Counter-Terrorism: The Saudis Strike Back At Everyone

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December 30, 2015: On December 15 th Saudi Arabia announced the formation of an anti-terrorist organization (the Islamic Military Alliance or IMA) composed of 34 (so far) Moslem nations. This includes Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Chad, Comoros, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Guinea, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Maldives, Mali, Malaysia, Morocco, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Qatar, the Palestinians, Pakistan, Senegal, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, the UAE (United Arab Emirates), and Yemen. Indonesia, largest Moslem nation on the planet, is considering. The nation with the largest number of Moslems, India, was apparently not invited to join. All the current members are largely Sunni. Many people in Pakistan, Afghanistan Lebanon and Malaysia objected to their nation joining the IMA. Three of these nations have large Shia minorities while Malaysia has many non-Moslems, including Hindus. Some nations are not welcome, like Iran, Syria and Iraq. This is because the Sunni Gulf States (led by Saudi Arabia) are at war with Iran, which considers Syria and Iraq allies. A growing number of Moslem nations are openly complaining that Saudi Arabia is the source of most of the Islamic conservatism that propelled al Qaeda and ISIL, the Taliban, Boko Haram and many other Islamic terrorist groups into existence. Many IMA members are the recipients of Saudi financial assistance, so refusing to join the IMA was not considered fiscally prudent.

The only specific terrorist organization IMA is at war with is ISIL (al Qaeda in Iraq and the Levant). Saudi Arabia also considers Iran a terrorist organization, especially when Sunni nations are concerned. To many Saudi the Western nations are terrorists and many Arabs believe (and say so) that ISIL and al Qaeda were created by the United States and Israel.

Saudi Arabia formed IMA to deal with a plague of Islamic terrorism that it played a major role in creating. While the Saudis never officially supported Islamic terrorism they were, at the same time, very much responsible for the increase in Islamic terrorist activity since the 1970s. That’s because in Arabia (where Islam first appeared in the 7th century) the locals believe they are more Islamic than other Moslems. After all, the Koran was written in Arabic and all the founders of Islam were Arabs. Yet for over a thousand years there has been a tradition of different factions in Arabia trying outdo each other to prove who is “more Islamic” than the other. This led to constant fighting and suppression of new ideas. One of those fanatic factions is the Wahhabi form of Sunni Islam in what is now Saudi Arabia. Wahhabis, who first appeared in the 18th century, are very conservative and very hostile to non-Moslems and Moslems who are not Sunni. This meant little to the non-Moslem world until lots of oil wealth appeared in Arabia after World War II. Suddenly it became possible for Saudis to show how pious they were by funding Wahhabi missionaries who went to other Moslem (and many non-Moslem) nations to preach, establish Wahhabi religious schools and mosques and create the current Islamic terrorism problem. Billions were (and still are) spent on this and the policy of getting the young boys into these free religious schools and turning many of them into hateful (towards anyone not like them) Islamic religious fanatics led to a major outbreak of Islamic terrorism in the late 20th century. Yet many Moslem nations resisted this as did many Moslem nations (like Iraq, Libya and Syria) resisted the Wahhabi missionaries and money.

The Wahhabi problem is most obvious in Saudi Arabia, which practiced what it preached. Saudis comprise the largest faction of ISIL and al Qaeda recruits because so many Saudis have been educated in Wahhabi run schools. The Saudi rulers control the clergy, to a point, and do not allow public expressions of anti-Saudi Islamic radical ideas. But many Saudis back ISIL goals (which include replacing the Saudi monarchy), even is many of them do not wish to live under ISIL rule. This ideological mess is something Arab rulers, particularly in Saudi Arabia, have been dealing with since Saudi Arabia was formed in the 1920s. Change comes slowly in religious matters but meanwhile religious zealots that Arab oil wealth paid to create threaten us all. After September 11, 2001 the Saudis reluctantly began cracking down on the Islamic terrorist monster they had created. This was difficult to do but the Saudis were largely persuaded by the growing number of Islamic terrorist groups that wanted to kill the Saudi royals and run all of Arabia as a religious dictatorship. Messing with religion is one thing but if you really want to get someone’s attention threaten to take away their wealth and power.

 


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