Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Our World: America's best friends

by Caroline Glick from The Jerusalem Post

Today as the US faces Russian hostility, Iranian expansionism and Saudi-financed Sunni jihadists, it remains afflicted by the Cold War dilemma of the relative importance of its alliances with Israel and Saudi Arabia. On the face of it, given that today the potential for blowback in supporting Saudi Arabia is far higher and eminently more foreseeable than it was 25 years ago, it should seem clear that in assessing its strategic assets and interests in the region, the US would place far greater weight on its alliance with Israel. Unfortunately, today the Bush administration is behaving counterintuitively. It pursues its alliance with Saudi Arabia with vigor while eschewing and downgrading its alliance with Israel. The administration's hostility toward Israel is not limited to its intention to arm the Saudis with weapons capable of destroying Israel's strategic assets in the Negev. It is also actively pressuring Israel not to defend itself against Iran and its proxies.

Hold The Carrots

from Investor's Business Daily

It's plain that sloshing around money has not bought the cooperation against terrorist elements we'd hoped for. It's time to hold these half-hearted allies accountable. Last month Congress passed a bill to block aid to Saudi Arabia unless it shows better anti-terror results. It's crafting a similar one designed to box in Pakistan. It's a good start. But the final bills should be drafted in a way that closes a legislative loophole that in the past allowed the president to waive these bans by invoking requirements of its war on terror. Unless Pakistan and Saudi Arabia can prove they're cooperating fully against terrorism, they should not be rewarded. In fact, they should be treated as terror-sponsoring states.

Saudi religious police cleared over death in custody

from AFP

The three members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice and the policeman were cleared of causing the death of Ahmad Bulawi in the north-western city of Tabuk in May, the source said. The ruling was based on medical reports, including an autopsy, and interrogation by the prosecutors. Ahmad Bulawi, 50, died while being held for questioning in one of the offices of the religious police, commonly known as Muttawa, for allegedly associating with a woman who was not a relative. ... Local media have reported growing frustration over the Muttawa's actions, with attacks on officers by members of the public on the rise. A member of the vice police has been accused of causing the death of another man in custody in Riyadh, and the Muttawa have also faced investigation in the Mecca region after an Asian woman fell to her death from the fourth floor of a building that was stormed by the police in May.

The Saudi connection and Pakistan

by Gareth Price from The Daily Star, Lebanon

But trends in Saudi Arabia are not dissimilar from those in Pakistan. In both, the state has sponsored militant groups in other countries for foreign policy purposes. But as Pakistan is now discovering, sometimes these militants return home and demand that their radical ideas be put into practice. In Pakistan, Islamic parties have never received a large share of the vote. But their access to foreign funds has made them vocal and the militant groups around them are well-armed. For now, the West appears to be overlooking this Saudi connection in conducting relations with Saudi Arabia. Whether this position is tenable in the long-term seems less certain.

Egypt arrests 'jihadi' group

from Sapa-AFP

Egypt has arrested an undisclosed number of Arab nationals belonging to an extremist Islamist group with jihadi tendencies, the interior ministry said on Monday. "A group embracing jihadi and salafi (conservative Sunni Islamic) ideas was held and it was made up of Arab nationals staying in the country illegally," the ministry statement said. It did not specify when the arrests were made or how many people had been taken into custody or if any of them were Egyptian, but all will now be sent to the high state security prosecution for questioning. Egypt's metro stations have been on heightened alert in the wake of a series of threats by Islamist groups believed to have links with Al-Qaeda.

The internet-mufti replies day and night

by Common-Man-In-Europe from Café Babel

The British site muftisays.com lies in the responsibility of members of the religious school Darul Uloom in London, which belongs to the Indian Deobandi school of thought. The Saudi-Arabian e-fatwa.org on the other hand belongs to the Wahhabi school of thought and is directed by prominent scholars of the Saudi kingdom ... most replies speak of a rigid and inflexible interpretation of the scriptures: Listening to secular music, wearing trendy clothing or consuming ‘impure’ medicine is condemned as a sin. Contact with members of the other sex or of another religion is threatened with divine punishment - all clear evidence of the reactionary spirit that dominates these sites. Yet this is hardly a surprise if one knows that the Indian Deobandi and the Saudi Wahhabi school of thought belong to the strictest interpretations of Islam.

The Moving Finger Writes: The enemy within and without

from The New Dehli Organiser

Liberal Muslims don’t have the grace to concede to Hindus what was essentially stolen property, meant to humiliate the ruled, again, mostly Hindus. When scores of living temples in Malaysia are routinely demolished , Indian newspapers decline to report the sacrilege. Our secularists don’t want to irritate Wahabi Islamists. In recent months several mosques in Pakistan have been levelled down, but to Indian secularists that is none of their business. And Indian Muslims maintain a respectful silence ... In the immediate past, the jehadis were paid and patronised by the United States, and now India is being made the victim. The US has much to answer for; so has Saudi Arabia, another of Washington’s poodles. Their support, financial, moral and material to jehadis in their self-interest has resulted in global terrorism, but, as the saying goes, as you sow, so you reap. The US is paying for its folly. So now is Britain. And very rightly, so is Pakistan as well. They had encouraged hatred and killing in the name of democracy. Now they are paying for it.

The Saudi Connection

by Stephen Schwartz from The Weekly Standard

The truth is finally seeping out elsewhere. On Friday, July 27, the Washington Post and the New York Times reported on the links between Saudi Arabia and the Wahhabi terror in Iraq, employing their usual cautious and polite language when dealing with the desert kingdom. ... Why has there been so little media interest in the role of Saudi money and influence in Iraq and elsewhere? The best explanation is media cooperation with the official U.S. preference for the "quiet, behind-the-scenes influence" that one administration after another has defaulted to in dealing with Saudi problems, and which the Saudis exploit to continue their deceptive ways ... One question remains: How many more American and Coalition soldiers, as well as innocent Iraqis, will be killed before the Saudis are compelled to end their support for terrorism in Iraq?