Wednesday, September 19, 2007

“U.S. Relations with Saudi Arabia: Oil, Anxiety, and Ambivalence”

from the Project on Middle East Democracy

Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) questioned if Saudi Arabia is really an ally in the War on Terror, and he credited the Bush Administration for encouraging some reforms in Saudi Arabia. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) expressed concern about the funding for terrorism and the high number of terrorists that have come out of Saudi Arabia ... In his testimony, Mr. Lee S. Wolosky (Partner, Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP) pointed out that Saudi Arabia has not made [enough] significant and necessary changes, and that Saudi Arabia continues to export Wahabism that furthers Islamic extremism. Rep. Rohrabacher argued that there needs to be significant changes in Saudi Arabia before any arms deal. He also asked if the US should take action against Saudi Arabia if we have evidence that the regime is “turning a blind eye.” on terrorist activities in the kingdom.

Cultural Relations

from the Saudi Gazette via Crossroads Arabia

Counselor Dr. Eissa Bin Abdullah Al-Eissa denied having rejected the application of a number of female students to travel with their uncles or one of their relatives. Al-Eissa said so long as the requirements have been met, any rejection by the ministry would be unwarranted. …A number of female students, however, are worried that the kinship documents requirement might prevent them from taking advantage of the scholarship opportunities. The father’s death or his inability to travel with her daughter has become a big problem, one student said. “I was denied a student visa by the US Embassy because it’s my brother who’s coming with me,” she said. “I lost the opportunity.”

Counting Jihadis

Walid Phares interviewed by Hugh Hewitt from

Hugh Hewitt: Now I’m really baiting the hook for the longer conversation after I’ve absorbed your new book, The War Of Ideas. But is it possible to turn the Salafist edge back on itself? Is it possible to win that war of ideas? Or just do we have to wait and watch it run its very destructive and horrible course?
Walid Phares: No, absolutely, we can begin the war or ideas. At this…we have not. And then we can, with time, turn the tide and win it. But we have not even began the real steps such as discussing it openly in Congress, have the right legislation for it, and have huge funding that is going in all directions, but not in the right directions, that is to fund the NGO’s, women’s movements, students movements, and all the intellectuals who in the Arab and Muslim world, including in the Diaspora, are completely anti-Salafist, pro-democracy. We have not begun to talk to them.

The Royal Treatment: Saudi Involvement in Iraq Overlooked

by Dahr Jamail from Foreign Policy In Focus

Sureya Sayadi, a 46-year-old Kurdish American woman who in California, fled Kirkuk after the 1991 war with her family. Now she works with an international NGO that assists Kurdish orphans and victims of honor killings. "Islamists, from Saudi Arabia, are offering money to young Kurds, visiting their schools, marrying Kurdish girls and taking them back to the kingdom." Sayadi tells me, "Kurds have always been quite secular, none of us practiced the hijab but now Kurdish women are being forced to do this. There is segregation of men and women. People in sheer desperation and hope for aid are turning more fundamentalist ... Kurdish girls assisted by Sayadi's NGO have revealed that Saudi Islamists are pressuring Kurdish women to adopt a fundamentalist ideology in exchange for free religious studies in Kurdish universities.

How Mecca Uprising Helped Give Birth to al Qaeda

by Yaroslav Trofimov from his new book from The Siege of Mecca

In the late 1970s, hundreds of black radicals -- including some former Black Panthers -- flocked to Saudi-funded Islamic academies in the U.S., and in the kingdom itself. A handful followed Juhayman al Uteybi into the Grand Mosque in November 1979, putting to use the skills of urban guerrilla warfare that they had learned at home ... The American Embassy became aware of such participation in the Mecca uprising by at least two African-American converts only on Dec. 8, 1979, four days after Saudi security forces finally overran the sacred compound. This embarrassing information had been kept under wraps by the American and Saudi governments alike.

Forging a Common Front Against the Totalitarian Mind: A Case Study in Religious Demonization

by Dr. Robert Dickson Crane from The American Muslim

The demonic hatred among the extremists bred inevitably by the heresy known as Wahhabism. This is officially promoted in the world’s most unjust and un-Islamic society, known as Saudi Arabia. The present Saudi leader, Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, is struggling mightily to overcome this bizarre culture in the symbolic heartland of Islam. He can succeed, however, only if he is supported by the world body of Muslims, the umma, including Muslims in America. American Muslims will be the principal victims of failure to unite in boldly and firmly exposing the heretical nature of the Wahhabi declaration of war against every human right and against even the very concept of human dignity. American Muslims must overcome their defensive stance of “Don’t blame me” and join the critics of Muslim extremism in condemning religious totalitarianism and working to root it out from mosques and Islamic schools.

Low chance of success

by Brig. Gen. Shlomo Brom (ret) from the Institute for National Security Studies, Israel

Saudi Arabia – which helped formulate the Arab peace initiative – has thus far avoided any commitment to participate in the the November meeting/conference. Saudi Arabia shuns any direct, public contact with Israel and leaves that “dirty work” to Egypt and Jordan, states that already have peace treaties with Israel, so Saudi participation in the meeting would constitute a deviation from this policy and show readiness to take a more visible role. Given the difficulties in reaching pre-meeting agreement and the problematic question of the attendees, it is not surprising that both Israel and the United States are now trying to lower expectations.