Tags: saud | saudi arabia | 911 | islam

Saudi Arabia Has Ties to Terror

By    |   Monday, 16 Mar 2015 09:03 AM

For 70 years, a bedrock of U.S. policy in the Middle East has been unwavering support for the House of Saud. However, this support has come under fire after a decade book-ended by 9/11 terrorist attacks perpetrated by Saudi men and a would-be caliphate punctuated by ISIS crucifixions, beheadings, and a burning of a caged human being.

Both find their roots in the intolerance that underwrites Wahhabism, the form of Islam that is officially sanctioned — and exported — by Saudi Arabia.

The Wahhabi Salalfist version of Islam repudiates all other sects of the faith and modernity itself. Images from ISIS propaganda videos and literature make it clear that their text books are from Saudi Arabia.

The teachings of Saudi sponsored Wahhabism in thousands of mosques and schools throughout the Muslim world is nothing short of naked hate. Freedom House, a respected U.S.-based NGO, published a report about curriculum taught in Saudi schools, which concluded that it "continues to propagate an ideology of hate toward the 'unbeliever,' which include Christians, Jews, Shiites, Sufis, Sunni Muslims who do not follow Wahhabi doctrine."

How can U.S. policymakers credibly call Saudi Arabia a partner in the war on ISIS when there is such direct link between the dogma that ISIS subscribes to and the official state religion of the Kingdom?

The Saudis, in an effort to confront pan-Arabism and later revolutionary Iran, have been using their petrodollars to transport their vision of Islam to the rest of the world (i.e., Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Somalia, and Sudan) since the 1970s.

Important to note that all of these countries have been battling with Salafist-Wahhabi extremism for two decades now. Some estimates conclude that over a $100 billion dollars have been spent by Riyadh to export Wahhabism.

Saudi Arabia is now reaping what it has sowed, with ISIS drawing thousands of fighters from the Kingdom whose puritanical vision of Islam resonates with them. The government in Riyadh now must come to grips with fundamentalist teachings that have spawn terror globally only because it is threatening its leadership at home.

This bloodlust-fueled caliphate, along with a growing energy independence in the United States, provides the West with a greater amount of leverage to compel a change in Saudi support of this extremist ideology.

The Obama administration can take three steps to effect change. First, declassify the 28 pages of the 9/11 report that victims family have demanded be released and as candidate Obama promised he would back in 2007.

Second, tell the Saudis and other Gulf countries (Kuwait and Qatar in particular) that security commitments are contingent on them enacting tighter anti-terrorism financing laws and greater monitoring of the curriculum being exported by their charities and foundations.

Third, should they fail to do so, the U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Asset Control (architects of the robust sanctions regime against Iran) should begin to sanction and shame financial institutions, members of the royal family, government officials, and charities that continue to provide funding for the spread of Wahhabism.

Without these steps, the flow of funding to extremists will surely continue.

How can Congress and the administration continue to act as a shield for countries whose values are antithetical to those that young American service men and women vow to protect? How can the United States claim to be serious about combating ISIS if it continues to do business as usual with countries that have played a crucial role in seed-funding this extremist ideology?

The Saudi-U.S. relationship has always been one of shared interest rather than shared values, but those interests seem increasingly at odds. While the House of Saud represents the best chance of nudging the country toward reform, its pace is slow and its leadership beholden to the Wahhabi religious establishment that gives it legitimacy.

King Salman, as custodian of the holiest sites in Islam, carries special weight in the Muslim world. He could represent the last best chance the United States has to turn the tide against ISIS. Now is the time for the United States to make it clear to the new King that his country can no longer have it both ways.

Amir Handjani is a Middle East expert and managing director of PT Capital, an Arctic Resource Asset manager.


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MiddleEast
The Saudi-U.S. relationship has always been one of shared interest rather than shared values, but those interests seem increasingly at odds.
saud, saudi arabia, 911, islam
704
2015-03-16
Monday, 16 Mar 2015 09:03 AM
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