SHAFAQNA – If we are to believe King Salman ibn Saud, the grand Wahhabist monarch of Saudi Arabia, his kingdom has sat not only a rampart against Terror, but an instrument of salvation for not just Muslims but Islam’s very sanctity …
Speaking at a reception marking the end of the Hajj pilgrimage earlier this week, King Salman was keen to highlight his country’s role in acting such a responsible power before the ravages of radicalism. He stressed: “The arms of terrorism have sought to harm the holy sites without any consideration to their sanctities … However, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia — with Allah’s help and in cooperation with the Kingdom’s brothers and friends — have achieved great successes in eradicating terrorism and drying up its sources firmly and persistently.”
If one considers that the kingdom has made a point at brutally silencing all those who ever dared offer but a whisper of criticism against the state apparatus – whether religious, political or otherwise, one must ponder over what constitutes terror in the eyes of the House of Saud. There is a case to be made for state-run violence against pre-identified demographics … especially when those demographics happen to be those infamous ‘apostates’ Terror’s legions and ideologues would like to see disappeared from existence – namely all non-Wahhabi Muslims.
Readers will recall how in January 2016 Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, an outspoken advocate for democratic reforms and religious freedom was beheaded, then to be crucified over allegations he colluded with foreign powers – namely Saudi Arabia’s self-appointed nemesis: Iran.
On the matter Toby Craig Jones pertinently remarked for the New York Post: “Over the past decade, Saudi rulers have turned to Iran and Shiites every time they needed an easy scapegoat. Anti-Iranian and anti-Shiite sentiments have long existed among religious extremists in the kingdom, but today they are at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s national identity.”
It has become increasingly difficult to draw a distinct line in between Riyadh’s decisively aggressive stance, and actions against its detractors and those fronted by terror militants. Is a beheading less barbaric when dressed up in state legitimacy as opposed to ISIS’ unfettered taste for bloody theatrics?
How does Sheikh al Nimr’s execution fare in comparison to that of Russian colonel Petrenko in May 2017?
Beyond the veneer of legitimacy Saudi Arabia’s billions of dollars bought its leadership, how many can genuinely bite into the delusion Riyadh architected, and still argue reason? When men are flogged for thinking themselves free and communities bulldozed for their faith upset al-Saud’s religious paradigm – nevermind the systematic targeting of civilians in Yemen, I believe a rolling of the eyes or two are in order when confronted with such inept statement.
Saudi Arabia may be many things: a violent theocracy, the place where humanity came to die, a cesspit for all things violent and terrible … but a bulwark against terror not likely.
As for King Salman’s claims that his house, his monarchy, his fashion of ruling and ideology have somehow protected the sanctity of Islam’s holy sites, I must reserve a deafening chuckle of laughter … not to give into despair.
For all the centuries Islam’s holy sites have withstood none has been more unforgiving than that spent under the thumb of the House of Saud and its Wahhabist clergy.
From the grand raid of the holy city of Karbala (Iraq) at the turn of the 19th century to the destruction of the Baqee Cemetery in Medina and the hacking of Mecca’s religious cultural heritage, the Saudi monarchy has been systematic in its attack, unforgiving in its aggression, and down right colonial in its appropriation of Islam’s traditions.
Over 98% of the Kingdom’s historical and religious sites have been destroyed since 1985, the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation in London told the Times back in November 2014 … so much for protecting the sanctity of a faith one claims to not only represents but somewhat own!
Again here I must ask: how is Saudi Arabia behaving any differently from terror militants when it is advocating destruction to assert its ideology? Was it not the Taliban that relished in the disappearance of Afghanistan’s Budha? Hasn’t Saudi Arabia systematically rationalised its attack on Yemen’s civilians by arguing necessity or better yet: miscalculation?
In all cases results have been eerily similar: utter destruction.
Isn’t enacted hatred the very definition of Terror?
To the risk of angering Saudi Arabia’s establishment I will argue that far from offering any form of protection against Terror, Saudi Arabia has been Terror’s very centre of gravity – both its anchor and its energy source.
“We are determined, with God’s permission, to continue to provide the highest level of services for the two holy mosques … to ensure the safety of those who seek the sacred house of God,” King Salman said. I’m certain such words will be of grand comfort for Seyed Jawad Qazwini, who, back in 2007 was beaten to an inch of his life for standing a Shia cleric in Mecca during Hajj.
I will quote here a pertinent remark Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made to commemorate the end of the Hajj pilgrimage since it holds a mirror to the delusion Riyadh has fronted: “the world of Islam is suffering from insecurity: moral, spiritual and political.”
This insecurity if we refuse to name it still has nevertheless a clear patron, one so imbued with its own self-entitlement that it has come to claim for itself the very thing it is not. It is not so much cognitive dissonance we all suffer from but rather applied madness if we so dare consider King Salman’s statement to be true.
Saudi Arabia will never be anything else but the fountainhead of terrorism as Yousaf Butt wrote, unless its regime is reformed.
By Catherine Shakdam – Director Shafaqna Institute of Middle Eastern Studies – This article was published first on RT International