commander of the Air Force and deputy minister of war (1972). Mubarak was
appointed as Vice-President in 1975.
6, 1981, a few army officers and enlisted men, shouting "Death to the Pharaoh!"
assassinated Anwar Sadat, president of Egypt since 1970. The assassins were
all members of Egyptian Islamic Jihad.
Sadat like all his predecessors was a dictator. His death was mourned
more in the West than in Egypt. He presided over a corrupt and
dictatorial regime that prior to
his assassination had arrested and
imprisoned thousand of intellectuals, Islamists, university professors,
journalists, students, and anyone else who disagreed with him.
Sadat’s assassination, Mubarak became president. Mubarak is perhaps one of the
longest serving “presidents” in the world. He has reigned for the past 25 years.
He, with the help of the military and the Egyptian secret services, has “won”
every election since 1981.
has been a good friend of the United
States and has been friendly towards Israel. In
return, Egypt has received
considerable U.S. financial and military aid. But
since the American largesse has mostly benefited the military and the ruling
elite, the ordinary Egyptians’ attitude to United States
has remained hostile.
Egyptian ideas and sentiments set the tone for the discussions in the Arab
world. The ideas such as Arab Nationalism, Muslim Brotherhood, and Arab
independence mostly originated in Egypt. Egyptians are heavily involved
in international anti-American movements. The number two of Alqaeda, Mr. Ayman
Zahahiri is an Egyptian. Prior to
joining Alqaeda, he was a member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, and later a
member of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad.
except a short period (1924-1936), have not experienced democracy. Over the
years, their demands and wishes for a representative government have been met by
brutal suppressions. The recent
riots, strikes and demonstrations are the manifestation of their continuing
desire for democracy.
year old Mr. Mubarak is now
thinking about retirement. He is preparing his 42 years old son Gamal Mubarak to
take over the presidency. The official press is trying hard to convince whoever
that is willing to listen, about how great Mubarak Junior is. The press keeps
quite about the corruption, nepotism and cronyism that have come to define the
rule of Mr. Mubarak.
people riot, journalists, Judges and opposition leaders are arrested and
tortured, the press discusses the dress of Mubarak Junior’s fiancé. The 24 year
old Ms. Khadiga el-Gammal (popularly known as Belinda) recently accompanied the 42
year old Egyptian heir apparent, Gamal Mubarak (referred to by friends as Jimmy), to the World Economic Forum on
the Middle East.
only assume that the 15 million (official)
Egyptians that live bellow the poverty line along with millions of
unemployed and under-employed citizens appreciated the contribution of “Jimmy
and Belinda” to the World Economic Forum. One can only hope that “Jimmy and
Belinda” will do something to reduce the government’s huge (9% of GDP) budget
wasn’t so tragic, it would have been extremely funny to read some of the
analysis that the US papers have been publishing about
the future President of Egypt and his fiancé. For example look at what Seattle
Times had to say about the events in Egypt.
ruling National Democratic Party has pitched Gamal Mubarak as a familiar name
and face who says all the right things about revamping his father's staid
system. He recently was named a deputy secretary general of the party, and this
month he made an unofficial visit to Washington, where he met with President Bush
and Vice President Dick Cheney.
contributes much to his chances of success, analysts say. She adds a glamorous
new face to the authoritarian regime and lends seriousness to the younger
Mubarak's reputation. Some note that she shares the name of the Prophet
Muhammad's first wife and wonder if an effort to appease Egypt's vast
Islamist movement factored into the match.” []
amazing to see that anyone would utter such nonsense let alone a major newspaper
print it. Do the analysts really believe that just because she is called
Khadiga, Islamist movements in Egypt are going to forget about the
lack of democracy, corruption, torture and so on?
“excellent” report on Egypt was provided by Houston
Chronicle on 27th of May. It had this to say:
country whose first ladies have included Cleopatra, a Hungarian countess and the
Turkish granddaughter of the last Ottoman sultan, it's only natural that
Egyptians clamoured for a glimpse of el-Gammal, the daughter of a wealthy
interest in her and the son of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is more than
gossip. Although Gamal Mubarak has denied that he'll follow his father into the
presidency, analysts say few other contenders have the political clout to mount
an effective campaign.” []
journalist forgot to mention is that before each election, most of the
contenders find themselves in prison.
Egypt, as in
Arabia, the corruption starts at the top and
trickles down to the rest of the society.
Those that resist it are harshly punished and those that accept it are
rewarded. The corruption has seeped into every part of the society, especially
the press. Egyptian press faces the same charges of corruption as the rest of
the society. Al-Amir Abaza, a journalist with both Al-Qahera and Al-Siyasi
newspapers explains the problem like this:
part of the whole process, so you can’t fix it without addressing the ills of
society,” says Ragab. “Theoretically, the media should help reform society, but
in practice it can do nothing when it is so corrupt itself, when those who run
it don’t live up to their responsibilities. We need a new generation of decent,
honest writers — writers who care. We need an earthquake to shake up the whole
opposition Kifaya and the Muslim brotherhood are trying to bring about such an
earthquake. And when that happens,
people in the West will mourn the passing of another “moderate” Arab government
in the Middle East, Wondering what
the Arab streets are simmering with anger. The rulers of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, having tacitly approved the Israeli
actions in Gaza and Lebanon are now
trying to cover their tracks by calling the whole thing a tragedy. They tried to
run with the hare and hunt with the hounds, and are now sorry.
leaders, now more than ever, are relying on the support of the
US to shore-up their shaky
governments. United States
just announced that it is going to sell another $6 billion worth of Arms to
Arabia, and extended its Religious Rights
Sanctions waiver for that country. “The waiver for Saudi Arabia is the only time
Washington has avoided punishing a blacklisted country under a 1998 law
targeting violators of religious rights” [].
No-one can find a bigger violator of the religious rights on this earth than
Arabia, and it gets the waiver. It is a joke!
should know that they can not rely on US for democratic change. The constant
talk about democracy coming out of Washington
is for US public consumption and not the
Arab people. The Arabs have to rely on themselves and not wait for external help
otherwise they will wait for another 50 years. Perhaps Arabs should listen to
what Malcolm X said in 1965:
“Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or
anything. If you're a man, you take it.”
author: Dr. Abbas
Bakhtiar lives in Norway. He is a consultant and a
contributing writer for many online journals. He's a former associate professor
of Nordland University,
Abbas Bakhtiar, all rights reserved.
 The Round Table, A quarterly review of the politics of
the British Commonwealth' ed Lionel Curtis
(London, Vol X No 40, September 1920) contains pp 756-772 'The Changing East'
[by T. E. Lawrence], OA 71-97
... Payvand News - 7/26/06 ... --