Unlike President Obama.12:08 PM, Mar 5, 2015 • By IRFAN AL-ALAWI and STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
Following the death of Saudi King Abdullah at the end of January, and the succession of his half-brother, now King Salman, 79, many observers of the desert monarchy have speculated on its future.
Almost immediately, King Salman has commenced an effort to clear the air regarding Islamist ideology and its association with terrorism. That’s rather unlike President Obama. While he and some other Western leaders claim they are combating radical Islam, they habitually refuse to call it by its correct name. Instead, they employ euphemisms.
For example, Obama summoned a three-day conclave beginning February 18 that was titled “Countering Violent Extremism.” Such terminology suggests that the atrocities of the Islamic State or ISIS, al Qaeda, the Taliban and other South Asian jihadists, and Iranian operatives in various countries, are mere aspects of a general planetary wave of ethnic and political turmoil.
They are not. Radical Islamist terrorism reflects a feature of Islam that has erupted and then subsided repeatedly over the centuries of Muslim history. It has its own specific content and dynamics. But the merest recognition of this reality was absent from a fact sheet on the “White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism” issued by the presidential press office. In nearly 1,700 words of bureaucratic boilerplate, references to “Muslims,” “Islam,” “Wahhabism,” “Taliban,” or “Iran,” did not appear even once.
Instead, the fact sheet was replete with the suffocating esoterism of the Beltway vocabulary, referring to “drivers and indicators of radicalization,” “stakeholders and practitioners,” and “extremist messaging and narratives.” Nothing that transpired at the “summit” indicated any better reasoning in the current administration. Indeed, according to a February 13 report entitled, grotesquely, “Obama Summit Targets American Extremism,” on Voice of America News, the meeting was concentrated as much on social pathologies like urban gangs in our country as on Islamist fanaticism.
“Countering Violent Extremism” was provided with its own acronym – “CVE” – which will probably be forgotten quickly, just as the approach itself is likely to fail. Before September 11, 2001, Islamist terror was treated as a criminal problem. Now it is viewed by Western elites as a sociological conundrum, involving, as stated by Obama in his address to the United Nations in September 2014, “underlying grievances and conflicts that feed extremism.”
While obstacles to Muslim integration in some Western countries, and youthful alienation, feed radical recruitment, little progress has been made, in 13 years since 9/11, to broaden Western comprehension of the more basic role of Islamist ideology. In this context, the responsibility of Iran for encouragement of the hideous bloodbath by the Syrian regime should not be overlooked.
Saudi King Salman, by contrast, has put forward a very different attitude. In remarks to a conference of Islamic scholars in Mecca in February, under the rubric of “Islam and Counter Terrorism,” the ruler, as reported in the Jidda-based Saudi Gazette, warned that, “the entire world is threatened by ‘Islamized terrorism’ which kills, destroys and commits all kinds of vices under the name of Islam.” King Salman said, in the newspaper’s account, “the detestable crimes of terrorists were the root cause of the hostile campaigns against Islam and Muslims.” He added, “many people fear Islam and Muslims and ‘are skeptical of us and our religion.’ ”
Aside from Saudi Arabia, the Mecca conference drew participants from Lebanon, Sudan, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Senegal, India, France, Thailand, and other countries. The meeting was held by the Muslim World League (MWL), created in 1962 as a trans-national coalition of Wahhabi and other fundamentalist entities. MWL came under widespread suspicion in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. MWL currently has offices in 34 Muslim and non-Muslim lands, and operates 21 expansive mosques or “Islamic cultural centers” on six continents.
Time to counter the Saudis with a tariff? Feb 16, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 22 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
We are in a war with Saudi Arabia—and losing. The Saudis aim to regain substantial control of our oil supply by driving from the industry many of our shale-oil-producing frackers who have reduced the power conveyed to the kingdom’s rulers by the underground ocean of oil on which their palaces sit. And we seem prepared to let them do just that, by failing to do what is necessary to prevent a reversal of the major strides we have made to get out from under the boot of an avaricious oil cartel.
The politics of oil Feb 16, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 22 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
"We can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices.” As recently as two years ago, that’s what the president was saying—with his usual self-assurance—about the nation’s dependence on foreign oil and on oil in general. And he wasn’t the only one. The line was widely echoed on the political left, where the instinctive feeling is that petroleum is poison. It helped that the opposition, led by archvillainess Sarah Palin, was meanwhile chanting, “Drill, baby, drill.”
What more proof was needed?
2:22 PM, Feb 3, 2015 • By IRFAN AL-ALAWI AND STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
Following the death of King Abdullah Bin Abd Al-Aziz, at 90 or 91, on the night of January 22-23, Saudi Arabia is very likely to continue its policies of opposition to Iran and the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, and its participation in the coalition effort against the Islamic State. These alignments are not an expression of mere rivalry between Sunni Saudis and Shia Iranians, or between Saudi fundamentalists and ISIS radicals.
9:45 AM, Jan 26, 2015 • By JERYL BIER
Obama administration officials have been effusive in their praise for late Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz who died last week at the age of 90. Now comes word that chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin E.
7:49 AM, Jan 23, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
Westminster Abbey announced on Twitter that it's flying its flag at half staff after the death of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
"The Abbey flag is flying at half mast as a mark of respect following the death of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, King of Saudi Arabia," the church tweeted.
12:01 PM, Dec 17, 2014 • By ELLIOTT ABRAMS
Imagine for a moment that you are a Saudi, Emirati, Jordanian, or Israeli. Your main national security worry these days is Iran—Iran’s rise, its nuclear program, its troops fighting in Iraq and Syria, its growing influence from Yemen through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon.
12:04 PM, Nov 17, 2014 • By STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
As Saudi Arabia undergoes its slow process of change, the matter of women and motor vehicles remains crucial. On October 24, Saudi women were summoned by a social media campaign to take to the roads in cars they own, typically, but do not drive.
4:12 PM, Oct 21, 2014 • By STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
Recently, some media commentators have argued that, rather than the product of a simple confrontation between Sunni and Shia Muslims in Syria and Iraq, the rise of the so-called “Islamic State” should be perceived as an eruption into those countries of Wahhabism, the only interpretation of Islam recognized as official in Saudi Arabia.
12:00 AM, Oct 11, 2014 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
Anyone who doubts that the deployment of the technologies we have come to call fracking constitutes a revolution should consider this. U.S. oil production has soared by 70 percent in the past six years. American refineries have cut in half their imports from the OPEC cartel, setting off a scramble by those countries to find new markets.
1:04 PM, May 13, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama has been briefed on mystery virus MERS, White House spokesman Jay Carney said at today's briefing.
And in Friday’s meeting between Obama and King Abdullah, he’s poised to stand against Obama administration policy on Iran and Syria.2:38 PM, Mar 27, 2014 • By HUSSAIN ABDUL-HUSSAIN
Friday’s meeting in Riyadh between King Abdullah and President Obama is likely to be a tense one. First, there’s the fact that the Saudis and the White House differ on a host of regional issues, from Egypt and Bahrain to Syria and Iran. Moreover, there are also the secondary players likely to be in attendance, one of which from each side the other considers a nuisance. The Saudis think that newly named National Security Council staffer Robert Malley is an irritant, and the White House doesn’t like Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi intelligence chief and formerly longtime ambassador to Washington.
But interim deal with Iran puts the White House and its traditional Middle East allies in opposing camps.2:52 PM, Nov 25, 2013 • By LEE SMITH
In the wake of the interim deal that the White House signed with Iran Saturday, Secretary of State John Kerry said on the Sunday talk shows that nothing has changed, not with the American position in the Middle East, or with the U.S. alliance system in the region. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is screaming his head off, but Israel has nothing to worry about says Kerry.
Saudi Arabia would prefer not to. Nov 4, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 08 • By JOHN BOLTON
On October 17, Saudi Arabia was elected by the United Nations General Assembly to a nonpermanent seat on the Security Council.