Wednesday, 30 September 2015


How about a look at Saudi Arabia to decide if it warrants our continued support?  Does it present 2 faces:  educated politicians to the West, but anti-West teachings in its madrassas?   Over the last decade it has been the world’s 19th largest foreign-aid donor, but its wide-reaching Islamic schools are another story.
For the first time women may now vote in the December 2015 municipal elections and may even field candidates but they may not drive a car to reach the polling booths.  They may not go anywhere without a male chaperon, they must wear an abaya (long black cloak) and head scarf.  In a few areas they may now remove face coverings.  They may not use swimming pools.  The rule against them competing in sports was relaxed for the London games. Women who are raped can receive lashes for getting into the situation.  
Was it not a Saudi by the name of Osama bin Laden who went on an anti-US spree because he objected to US military and economic dominance in his country?  This led to the well organized and carried out despicable 11 September 2001 assault on the US whose strange reaction was to turn on its former staunch friend, Saddam Hussein, to whom it had offered nuclear know-how and weapons and did supply chemical weapons for its 8-year war with Iran, followed by a continuing war in Afghanistan.  I do not remember even a slap on the wrist to the Saudis.  In fact, Saudis in the US were allowed to quietly fly back home.
For 200 years Arabia has embraced and exported Wahhabism, an extreme form of Sunni Islam that teaches  that all others, including other forms of Islam, are heathen enemies barred from heaven. 
Humans are not as  difficult to herd as cats but it is helpful for those aspiring to dominance to establish schools to inculcate the youth.  Especially since 1970, the Saudis have heavily financed setting up madrassas in countries including: Afghanistan (Taliban), Northern India, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Philippines, and the Persian Gulf, a big help to IS recruiting while officially fighting IS.     Perhaps, a little history and geography: 
In 1902 Abdul Aziz bin Saud captured Riyadh, then took 30 years of warfare to unify the area as Saudi Arabia.  In 1990 it absorbed 400,000 refugees when Iraq invaded Kuwait, but none of the current wave.
Only 1.7% of the land is arable.  The climate is harsh and the economy relies on oil, natural gas, iron, gold, and copper. It has 25% of the world’s oil reserves.  The population is 17 million.
The dominance of the US in Arabia began is February 1945 when FDR met King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud  aboard USN Quincy and formed a lasting friendship.     There were mutual benefits. The Saudis needed water and improvements to their oil extraction for which the US provided the technology and the military protection. The US gained a Middle East foothold but the continued and growing US presence became annoying to some Saudis yet, as long as the oil and money kept flowing, the annoyance was controlled and muted.
      Growing world importance fueled Saudi ambitions to the point where today it is the world’s biggest importer of arms and one of the world’s top deniers of human rights.  The numerous suppliers include Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Pakistan, South Africa, Sweden (now quitting), the UK, and the US which exceeds all other countries combined.  All lack the moral fibre to avoid complicity in Saudi atrocities including a conduit to Daesh (IS).  As long as the munitions factories remain busy and the CEOs get their bonuses, who cares?  Canada has shattered its peacekeeping glories by a recent $15 billion, 14-year deal, devoid of any assurance the weapons would not be used to deny human rights.
Billions may applaud Pope Francis’ plea to erase the international arms trade, but the few who have the power to do so tell him to keep his nose out of business and to stay within the confines they allow religion.
Saudi 2015 income from pilgrims should be $18.6 billion. Saudi Arabia also hosts the Hajj, the annual Mecca pilgrimage, compulsory for all Islamic adults, physically and financially capable, to make at least once.  Preparations can be questioned. Some 160,000 tents are erected to help accommodate 2 million visitors, but, of the last 40 years, 14 have been marred with a total of over 4,500 killed and 3,100 wounded due to suffocation in stampedes, poor tunnel ventilation, collapsing buildings and cranes, gunmen, and inter Muslim friction.  About 400 Iranian Shi’a’s have died.  In 1989 sixteen gunman were hung for firing on pilgrims.
In Yemen, the Sunni Saudis lead a 9-nation air attack on the Shiite Houthi rebels (anti Al Qaida) turning the civil war into a top humanitarian crisis.  Saudi bombings have had a high civilian death rate.  Daesh is gaining influence, killing 130 in a Shiite mosque.
Enough for one brief blog?

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