West is Targeting Saudi Arabia Unfairly
By Ali Osman-Mareeg.com-Saudi Arabia in the last eighty five years have co-existed the world with peace. It is a remarkable achievement given the geographic location of the Kingdom and the volatile nature of their neighborhood.
Saudi Arabia have shown statesmanship and steady leadership in the global energy market as leading producer of oil in the world. Today, Saudi Arabia can unilaterally change the price oil but it chooses to let the market dictate even though Saudi interest is served by high oil prices.
Saudi Arabia is an exemplary in building reliable and long lasting relationships with the West. For instance, on 16 February 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud signed aboard the American warship, the cruiser USS Quincy a defense pact and jointly declared that “the defense of Saudi Arabia is vital to the defense of the United States”. This relationship continues today and is clear sign that Saudi Arabia honors relationships based on common interest, mutual respect and peace.
Saudi Arabia is among the top contributing donor nations to the World Bank . Its contribution exceeds $2.2 billion. The United Nations Counter Terrorism Center was established with $110 million from Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia contributes yearly , on average $5.7 billion in humanitarian assistance, bulk of it going to the United Nations. In 2016 Saudi Arabia contributed to the World Food Program more than $35 million dollars.
With all that long and positive peaceful history and genuine good global citizenship, Saudi Arabia is under-siege from many corners. When we scan the news headlines, it looks there is a frenzy to accuse Saudi Arabia of all the ills of the Middle East. Saudi Arabia has been accused of Wahabism and exporting extremism, and fomenting proxy war with Iran.
Is it true that Saudi Arabia is exporting extremism? Saudi Arabia and United States back in the 1980’s funded the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan to achieve common strategic goal to defeat the communist Russian and to prevent USSR in establishing foothold in South and Central Asia. United States provided Stinger missiles and the money and the Islamic world including Pakistan and Saudi Arabia provided the manpower and religious zeal. The mission was accomplished and the USSR was defeated. The United States and Saudi Arabia both left when the local became tribal and unified Afghanistan became impossible. It is understandable that the money and the Stinger that United States provided run-out but the religious zeal remained. This was a common interest and necessary defense pact between the United States and Saudi Arabia from a common enemy; communism. Can we really hold Saudi Arabia to the outcome of that mission today? Saudi Arabia and Ronald Reagan saw the danger the communist Soviet Union posed if it were to succeed in capturing Afghanistan. The religious understanding of the ISIS and Al Qaeda is very different of what exists in Saudi Arabia. In fact, these extremists made it clear their number one enemy is not United States or Israel but Saudi Arabia.
Let us also acknowledge that Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab passed away June 22, 1792. That means he is dead more than 224 years. Accusing Saudi Arabia for being religious puritanical Wahabi is tantamount to accusing United States of having relationship with Thomas Jefferson. Saudi Arabia is only eighty five years old and no one accused Saudi Arabia of being a Wahabi or puritanical until a few years ago. So, obviously if Wahabism is a problem today it would have been a problem two decades, or three decades ago but it was not. The problem is, we equate conservatism with extremism and they are totally different things. But the media would like us to believe any conservative values are extreme which is a fundamental mistake. For example, the United States GOP is a conservative party but not an extremist party. Similarly, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a conservative country but not an extremist country.
Saudi Arabia is home to Makkah and Madinah two of the holiest places in Islam. There are at least ten million Muslim pilgrims each year. These Millions of Muslims are from all walks of life with different schools of thought such as Sunni and Shia. They have varying cultures, dress codes, norms and ways of performing their prayers. These millions of pilgrims must find a common ground of worship as all the rituals are done at the same time per Islamic dictates when they are in Makkah and Madinah. Therefore, the only common ground is to keep the religious practices at their fundamental level. You simply cannot allow the ways of Shia Iran with the ways of Sunni Malaysia at the same mosque. There will be traffic chaos and in fact people will die if that were to be allowed. Therefore, the puritanical ways of Saudi Arabia serves a practical purpose and keeps millions of Muslims who visit the holy places each year in harmony. It is not puritanical Islam or Wahabism that is the problem; it is our sensationalist media not willing to deeply examine why things are the way they are in Saudi Arabia.
Another accusation labeled against Saudi Arabia is that Saudi Arabia is playing proxy war with Iran and Shia Islam. Let us look the facts on the ground. Saudi Arabia supported the war against Saddam Hussein. Saddam was a Sunni Arab presiding over majority Shia Arabs. Saudi Arabia was well aware that the replacement would not be a Sunni but nonetheless supported the war.
Saudi Arabia did not interfere the Iraqi internal struggles even though Iranian Revolutionary Guards were operating on the ground and advising Iraqi Shia militias. Nouri al-Maliki the Iraqi president at the time was engaged in Ethnic Sunni cleansing and was in bed with the Iranians but Saudis never interfered with the Iraqi internal affairs.
Saudi Arabia only acted, when Iran emboldened by their Iraqi success tried to create similar chaos in Bahrain and Yemen. Can you imagine Baltimore USA being an independent country and North Korea placing ballistic missiles in Baltimore reachable Washington, DC! What would be the United States response in such a situation? And that is what exactly happened in Yemen. The Yemeni Houthis are two hundred fifty thousand in number by a country of 24 million Sunnis. Iran attempted to arm and give Houthis the rein of Yemen in order to terrorize and hold hostage Saudi oil shipments to the world in Bab-el-Mandeb. Iran attempted to hijack a majority Sunni country that shares long border and common history with Saudi Arabia. When we equate Saudi self-defense by the aggression of a terrorist state like Iran, we do ourselves a great disservice.
With this clear provocation from Iran and the minority rebel Houthis, Saudi Arabia did not unilaterally declare war, but rather sought a peaceful means to resolve the conflict. The Houthis were invited and joined National Dialogue Conference in Yemen which was the Gulf Cooperation Council Initiative. The Houthis seized power and rejected the provisions of the Gulf Cooperation Council agreements in November 2011.
Saudi Arabia was left with no other alternative but to act militarily. If Saudis did not act, they would have been overwhelmed by Sunni refugees pouring from the long Yemeni border to their country. The world energy supply would have been severely disrupted by Iranian interference. Iran would have threatened the holy sites Makkah and Madinah by forcing the weak Houthis to let them build military bases in the Saudi Yemeni border. Yemen would have been engulfed by ethnic cleansing as the larger Sunni tribes try to rest power from the minority Zaydi Houthis.
Saudi Arabia faced clear and strategic danger and to not have acted militarily when peace failed would have been a strategic and catastrophic mistake.
Wrongfully accusing peace loving Saudi Arabia and our long-term ally and partner in the Middle East is a strategic mistake. We in the media should take the time to examine the complex issues in the Middle East from historic as well as current perspectives. Saudi Arabia is not Iran. Iran is a country labeled by all international institutions and government bodies as a terrorist state and it is seeking nuclear weapons to terrorize the world. Saudi Arabia is a country having eighty five years of peaceful co-existence and responsible history with the world community. Saudi Arabia shows no ambitions to acquire weapons of mass destruction and contributes to the global good. You can contact the Author firstname.lastname@example.org