Practising Muslims have only five fundamental religious obligations: we must commit to monotheism, pray, give to charity, fast during the month of Ramadhan and go on pilgrimage to Mecca. I try my best to discharge these duties but will not go to Mecca. Our sacred city, unfortunately, is in Saudi Arabia, which is ruled by a base, cruel, corrupt, absolutist, tyrannical, filthy rich, destructive, ungodly clan. They have even bulldozed precious historical and religious sites. I hope God will forgive me for my small rebellion against this evil empire. Many other Muslims are similarly revolted by the Saudi regime. Yet for successive UK governments as well as our biddable royals, powerful elites in the US, France and other western states, these worst of Muslim rulers are the best of friends. The loyalist nations are complicit in abominable human rights abuses within the kingdom as well as catastrophic Saudi funded Islamofascism, wars and terrorism the world over. It can’t go on. Our citizens need to hold politicians to account for aiding and abetting these crimes against humanity and political integrity.
On Monday, Oxfam issued a stark statement about the hidden war in the Yemen where the Sunni leadership is fighting Shia rebels. We sold the arms to Saudi Arabia now being used against the Yemenis. We are violating the Arms Trade Treaty we backed and signed up to. Yes, that old, shameless British hypocrisy again. ( This trade has brought in 6 billion pounds!!!) Indiscriminate bombing has killed over 8000 people. 82% of Yemenis are now dependent on international aid. Our government remains intensely relaxed about this military adventure. The US too, has unconditionally backed the Saudi rulers. But, unlike here, influential Americans are getting uneasy, more wary and outspokenly critical of this diplomatic love-in.
Toby Jones is associate history professor at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. In February this year, he wrote a grim paper for the Hoover Institution, a conservative think tank: ‘The kingdom has become increasingly violent, beholden to dangerous pathologies and unpredictable.’ The US government knows all this. In 2009, Hillary Clinton wrote in a leaked email: ‘Saudi Arabia remains a critical support base for al-Qaeda, the Taliban and other terrorist groups’. Yes, and Isis since then. Key parts of an official report on Saudi Arabia and the 9/11 killers have been redacted. Not one of them was an Iraqi, but Americans were directed to blame Iraq. Soon after the attacks, 144 Saudis living in the USA were flown home before they could be interrogated. US activist Medea Benjamin in her new book, (Kingdom of the Unjust Behind the US-Saudi Connection) tells it how it is , how it has been for too long:’ It is not hard to connect the dots between the spread of Saudi intolerant ideology of Wahabism, the creation of Al Qaeda and Islamic State and the attacks in New York, Paris, Brussels and San Bernadino. You can also connect the dots between Saudi Arabia and the failure of some of the historic democratic uprisings associated with the Arab spring, since the Saudi monarchy did not want calls for democracy to threaten its own grip on power’. ( Did you know that Harry St John Philby, father of spy Kim Philby, was a colonial operator and Wahabi convert who helped to create Saudi Arabia? I have written about him in my book, Exotic England )
Oil and arms trade and business interests explain the tolerance of Saudi Arabia in the west. But now that Islamicists are here among us, causing mayhem, public opinion will shift, is shifting. Saudi Arabia is not only sponsoring violence in the east and south, it is fomenting extremism in Europe, the US and UK. Two British Muslim men are currently being tried for the murder of Jalal Uddin, an elderly imam in Rochdale. Allegedly, they were Isis groupies who, according to the prosecution, hated Uddin’s ‘un-Islamic’ beliefs. Clerics sponsored by Saudi Arabia tacitly back the new unholy holy war against outside and inside ‘infidels’.
Our country is full of angry young Muslim men and women. I have talked to a few reformed Jihadis and can see how intelligence, religiosity, identity clashes and duplicitous geopolitical games can lead to a nihilist mind set, set off furies. A good number turn to Wahabism because, like Bin Laden, they want the west to get out of their holy lands. But the majority cannot endure the lies, deceit and western support for dictators. Some fantasize about savage acts while others carry them out and end up in prisons. Now the government wants to separate extreme Jihadis from those who are not that hardened. Again the government prefers to act rather than think. If ministers did stop to consider the factors that produced violent Islamicists, they would have to accept that they are the bastard children of Saudi Arabia and British ‘diplomacy’. How could they bear that responsibility?
Published in the International Business Times August 2016