Tag Archive | "Saleh"

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Saudi Arabia’s New Role In The Emerging Middle East

Posted on 28 April 2011 by hashimilion

Saudi Arabia is once more seeking to shape events in the Arab world, encouraged by a regional upheaval that is threatening to bring down regimes in neighbouring territories and to harm national security in the process.

When King Abdullah acceded as monarch in 2005, hopes were high in the kingdom, as well as in the US administration, that the vacuum in the Arab world could be filled with a more activist Saudi leader, able to improve the regional situation to the benefit of the US-allied Arab “moderates” and to the disadvantage of Iran.

But those hopes were soon dashed.

The inadequacies of the Saudi foreign policy-making machine, a lack of Saudi political will partly due to the king’s age and inclinations, and regional and US obstruction, saw efforts to promote intra-Palestinian peace run into the sand.

Mediation on other fronts – Lebanon, Sudan and Somalia – came to naught.

Backbone of Bahrain

This year, the Saudi leadership has watched with horror as the US has in effect rerun 1979 by abandoning a strategic ally – in this case President Mubarak of Egypt instead of the Shah of Iran.

Washington even appeared to sympathise with what Riyadh considers to be Iran’s de facto allies – the Shia opposition in Bahrain.

The Saudi response to events in Bahrain – located a short drive from the Eastern Province where Saudi Shia are relatively populous – has been to stiffen the al-Khalifa regime’s backbone by once again sending its troops into the Bahraini fray. The Saudi Arabian National Guard last intervened in 1995.

Saudi Arabia has come to the aid of the Bahraini ruling family

The Saudi mission is dressed up in a flimsy flag of convenience, that of the six-country Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), whose assent has seen nominal UAE and Kuwaiti military contributions too.

However, it is Saudi troops that are underpinning al-Khalifa control in the Gulf island, just as Saudi money lubricates the al-Khalifa patronage power.

Yemen has for several years been Saudi Arabia’s pre-eminent security concern. This is due to al-Qaeda’s presence there, as well as perceived Iranian penetration and the threat of internal Yemeni secessionism.

Yemen face-off

The Saudi alliance of convenience with Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has however recently collapsed. Saudi Arabia has once again given heft to an apparent GCC initiative – a “peace plan” that requires the Yemeni leader to hand over power to his vice-president.

As both Yemeni government and opposition party representatives are expected to gather shortly in Riyadh to explore the deal, the determining issue will be whether there is a Yemeni will to agree to its terms.

Without such domestic agreement, there will be no Saudi-led breakthrough, even allowing for Riyadh’s political influence, resources and ability to talk to an array of challengers to Mr Saleh’s rule, including Islamist, tribal and secessionist elements.

Yemeni opposition leaders and the GCC have called for President Saleh to step down
Riyadh’s view of the Arab uprisings is shaped by the kingdom’s long-standing concern of maintaining stability in the face of internal and external threats.

Saudi military options have been exercised in Bahrain just as they were 18 months ago in Yemen, in facing down a Yemeni Shia group that had crossed its borders.

As Arab uprisings threaten to increase Iranian and al-Qaeda opportunities in neighbouring territories, Saudi Arabia will attempt to counter them with force, or diplomacy and largesse, as appropriate.

Syrian alternatives

Baathist Syria is not, however, a neighbouring concern. It has long been distrusted as an Iranian ally that has proven unwilling to work with perceptible “Arab” interests.

The Saudi government cannot hope to try to directly influence the regime or events on the ground. In common with the US and Israel, it is not sure that the alternative would be to its advantage, even if it disadvantaged Iran.

Saudi Arabia’s internal authority appears firm because of a mixture of patronage, security and a concern among many nationals – Sunni and Shia – that they stand to lose if the regime is directly challenged.

However the “virus” of popular demands is an uncomfortable spectacle for the al-Saud, seeing, as it does, regional events through the prism of national security and strategic competition.

Saudi Arabia shares with the US a desire to ensure that Iran is also affected by regional popular protests.

But Riyadh does not see Washington as a decisive upholder of this shared interest.

As a result, Saudi Arabia will act unilaterally where it can in order to further its interests. But it is liable to be stymied by a mixture of its own political inadequacies and the force of local events that have a life of their own.

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Two Killed as Clashes Escalate in Yemen

Posted on 18 February 2011 by hashimilion

Two antigovernment protesters in Yemen’s southern port of Aden died in fresh clashes Thursday, witnesses said, bringing the death toll in a recent spate of violent demonstrations against President Ali Abdullah Saleh to at least four.

In the capital San’a, thousands of protesters squared off with Saleh supporters in violent clashes at a main intersection Thursday morning and afternoon, according to witnesses.

The demonstrations in the capital were the latest and most raucous in a series of daily melees here, triggered by the resignation of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak. Opposition parties organized much larger, but peaceful, protests in San’a earlier in the month amid unrest elsewhere in the Arab world, following the January revolt in Tunisia. In response, Mr. Saleh has pledged economic and political reforms, including a promise not to run again in 2013.

Opposition leaders had called off more protests, but students and young activists have stepped into the void, organizing a series of smaller, impromptu demonstrations across town, which have drawn in crowds of armed government supporters.

Uniformed security forces weren’t in the vicinity during the San’a scuffles, in which protesters tore down a median barricade between the two sides and clashed with sticks, clubs, chains and makeshift weapons, like desk legs and pipes. Occasional shots rang out from guns fired into the air, but there were no reports of fatalities.

About two thousand took up positions on either side of one of the capital’s main intersections. Government supporters lobbed repeated volleys of stones, injuring dozens of protesters, many of whom retreated to a nearby hospital.

The two sides made occasional charges at each other, according to witnesses. Dumpsters and tires were set ablaze.

Pro-government demonstrators chanted “With our soul and our blood, we will sacrifice for Ali” as they clashed with opposition who shouted “The people want the regime to fall” and “After Mubarak then Ali.”

In the early afternoon, most antigovernment protesters marched out of the area toward San’a University, where about 200 gathered for another rally, according to witnesses. But about 20 minutes after they arrived, government supporters, armed with sticks, clubs and pipes, charged the group, sending the protesters fleeing for the gates of the university.

Many were caught trying to get through the narrow entrance and were beaten. Others fled into side streets.

The clashes marked the seventh consecutive day of violence in the capital. After a few hours, protesters and government supporters regrouped in front of San’a University in opposing rallies, but the atmosphere was much more festive, with both sides dancing at times. It was the first time that demonstrations in the capital extended into the night.

But in Aden, a restive town home to an active secessionist movement, protests have careened on through the evening. On Wednesday, witnesses said security forces opened fire on demonstrators in the city’s al Mansora neighborhood, killing two.

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Saudi Ideology and the Inevitability of Violence

Posted on 01 February 2011 by hashimilion

The growth of Saudi religious ideology is an indicator of instability in a country. As the religious ideology increases, armed conflict between the various segments of society becomes a big possibility.

There are two main observations concerning Saudi Wahabi religious influence:

Firstly, the presence and growth of saudi ideology will ultimately result in instability and eventually result in armed civil conflict. Yemen and Pakistan are prime examples.

This is due to the fact that Wahabism is intolerant to differing views which exist inside and out side of Islam. Everyone is considered an infidel excluding their followers.

Historically, Wahabism was used as a tool by regimes in order to intimidate and crush their opponents.

In the past Saudi Arabia was able to control and manipulate Wahabism, but a Wahabi insurgency against the Royal family from 2002-2008  clearly shows that this movement is uncontrollable.

Wahabi group activity is mostly accompanied by social disorder and violence. There are so many examples, which illustrate this point. Take Algeria in the late 1970s, which saw an insurgency that killed tens of thousands of innocent civilians. The primary cause of, which was Saudi Arabia’s investment in and propagation of Wahabism.

Morocco, a country which enjoys  a friendly relationship with the Saudi kings has also witnessed an explosion of Salafi movements and new Al Qaeda cells pop up every now and again because of Saudi money. These movements have grown out of control and regularly make violent threats to the Government in Morroco..

In short, Wahabism causes social instability and violence in the Arab and Islamic world.

A close examination of history teaches us that Saudi political influence usually leads to civil wars. Yemen, Pakistan and Iraq obvious examples.

In those countries, Saudi Wahabi ideology was exported in order to strengthen saudi influence. When Saudi Arabia’s influence declines (as is the case right now) Wahabism is used in retribution and ultimately leading to chaos and destruction. Wahabism is used as a tool  of death and not as tool for political penetration.

Wahabism was used in Iraq in order to reinforce Saudi foreign policy, whose goal was to sabotage the political process and not to build political influence. This resulted in civil war breaking out in the country, coupled with sectarian cleansing of central Iraq.

Those that use Wahabism as a tool to fight their opponents ultimately became its victims.

Wahabism was also used in Lebanon, in Nahr Al Barid against Hizbollah in order to strengthen and reaffirm Saudi influence.

It was also used in Gaza, with the financial and military backing of both Saudi Arabia and Egypt.  In the end, the Wahabis set up an Islamic State in Rafah!!! They took up arms against  Hamas and this ultimately lead to their downfall.

The Saudi Government continues to summon the Wahabis in other parts of the world, including Iran where it funds Jundullah as part of its regional conflict with Iran. Lets not forget Bandar Bin Sultan’s open threat to use Al Qaeda on Britian in February 2008, as the Guardian newspaper reported.

Secondly, many regimes are deluded into thinking that they can easily use Wahabism against their opponents. Part of Wahabism is subservient to authotarian regimes, regards them as legitimate rules and prohibits their attack, unless they openly commit kufr.

Yes, Wahabism is scary and attractive to those who have aspirations in using it, especially since its leaders can be easily deceived and manipulated into waging war, by using sectarianism to provoke the Wahabis.

Ali Abdullah Saleh frequently used this tactic. He unleashed the Wahabis and Al Qaeda on his opponents in the South and then unleashed them against his Zaidi opponents in the North. In the end Al Qaeda turned on him then it turned its attention to America. The Americans have regularly demanded that Ali Abdullah Saleh confront Al Qaeda, but this policy does not serve his interests. It also did not serve the interests of the rulers of Pakistan, when they violently confronted the extremist Wahabis in Waziristan and Swat Valley.

The same thing happened to the Sunni Arabs in Iraq, who are mostly followers of the Sunni Hanafi sect. They embraced Wahabism and Al Qaeda once they entered their country in order to strengthen their position after losing power. What happened next was a familiar story. The Wahabis waged war on everyone, the Americans, Shia, Kurds, Christians and their Sunni patrons, under the guise of the “Islamic State of Iraq”. The killing continues till this day.

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