By Nureddin Sabir
Editor, Redress Information & Analysis
UK Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow has put his finger on a paradox that highlights the confusion, contradictions and hypocrisy blighting the British political establishment.
Writing in his blog on 1 February, he asks an interesting question: “Is there a British military boot ‘in action’ anywhere in the world whose enemy is not backed by Saudi interests?” He notes in particular that “British military boots are somewhere ‘in action’ in Mali, Afghanistan and Pakistan” and that, in a covert or advisory capacity, “they are in and out of Somalia, Kenya, Yemen and elsewhere”.
The British are putting their soldiers in harm’s way and exposing their population to terrorist attacks fighting an enemy that is backed mainly by their – and the USA’s – key collaborator in the Arab region, Saudi Arabia.
This paradoxical relationship is so precious to the British elite that it is prepared to sanction corruption in the UK itself in order to protect the Saudi royal family from embarrassment, as was clear back in 2006 when the then British prime minister, Tony Blair, intervened to stop the Serious Fraud Office investigating allegations that BAE, Britain’s biggest arms company, had paid massive bribes to Saudi princes to win lucrative contracts.
Promoting agents of backwardness
The problem for us Arabs is that the activities of the Saudis and their Gulf allies are corroding and corrupting our societies in a manner that may take generations to eradicate.
However, what concerns us most is the role played by Saudi Arabia in spreading backwardness in the countries where there are Muslims. As Mr Snow says: “From Pakistan and Afghanistan in the east, to Syria in the Middle East, and Libya and Mali in the west, many of the jihadists, rebels, insurgents and terrorists allegedly draw financial support from either Saudi or allied Gulf money.
For many years, the Saudis were content to fund – or turn a blind eye to the funding of – these primitive Islamists, provided they poured their poison outside Saudi Arabia itself. According to Mr Snow,
Early in the growth of Al-Qaeda, and Bin Laden’s rise to influence, an informal understanding was reached that the movement would be tolerated providing it operated beyond Saudi borders. After 9/11 the levying of taxes in Saudi market places, which found their way to Al-Qaeda, was banned.
Actually, it was not so much 9/11, which was carried out mostly by Saudi nationals and caused embarrassment in the US-Saudi relationship, but when the “shit hit the fan” and bounced back on the Saudis’ own faces, in the form of Al-Qaeda operations inside Saudi Arabia itself, that prompted the House of Saud to frown upon the funding of Al-Qaeda.
But that did not stop the Saudis from sponsoring other agents of backwardness in the Arab world, notably the cult of Hassan al-Banna – also known as the Muslim Brotherhood – and the super-primitive Salafi movements in Egypt, Libya, Syria and elsewhere in the region. In fact, it is reasonable to doubt that the Saudi state, which is built on the particularly backward Wahhabi brand of Salafi Islam, is even capable of halting its destructive behaviour in countries where there are Muslims. As Mr Snow points out, the Saudi Wahhabi brand of conservative Islam ”imposes an obligation upon the faithful to propagate the faith across the world”.
Corrupting society – cancer-like
It is an “obligation” that goes beyond, and is much more sinister and cancerous than, funding Islamist cults such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Libya and Syria, and criminal Islamist gangsters such as Ansar al-Shari’ah in Libya and Al-Nusra Front in Syria. In fact, it seeks to distort and corrupt societal attitudes by implanting the alien ideology of Wahhabism at the grassroots level and thereby promote backwardness, cancer-like, throughout society. Thus,
The Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs has coordinated the multi-billion-pound spending on some 15 hundred sizeable Wahhabi-oriented mosques and madrasas [religious schools] worldwide over the past two decades.
In Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Libya, Saudi-funded mosques and madrasas are being built at a furious rate, funded by Saudi money. In Kabul, the Saudis have begun building the giant 100-million-dollar new mosque and Islamic education centre. This mirrors the vast Faisal mosque which they built in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, in 1988.
The pivotal role played by Saudi Arabia and Saudis in sustaining and promoting primitive and violent Islamism – some argue that it is not even Islam – is something Western governments are prepared to live with because the Saudis supply oil and buy lots of weapons from the West, thereby keeping the arms industry in business.
…in the latest financial year for which figures are available, it is estimated that the Saudis were the world’s seventh largest military spender. According to the Campaign Against Arms Trade, they spent some 48 billion dollars. BAe Systems is currently trying to negotiate a GBP 7-billion deal to sell Eurofighter/Typhoon jet to the Saudis.
Contracts with the Saudis secure thousands of jobs in Britain. Without the trade, unemployment in the UK would be still higher.
Time to speak out
In his blogpost, Mr Snow asks: “As Western powers grapple with the consequences of the war in Mali, and the killing of 34 Westerners in the Algerian desert at the BP complex, with what energy is the intelligence community tracking the sources of the funding to the jihadist forces involved?”
…the problem is no longer confined to the unholy alliance of Washington London and Riyadh. It is now hurting us all, from Damascus (by which we mean the Syrian revolution, not the Assad tyranny), to Cairo, Benghazi, Tripoli and Tunis.
That is a problem for Western governments and, ultimately, they will reap what they sow. The problem for us Arabs is that the activities of the Saudis and their Gulf allies are corroding and corrupting our societies in a manner that may take generations to eradicate.
This is most noticeable in the Arab Spring countries where primitive Islamists, from the cult of Hassan al-Banna to the criminal jihadists, have hijacked the people’s revolutions in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Syria and are dragging our societies back to Ottoman times.
British and US support for, and collusion with, the House of Saud have been key in helping to sustain the Wahhabi royal family and religious establishment and shield it from all sorts of social and political pressures.
But the problem is no longer confined to the unholy alliance of Washington, London and Riyadh. It is now hurting us all, from Damascus (by which we mean the Syrian revolution, not the Assad tyranny), to Cairo, Benghazi, Tripoli and Tunis.
It is time for the Arab people – Egyptians, Libyans, Tunisians, Syrians, Yemenis and Bahrainis, among others – to speak out loud and clear against the Islamists, as they did in Libya’s second city of Benghazi, when thousands thronged the streets to say no to the Saudi- and Qatari-sponsored jihadist gangsters. It is time to kick out, once and for all and through mass people’s power, the backward ideology and values of the Saudis and their Gulf allies. It is time to tell the Hassan al-Banna cultists of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Wahhabis and other Salafis to go to hell or, better still, to pack up and go and live in the Saudi desert.
In “Saudi Arabia”