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GOVERNANCE IN THE MUSLIM WORLD
#92
KHASHOGGI IS JUST THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG IN THE SAUDI CRACKDOWN ON DISSENT 
https://www.trtworld.com/opinion/khashog...sent-21127

Khashoggi was not the first dissenter but he was one of the most high profile ones internationally. And while he may no longer be around, others languish in Saudi jails.More than two weeks after the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the world remains stunned by the apparently gruesome nature of his demise. But what seems to have been lost amidst all the macabre revelations is that Khashoggi is only one of many sincere advisors who has been silenced by the Saudis. Khashoggi has been painted as a moderate; a wise critic of his country whose life was put in danger simply because of his sincere desire to advise Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who was following a destructive path. His recent columns in the Washington Post and his TV appearances would seem to back this up.

In his powerful new role, MBS set about sidelining, arresting or imprisoning senior princes from other branches of the family, including Al-Faisal and Al-Waleed. Khashoggi's subsequent move to Washington was in part due to the clampdown by MBS. 


The fate of life-long dissenters 

But this is about more than Khashoggi. His disappearance has ignited interest in the plight of activists and dissidents inside Saudi Arabia. Cases that have been explained away by the Saudi government, and readily accepted by much of the world media as treason or terrorism-related, are now being exposed for what they really are. Take, for example, the case of Loujain Al Hathlool, a women's rights activist, who was arrested in May this year on charges of "attempting to destabilise the kingdom".  Her crime was to campaign for a woman's right to drive.  Al Hathlool was repeatedly jailed during her campaigning, and in a recent interview with Bloomberg, the crown prince claimed that she had been 'leaking information to other countries'.   The kind of information Al Hathlool was supposed to have leaked is unclear, but there is a widespread belief that she was only arrested because the crown prince wanted to take personal credit for allowing women to drive and to refute any notion of public pressure and activism yielding results.

Then there's Essam Al Zamil, a distinguished economist who was arrested in September 2017.  Zamil had laid out compelling research illustrating why floating Aramco, Saudi Arabia's natural petroleum and gas company, did not make business sense and was therefore doomed to fail. This was directly at odds with the crown prince's vision to sell the company off, and so Zamil found himself in jail.  In an ironic twist, the crown prince himself shelved his plan to float Aramco a year later, while Zamil awaits trial.

Also in September 2017, Salman Al Ouda a prominent and hugely popular Islamic cleric tweeted a message expressing his hope for a reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and Qatar after the former, along with Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain had blockaded the tiny Gulf state. For this, Al Ouda was arrested and placed in solitary confinement.  Last month, the public prosecutor tabled a recommendation for Al Ouda to be given the death penalty.   His son, Abdullah, who lives in exile in the US, has said that the real reason his father was arrested is because he was instructed to give religious cover for the crown prince's 'reforms' - which he refused to do.

There are countless other reformers, civil rights activists and Islamic scholars in jail in Saudi Arabia whose circumstances and fate are unknown.  A particularly compelling case is that of Dr Safar Al Hawali, an accomplished scholar, who only in his thirties, became a professor and subsequently head of the Department of Islamic Creed at Umm Al-Qura University, Makkah.   Hawali's master's thesis on secularism remains to this day probably the most comprehensive analysis of the subject from an Islamic theological perspective. The work has been widely accepted by the major Islamic scholars of this era. However, it was not for his academic prowess that Hawali gained distinction. 

From a very early age, Hawali was an outspoken advocate of Palestinian sovereignty and for the rights of Muslim minorities, such as those in Kashmir who were being persecuted. As his reputation grew, so did his backing of the major political issues affecting Muslims.  Al Hawali was a fierce critic of the Saudi government's decision in 1990 to allow troops into Saudi Arabia to remove Saddam Hussain's army from Kuwait. Drawing on works from classical Islamic scholars as well as from his own research and application (ijtihad) from the Quran and prophetic tradition, his conclusion was that allowing US troops into the holy land was impermissible from an Islamic perspective and that it would bring far greater harm than the purported benefits (pro-government scholars argued the opposite).

He also argued that the annexation of Kuwait should be reversed by a negotiated settlement or a Muslim-only force expelling Saddam Hussein's forces.  Hawali predicted that letting the US in would destabilise the region and lead to years of instability and conflict, and was part of a greater plan against the Islamic world. Jamal Khashoggi, then an up-and-coming journalist, criticised Hawali's views in the government-owned AI-Madina newspaper that he was writing for at the time.

In the years following the war and with a continuing clampdown by the government on any form of dissent, Hawali's criticism of government policy, in particular relating to Palestine, continued and in September 1994 he was arrested. He spent 5 years in prison and was released without charge in 1999.   Hawali's treatment at the hands of the Saudi authorities reveals a regime that has been intolerant of even the most moderate forms of activism for decades, and the recent actions of the crown prince are merely building on this legacy.  

But Hawaii's story doesn't end there. Following his release from prison, he was not allowed to return to his previous post at the university and so he chose to focus on research and activism.  In the wake of the September 11 attacks, although he believed that what had happened went against Islamic teachings, Hawali once again warned of the consequences of unhindered US intervention in the region. He criticised Saudi Arabia's role in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that followed the attacks, and was criticised by Khashoggi, who was then editor of the Al-Wotan newspaper that was owned by the Al-Faisal branch of the royal family.  Khashoggi argued that the US was fighting militancy and extremism and that Saudi Arabia's role was as its natural ally in this conflict. Hawali argued that such intervention would only bring about further destabilisation and militancy in the region - a reiteration of his arguments against the first Gulf war. 

After those wars, Saudi Arabia found itself under attack within its own borders from Al Qaeda - something that Hawali had predicted would happen due to the earlier internal repression and foreign policy decisions that Saudi Arabia had made. During that time, Hawali worked behind the scenes to convince young Saudis who found themselves caught up in militant groups to educate themselves in Islamic jurisprudence and reconsider their ideas.  In June 2005, Hawali suffered a massive stroke which left him unable to walk without support and severely affected speech. His intellect, however, remained firmly intact.  Over the past three years, Hawali dedicated most of his time to writing his magnum opus, Al-Muslimoon wa’l Hadharat AI-Gharbiyah or 'Muslims and Western Civilisation' - a five-volume encyclopedic work on a large variety of topics including faith, jurisprudence, politics, history and anthropology.  Critically, it contains chapters on the Saudi royal family and the clerical establishment, about whom Hawali wrote a whole host of observations and criticisms. He noted that Saudi Arabia had been built upon the sacrifice of people who gave their blood and land for a greater Islamic cause, but now the royal family was fractured and divided and in danger of disintegration.

He also warned how Saudi Arabia was shifting from being a country ruled by Islamic law to one that was fast adopting a form of oppressive secularism, where religious values would have little say in how society is governed.  He went into detail about the moral corruption of the government-funded career scholars who back the status quo with their religious edicts.  Perhaps most controversial of all is his recommendation that control of the country be gradually returned to the Quraish (the clan of the Prophet Muhammad) and that foreigners living in Saudi Arabia for a long time be given nationality.  In short, it is a detailed and radical manifesto for change at every level of society written from a personal perspective.  Hawali was writing the book secretly and was waiting for the right time to get it published.  The Saudi authorities knew of the book but were reluctant to arrest him due to his poor health.  But with the Crown Prince's continuing and widening crackdown, Hawali decided this was the best time to release the book, and so, he gave out electronic copies to various individuals.

A few days later, on the evening of July 11 2018, Hawali was arrested at his residence in Al Baha, four hours' drive south of Makkah. He has not been heard from since. His four sons were arrested in the following hours and days and have not been released. Rumours of his death in custody circulated at the end of September, possibly started by an official at whatever detention facility he was being held in.  Within days of his arrest, an edited version of Muslimoon wa’l Hadharat AI-Gharbiyah was published in 6 volumes in Istanbul.  Yasin Aktay, an advisor to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, mentioned Hawali's plight recently, saying: "Keeping respected, prominent scholars who have been struggling with illness like Salman Al-Ouda and Safar Al Hawali in prison for no reason is not Saudi Arabia's internal issue, but rather a matter for the entire Muslim world."

He is right. Just as the world demands to know the fate of Jamal Khashoggi, the family, friends and supporters of Dr Safar Al Hawali have the right to know what has happened to him. Horrific though it is, the world should not just limit its outrage to just Khashoggi. It needs to be aware of the many more cases of injustice that are taking place inside the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia is in turmoil and its people are paying the price, in particular, those who have dedicated their lives to making their country a more just place. The world outside needs to take heed, not be just for the sake of the Muslim world, but for the sake of everyone who has ever paid a heavy price for speaking out. 


*Mu'arikh is a pseudonym


SAUDI ARABIA HAS TO BE STOPPED AND THIS TIME IT MAY GET STOPPED 
ANDRE VLTCHEK 

It appears that the KSA has crossed all lines of decency, if there were ever any. In the eyes of many in the West, it crossed them not because it has been brutally killing tens of thousands of innocent people in Yemen, not even because it keeps sponsoring terrorists in Syria, (and in fact all over the world), often on behalf of the West. And not even because it is trying to turn its neighboring country, Qatar, from a peninsula into an island.

The crimes against humanity committed by Saudi Arabia are piling up, but the hermit kingdom (it is so hermit that it does not even issue tourist visas, in order to avoid scrutiny) is not facing any sanctions or embargos, with some exceptions like Germany. These are some of the most barbaric crimes committed in modern history, anywhere and by anyone. Executing and then quartering people, amputating their limbs, torturing, bombing civilians. But for years and decades, all this mattered nothing. Saudi Arabia served faithfully both big business and the political interests of the United Kingdom first, and of the West in general later. That of course includes Israel, with which the House of Saud shares almost a grotesque hatred towards Shi’a Islam.

And so, no atrocities have been publicly discussed, at least not in the Western mass media or by the European and the US governments, while weapons, worth hundreds of billions of dollars, have been arriving into the KSA, and the oil, that dark sticky curse, kept flowing out.
MORE...


Was Riyadh enjoying total impunity? Definitely!
But all this may soon stop, because of a one single man, Mr. Jamal Khashoggi or more precisely, because of his alleged tragic, terrifying death behind the walls of the Saudi Consulate in the city of Istanbul. According to the Turkish authorities, quoted by The New York Times on October 11, 2018:

“Fifteen Saudi agents arrived on two charter flights on Oct. 2, the day Mr. Khashoggi disappeared.”

Supposedly, they brutally murdered Mr. Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen, and then they used sawmills to severe his legs and arms from the body. All this, while Mr. Khashoggi’s Turkish fiancé, Hatice Cengiz, was waiting for him on a bench, in front of the consulate. He went in, in order to take care of the paperwork required to marry her. But he never came back. Now the Turkish nation is indignant. Ten years ago, even one year ago, everything would have been, most likely, hushed up. As all mass murders committed by the Saudis all over the world were always hushed up. As was hushed up the information about the Saudi royal family smuggling drugs from Lebanon, using their private jets – narcotics that are clouding senses and are therefore used in combat zones and during terrorist attacks.

But now, this is the end of 2018. And Turkey is not ready to tolerate an atrocity by an increasingly hostile country; an atrocity committed in the middle of its largest city. For quite some time, Turkey and the KSA are not chums, anymore. Turkish military forces were already deployed to Qatar several months ago, in order to face the Saudi army and to protect the small (although also not benign) Gulf State from possible attack and imminent destruction. In the meantime, Turkey is getting closer and closer to Iran, an archenemy of Saudi Arabia, Israel and US.


It has to be pointed out that, Mr. Khashoggi is not just some common Saudi citizen – he is a prominent critic of the Saudi regime, but most importantly, in the eyes of the empire, a correspondent for The Washington Post. Critic but not an ‘outsider’. And some say, he was perhaps too close to some Western intelligence agencies.
Therefore, his death, if it is, after all, death, could not be ignored, no matter how much the West would like the story to disappear from the headlines.

President Trump remained silent for some time, then he became “concerned”, and finally Washington began indicating that it could even take some actions against its second closest ally in the Middle East. The Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been ‘cultivated’ both by Washington and other Western powers, but now he may actually fall from grace. Is he going to end up as Shah Pahlavi of Iran? Not now, but soon, or at least ‘at some point’? Are the days of the House of Saud numbered? Perhaps not yet. But Washington has track record of getting rid of its ‘uncomfortable allies.

The Washington Post, in its editorial “Trump’s embrace emboldened Saudi Crown Prince’, snapped at both the ‘Saudi regime’ (finally that derogatory word, ‘regime’ has been used against the House of Saud) and the US administration:
“Two years ago it would have been inconceivable that the rulers of Saudi Arabia, a close US ally, would be suspected of abducting or killing a critic who lived in Washington and regularly wrote for the Post – or that they would dare to stage such operation in Turkey, another US ally and a NATO member. That the regime now stands accused by Turkish government sources of murdering Jamal Khashoggi, one of the foremost Saudi journalists, in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate could be attributed in part to the rise of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s 33-year-old de facto ruler, who has proved as ruthless as he is ambitious. But it also may reflect the influence President Donald Trump, who has encouraged the Crown Prince to believe – wrongly, we trust – that even his most lawless ventures will have the support of the United States.”

“Wrongly, we trust?” But Saudi Arabia and its might are almost exclusively based on its collaboration with the global Western ‘regime’ imposed on the Middle East and on the entire world, first by Europe and the UK in particular, and lately by the United States.  All terror that the KSA has been spreading all over the region, but also Central Asia, Asia Pacific, and parts of Africa, has been encouraged, sponsored or at least approved in Washington, London, even Tel Aviv.

The Saudis helped to destroy the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, and then the socialist and progressive Afghanistan itself. They fought Communism and all left-wing governments in the Muslim world, on behalf of the West. They still do. Now both the West and the KSA are inter-dependent. The Saudis are selling oil and buying weapons, signing ‘monumental’ defense contracts with the US companies, such as Lockheed Martin. They are also ‘investing’ into various political figures in Washington.

The current alleged murder of a journalist triggered an unusual wave of soul-searching in the Western media. It is half-hearted soul searching, but it is there, nevertheless. On October 2018, the Huffington Post wrote:

“By directing billions of dollars of Saudi money into the U.S. for decades, Riyadh’s ruling family has won the support of small but powerful circles of influential Americans and courted wider public acceptance through corporate ties and philanthropy. It’s been a solid investment for a regime that relies heavily on Washington for its security but can’t make the same claims to shared values or history as other American allies like Britain. For years, spending in ways beneficial to the U.S. ? both stateside and abroad, such as its funding Islamist fighters in Afghanistan to combat the Soviet Union ? has effectively been an insurance policy for Saudi Arabia.”

It means that the White House will most likely do its best not to sever relationships with Riyadh. There may be, and most likely will be, some heated exchange of words, but hardly some robust reaction, unless all this tense situation ‘provokes’ yet another ‘irrational’ move on the part of the Saudis.

The report by Huffington Post pointed out that: 

“One of the few traditions in American diplomacy that Trump has embraced wholeheartedly is describing weapons sales as jobs programs. The president has repeatedly said Khashoggi’s fate should not disturb the $110 billion package of arms that Trump says he got the Saudis to buy to support American industry. (Many of the deals were actually struck under Obama, and a large part of the total he’s describing is still in the form of vague statements of intent.)  Keen to keep things on track with the Saudis, arms producers often work in concert with Saudi Arabia’s army of Washington lobbyists, congressional sources say.”


This is where the Western reporting stops short of telling the whole truth, and from putting things into perspective. Nobody from the mainstream media shouts: ‘There is basically no independent foreign policy of Riyadh!’  Yes, oil buys weapons that are ‘giving jobs to men and women working in the US and UK factories’, and then these weapons are used to murder men, women and children in Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and elsewhere; they threaten Iran, Qatar and several other countries. Oil and Western support also help to recruit terrorists for the perpetual wars desired by the West, and they also help to build thousands of lavish mosques and to convert tens of millions of people in Southeast Asia, Africa and elsewhere to Wahhabism, which is an extreme, Saudi-UK religious dogma. (My book “Exposing Lies of the Empire”. contains important chapter on this topic - “The West Manufacturing Muslim Monsters: Who Should Be Blamed for Muslim Terrorism”). 


Despite what many in the West think, there is hardly any love for Saudi Arabia in the Middle East. The KSA is sometimes supported, out of ignorance, commercial interests, or religious zeal, by such far-away Muslim countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, but as a rule, not by those who live ‘in the region’.  Many if not most in the Arab countries have already had enough of Saudi arrogance and bullying, by such monstrous acts like the war against Yemen, or implanting/supporting terrorists in Syria, Afghanistan, Libya and elsewhere, or by recent the de facto kidnapping of the Lebanese Head of State, by moral hypocrisy and by turning holy Muslim sites into business ventures with vulgar commercialism all around them, and the clear segregation of the rich and poor.


Many Arabs hold Saudi Arabia responsible for turning an essentially socialist and egalitarian religion into what it has become now, of course with the determined support from the West, which desires to have an obedient and rituals-oriented population all over the Muslim world, in order to control it better, while plundering, without any opposition, its natural resources. Saudi Arabia is a country with some of the greatest disparities on earth: with some of the richest elites on one hand, and widespread misery all around the entire territory. It is an ‘unloved country’, but until now, it has been ‘respected’. Mainly out of fear.Now, the entire world is watching. Those who were indignant in silence are beginning to speak out.

Few days ago, an Indonesian maid was mercilessly executed in the KSA. Years ago, she killed her tormentor, her old ‘a patron’ who was attempting to rape her, on many occasions. But that was not reported on the front pages. After all, she was ‘just a maid’; a poor woman from a poor country.

All of us, writers and journalists all over the world, are hoping that Mr. Khashoggi (no matter what his track record was so far) is alive, somewhere, and that one day soon he will be freed. However, with each new day, the chances that it will happen are slimmer and slimmer. Now even Saudi officials admit that he was murdered.

If he was killed by Saudi agents, Mr. Khashoggi’s death may soon fully change both his country and the rest of the Middle East. He always hoped for at least some changes in his country. But most likely, he never imagined that he would have to pay the ultimate piece for them.This time, the Saudi rulers hoped for a breeze, which would disperse the smell of blood. They may now inherit the tempest.

 

MOHAMMED BIN SALMAN : IS A SIN CONCEALED, A SIN HALF FORGIVEN?
Palestine and Khashoggi. Both Victims?
NOVEMBER 18 ,2018
J. MICHAEL SPRINGMANN [/url] 

[url=https://ahtribune.com/world/north-africa-south-west-asia/al-saud/2632-mohammed-bin-salman.html]https://ahtribune.com/world/north-africa-south-west-asia/al-saud/2632-mohammed-bin-salman.html



According to the /Middle East Eye/ (November 13, 2018), Saudi Arabia's current Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, has been seeking to divert attention from the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. However, his efforts to do so are more than a little unorthodox. He is reputed to have asked Binyamin (Bibi) Netanyahu, Israeli prime minister, to attack the hapless people of Gaza.

And, Netanyahu apparently complied.

Building on increasingly close and not-so-secret ties with Saudi Arabia, "driven by their shared hostility to Iran", and bin Salman's statement that Israel has a right to its own land, Bibi and the Kingdom seemingly found common ground in another assault on the Bantustan of Gaza. According to the /New York Times/ of November 12, 2018,

After a botched intelligence mission by undercover commandos left seven Palestinian fighters dead, the militant group Hamas and other armed factions mounted an intense and escalating rocket and mortar barrage across much of southern Israel that continued into Tuesday morning [November 13]...

Israel hit scores of military posts and weapons caches across Gaza, and also leveled a Hamas television station, radio station and office building, and the group’s military intelligence headquarters. Another target, in a densely populated area, housed both Hamas military and intelligence forces and a kindergarten. It was the heaviest fighting between Israel and Gaza since their war in 2014...

*Here Come the Sins.*Originating out of a high level Saudi task force, a war in Gaza was one way of distracting "[U.S.] President Trump's attention and refocus Washington’s attention on the role Saudi Arabia plays in bolstering Israeli strategic interests." To be sure, an unnamed /Israeli/ analyst was quoted in the /Middle East Eye/ article as saying that if Netanyahu were really involved, he wouldn't have stopped the strikes on Gaza after 48 hours.(However, targeted by BDS, Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, Israel can only go so far before stepping over the line that might shrink American support.)

It doesn't matter who gets killed, Palestinians, Iranians, or Saudis. As this writer commented on /PressTV/ November 11, the Saudis have expanded their efforts to destabilize the region through attempted assassinations of Iranian government officials. (The /New York Times/ reported November 11, 2018 that the Saudis had considered using private companies to kill people at the time Mohammed bin Salman came to power in 2017.)Given the number of the Kingdom's princes and activists that have "disappeared", bin Salman ostensibly does not care if it's Iranians or his own dissidents that die.

Bin Salman, the real power behind the throne, is also the man responsible for the disastrous Yemeni war, the failed blockade against Qatar, and the increased Saudi hostility towards Iran. It was also bin Salman who had ordered the detention of Saad Hariri, Lebanon's prime minister for being too soft on Hezbollah, the real defender of the country. The Crown Prince is also the man behind "detaining" and shaking down more than 200 people, including princes, Saudi officials, and businessmen in a supposed effort to root out "corruption". Along the way, the Crown Prince had frozen about 1700 bank accounts. Whether Khashoggi's murder was based on the Anglo-Iranian journalist's interview of him, as the author had discussed on /PressTV, /is unknown. Saeed Kamali-Deghan, a /Guardian/ reporter, had stated that the late journalist told him of money flowing from the Saudi royal family to a London-based anti-Iran satellite channel. According to Deghan in a Tweet, he feared for his life and had gone into hiding. That and other relevant Tweets then disappeared.

Other of bin Salman's sins have been alienating Turkey and making its repressive President Erdo?an appear as the defender of Khashoggi. MBS, as he is known, has also increased Iran's power in the region. Always depicted as the Kingdom's rival, Iran, through the prince's intemperate actions, now appears as the soul of meticulous, careful behavior, an alternative to an irrational, repulsive, divine-right monarchy.

*Regime Change?**And Why?*What is clear is that Saudi Arabia may soon have a new crown prince. When this writer was assigned to the American consulate general in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, he heard a summary of the Saudi way of life: a sin concealed is a sin half-forgiven. Mohammed bin Salman's sins are not well hidden. They are right out there in the open. And, given the past, consensus-driven rule in the Kingdom, there is far too much light shining on those transgressions for any absolution to be given. Moreover, the Saudi style had always been to lead from the rear. Avoiding the limelight, shunning controversy, inducing others to take the point, the Kingdom was the epitome of scrupulousness. The standing joke among the expatriates in Jeddah was "a foreign power attacked the Kingdom; Korea got the contract to defend the country."

Removing Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman might well be an advantage for the United States. In a November 14, 2018 article, /RT/ quoted former CIA official Bob Baer on American goals there. He argued "Washington is more interested in maintaining Saudi Arabia's stability than searching for the truth..."Additionally, Baer noted "What worries the White House is that this country could pop." In this writer's view, stability does not necessarily equal MBS.

If bin Salman goes, who gets his job? The most likely prospect is Mohammed bin Nayef, former crown prince, former Interior Minister, and his cousin. Nayef also has the advantage of reportedly having good relations with the CIA, which fills many of the positions in the U.S. Mission there.






 
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GOVERNANCE IN THE MUSLIM WORLD - by moeenyaseen - 05-06-2007, 11:11 AM
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