Tag Archive | "Sultan"

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Saudi King Needs To Step Up Reforms To Curb Dissent

Posted on 15 February 2011 by hashimilion

Saudi King Abdullah has enough oil money to avoid the kind of social upheaval seen among the poor in Egypt and Tunisia, but the ageing monarch must reform if he is to keep a lid on dissent, analysts and diplomats say.

Although the top oil exporter has more than $400 billion in petrodollars stashed away to address social grievances, Saudi Arabia must address issues such jobs and housing, and the desire of an internet-savvy generation to have its voices heard.

While his countrymen were glued to their television screens watching the fall of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and Tunisia’s Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, Abdullah has spent the last three months convalescing abroad, leaving reform plans stalled.

In a tightly controlled country with 19 million people and no tradition of political opposition, Saudis have slowly begun griping on Twitter about corruption. Last week Islamists launched an opposition political party, a taboo in the kingdom.

In the second-largest city Jeddah, anger built up after floods killed at least 10 people, triggering rare protests and dozens of newspaper editorials questioning why authorities were not better prepared and the state of infrastructure.

“I think people expect (the leadership) now to deal seriously with their problems,” said political analyst Khaled al-Dakhil, citing unemployment, housing, dependency on foreign labour and corruption as issues that need to be addressed.

ABSENT KING, ELECTIONS ON HOLD

Since taking power in 2005, Abdullah has done almost nothing to alter a political system of absolute monarchy, and little to change a social code that imposes some of the world’s most severe restrictions on personal behaviour.

Even narrowly-focused reforms, such as opening technical universities and launching training programmes for teachers and judges, have met with doubt from some parts of a powerful conservative clerical establishment.

The health-related absences of the king, who is around 87, and his brother and designated successor Crown Prince Sultan — out of the country for most of the past two years for unspecified treatment — have left reforms in limbo.

“Progress on policymaking of all kinds seems to be very slow at the moment,” said the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Jane Kinninmont. “In a system where decision-making is usually very top-down, the absence of these leaders really slows down policy activity.”

Saudi Arabia held municipal elections in 2005 before Abdullah took office, then seen as a step on the road to overhauling its political structure. But a fresh round of elections in which women hoped to participate was shelved in 2009 due to conservative opposition, according to diplomats.

Elections for a parliament have yet to be announced.

Riyadh has been trying to reassure allies the government is working normally while Abdullah is recuperating in Morocco after undergoing surgery over a slipped spinal disk in New York.

“Several government projects have been held up. Reforms which require the authority of the king seem to be put on hold,” said a Saudi-based analyst who declined to be named. “I think Abdullah should come back as soon as possible.”

Analysts had expected Abdullah to reshuffle his cabinet to inject fresh blood, but the cabinet’s term expired more than a week ago and no new cabinet was announced, suggesting ministers — some in office for 30 years or longer — will stay for now.

Many Saudis are waiting for King Abdullah to approve a much-delayed mortgage bill to provide affordable housing. The bill requires the king’s authority as the housing shortage touches the sensitive issue that most land is owned by royals.

“A mortgage law is one area that would give hope to one million households who need assistance to get their own homes,” said Daniel Broby, Chief Investment Officer at British fund manager Silk Invest which is invested in the Saudi bourse.

Education is one of the areas where some reform has begun, but the system still struggles to produce the scientists, engineers, economists and lawyers the country needs.

Overshadowing any long-term reform plans is the unanswered question of succession in a country that has been ruled for nearly 60 years by a single generation of kings, all sons of the founder of the state, King Abdul-Aziz.

When Abdullah went abroad, Sultan who is only slightly younger returned to run the country in his absence. If both are incapacitated, another brother, Interior Minister Prince Nayef, is expected to take the throne. Nayef is viewed as a conservative and suspicious of reforms.

Eventually the throne must pass to a younger generation. The king has set up a family council to regulate succession but has not made clear how and when it will begin work. Meanwhile, younger Saudis are growing impatient for change.

“Nobody will call for (regime) change but there will be people calling for political reforms,” said prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“People have demands, people have frustrations.”

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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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