Category Archives: Saudi Arabia

Curbing online extremism in Saudi Arabia

The number of social media users surged in Saudi Arabia in recent years, and so did the number of extremist who have resorted to social networking sites to spread their ideology.

On Twitter alone, more than 6,000 accounts tweet to Saudis in an effort to promote a militant ideology. The content is then re-tweeted by thousands of other accounts.

Moreover, the Saudi Ministry of Interior revealed on more than one occasion the existence of Twitter accounts that aim to recruit young Saudis, in addition to inciting to target Saudi cities, Al Arabiya News Channel reported.

While the Saudi government has taken a series of measures to curb extremism and cut the financing of terror groups, the spread of militant supporters remains a challenge.

“It’s more challenging than ever to track and control the flow of the terrorists’ public and private communication, but the hardship doesn’t mean it’s an impossibility,” Salman Al Ansari, an analyst based in Saudi Arabia, told Al Arabiya News.

Al Ansari referred to a report published by the Saudi embassy in Washington D.C. website which outlined the measures undertaken by the government to battle terrorism.

“The report divided combating terrorism into three parts: men, money, and mind…Men for combating the ones who are involved in direct terror related crimes. Money; for combating terrorism financing. And Mind for combating the terrorist ideology and mindset.

“When we look at cyber terrorism we can simply put it under the Mind part since most of the terrorist groups such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda work heavily on spreading their ideology and ideas through the cyber world.”

Additionally, Al Ansari said social media companies carried some responsibility in curbing content that incited violence.

“Social media platforms are companies, and any company should abide to the common global laws that forbid facilitating any communication service to terrorists.

“Saudi Arabia as any other country, requires higher urgency from all global online companies to combat cyber terrorism with promptness and efficiency,” he added.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group has been particularly active online where it recruits many of its followers both from Europe and the Middle East.

According to one Saudi official, almost 46,000 websites promote content in support of ISIS.

“Websites are good propaganda tools for Daesh [ISIS] because they are away from physical control, supervision or restrictions,” Hassan Al-Daajah, an expert in security affairs and social media issues was quoted by Al-Watan newspaper in May.

“These sites are easily accessible and they are spreading among all members of Saudi society,” he said, adding that “terrorist” organizations implement their agenda through the use of “emotional and passionate” messages.

When asked about what he would recommend as an efficient policy to counter cyber terrorism, Al Ansari said it was more of a global problem than one country’s issue.

However, an increase in investment in cyber security and raising public awareness about the “seriousness of the kingdom regarding combatting cyber terrorism” are two polices he recommended.

Additionally, he pointed to a “Strict enforcement of law upon global social media companies” and “activating the activities of the U.N. center of combating terrorism and passing the Saudi demands on cyber security as a global policy.”

How Obama Made Peace Between Israel and the Saudi Arabia

Black_&_White_Handshake_-_Still_from_the_film_Colour_Blind_(2009)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by  , a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.

In Washington D.C., the new director-general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry and a former Saudi Major General, both of whom run think tanks with close ties to their respective governments, shook hands.

It wasn’t their first time.

Obama wasn’t there when it happened, but in a way he was responsible for it.

Both men are foreign policy experts who help shape the foreign policies of their countries and had conducted five previous meetings. The topic of the meetings was Iran.

Obama wouldn’t have been pleased by their meeting or by what it represented, but he had brought them together. While Dore Gold, the Israeli, insisted that they had common ground because “We’re both allies of the United States”, it was Obama’s betrayal of both countries that had led them here.

While Obama likes to talk about making peace in the region, his only successful peace effort was this accidental byproduct of his disastrous policies. He had unintentionally managed to bring the Israelis and the Saudis together by alienating both countries with his permission slip for a nuclear Iran.

It was not a peace that he was likely to claim credit for.

Saudi Arabia was Israel’s oldest and most venomous enemy. Ibn Saud had called the Jews, “a race accursed by Allah according to his Koran, and destined to final destruction.” He had vowed to be content eating nothing but “camel’s meat” rather than give up hating the Jews.

“The word of Allah teaches us, and we implicitly believe this O Dickson, that for a Muslim to kill a Jew, or for him to be killed by a Jew ensures him an immediate entry into Paradise and into the august presence of Allah. What more then can a Muslim want in this hard world,” he had added.

And he meant it.

The origins of most of the anti-Israel activities in the Muslim world and the West can be found in Saudi Arabia. The poisoning of academia was funded by Saudi Arabia. The diplomatic and military leaders of the United States and the United Kingdom were turned against Israel by the Saudis. Anti-Israel narratives wound their way into the press and the public forums courtesy of their hired gun PR agencies.

Even BDS has its heavily disguised origins in the boycott of Israel promoted and enforced by the Saudis.

The Saudis haven’t stopped any of this. They are still waging Ibn Saud’s Koranic war against the Jews using academics, retired politicians, diplomats and generals, along with think tanks and PR agencies as their fronts, but they have found something that they hate and fear even more than the Jews.

The Sunni hatred of Shiites is nearly as old as the Islamic hatred of Jews and the Wahhabi forces of the Saudis had conducted massacres of Shiites that closely resemble ISIS actions today.

But this is more than hatred.  The Saudis are afraid.

Obama’s appeasement of Iran has already led to the fall of Yemen and Iranian naval attacks in international waters in the Persian Gulf. And everyone knows that worse is yet to come.

While the Saudis rush to frantically go nuclear before Iran does, their military, despite its billions in American equipment is unreliable. Obama has aligned with the Iran-Syria-Russia axis despite its members being even more hostile to the United States than the Saudis.

The Saudis have far more influence in Washington than the Israelis ever did, though their influence is subtle and understated, without the gaucherie of an AIPAC dinner. But Obama won’t be moved by the slow infusion of subtle narratives from think tanks, retired diplomats and assorted insiders that the Saudis have ably used to turn American politicians around on issues like the War on Terror or Israel.

Obama has decided what he wants to do and the Saudi-orchestrated drumbeat of criticism, like Netanyahu’s speeches, is an irritant that won’t change his worldview.

The Saudis have tried to play a variety of cards. They tried and failed to cut a deal with Putin. They likely played a significant role in removing Morsi from power in Egypt after his flirtation with Iran. That gave them access to a more reliable military than their own force of princes, but the best proven air force in the region still belongs to Israel.

If there is to be any non-American action against Iran’s nuclear program, it will come from Israel.

The United States has spent generations trying to push for peace between Sunni Muslim states and Israel. Perversely, Obama has come closest to achieving that peace by abandoning both sides while backing Jihadist groups and states hostile to both Israel and Sunni Muslim governments.

Obama’s backing for the Muslim Brotherhood ended up bringing Egypt and Israel closer together. Now his backing for Iran is bringing Israel and the Saudis together.

These relationships are not the final and ultimate peace solutions rhapsodized over by naïve crowds and politicians. Those will never come as long as tribalism and theocracy rule the day. They are pragmatic and temporary interactions made necessary by Obama’s transformation of American foreign policy.

The wave of instability created by Obama’s backing for Muslim Brotherhood regime change and then Iranian expansionism has made even formerly stable countries feel insecure. Israel’s best asset in this crisis is its invulnerability to the sectarian waves of Shiite and Sunni conflicts and the rising tide of the Muslim Brotherhood’s brand of political Islamism. While there are a few Muslim Brotherhood members in Israel’s Knesset under the United Arab List banner, there is no risk of them taking over the country.

Even Netanyahu’s reelection has improved Israel’s standing in the Middle East by demonstrating that it has a reliable and steady government that is publicly at odds with Barack Obama.

For the Saudis, the Israeli option is the final option. And it’s not clear that they are doing anything more than exploring it to send a very particular message to Obama and Iran. But in a region swiftly being divided between Iran and various Muslim Brotherhood splinter groups, including Al Qaeda and ISIS, the Jewish State may have become the most reliable counterweight to Iran and Obama.

The old American strategy had sought to create peace between Jew and Muslim under the security umbrella of the Pax Americana. Instead it’s the collapse of the umbrella that has come closest to bringing peace through war against common enemies. By destabilizing the Middle East and turning on the Saudis and Egyptians, Obama accidentally made Israel seem like a more credible partner.

Making the Middle East worse succeeded where trying to make it better had failed.

The post-American world that Obama has been building is a very different place. It is a world in which aggressors like Russia and China are reshaping regions to their liking through conquest and intimidation, but it is also a world in which former allies of the United States are trying to build dams against the tide.

If Hillary succeeds Obama, the resulting post-American world will be a very dangerous place, but like the countryside after the flood waters have washed much of it away, it may also be an interesting place.

Obama has destroyed the international accomplishments of Wilson, FDR, Eisenhower and Reagan while claiming to be their rightful successor. The world is returning to where it was a century ago. And on this new map of the world, an alliance between Israel and the Saudis is only one more strange new territory.

Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.

Saudi Arabia and Iran head to war

It is wrong to look at Operation Decisive Storm merely as an incidental Saudi military operation against the Houthis. This is a Saudi policy combining diplomacy and war to stop Iranian influence then push it out of Syria and Yemen.

We have heard this before, but where will this dangerous policy end and where will the line be drawn? To what extent will Iran tolerate these consecutive Saudi slaps in Syria and Yemen, and where do major powers stand on all of this?

Answering these questions will help us find an answer to whether Saudi Arabia and Iran are heading to war. Does Iranian infiltration deserve taking such risks and costing the kingdom huge amounts of money, along with the possibility of an open war with Iran?

Iran should know that Saudi Arabia will not draw back from what it started

Jamal Khashoggi

Let us lend our ears to former U.S. foreign minister, competent analyst and illustrious politician Henry Kissinger. In his book “World Order,” published last year shortly before Operation Decisive Storm, he said the conflict with Iran was existential and covered the continuity of the kingdom, the state’s legitimacy and the future of Islam.

While Riyadh is not executing an aggressive or intrusive policy toward Tehran and its strategic interests, Iranians are behaving as if Kissinger’s description applies to them too. First, the supposed friend of the kingdom, former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani – who was the godfather of the Saudi-Iranian rapprochement in the 1990s – issued statements against it last week no less harsh than any extremist from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

Iranian footholds

Then Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force and hero of Iranian forays into the Arab world, broadcast that his army and Syrian military leaders are in the midst of preparing for battle. What do they have up their sleeves? Will they execute an airdrop on the Syrian coast to protect it from the rebels’ progress, or send a large contingent from the Iranian army to protect the Alawite state that they wish to establish as a foothold in Syria?

I do not know what the Saudi military response for such a folly would be, but I am sure both the kingdom and Turkey categorically reject any direct Iranian presence or division of Syria. Thus, we might consider Soleimani’s broadcast as one of the demarcation lines that may lead to a direct Saudi-Iranian confrontation.

Also, the kingdom will not allow an Iranian foothold in Yemen. This explains the following Saudi attitude toward ongoing negotiations: The Houthis can live however they want inside their country, but they will never be considered a prevailing authority as the government is bound to be pluralist and participatory.

Saudi Arabia does not want an open confrontation with Iran, realizing the high cost of such a war. The same goes for Iran, which knows that the military budget, especially for the air force, is not in its favor. Moreover, Riyadh has alliances with a number of Arab and Islamic countries willing to defend the Land of the Two Holy Mosques. Both countries have enough arms to destroy each others’ capacities. It is a binary threat and an important deterrence.

Iran’s allies in Yemen are subjected day and night to a Saudi-led war against them until they turn to peace, and the blade is now closer to the necks of Iran’s allies in Syria and Lebanon. It is time to either give up these allies in a deal, or carry out the “surprises” Soleimani promised.

‘Fahd line’

Iran should know that Saudi Arabia will not draw back from what it started, and will continue until complete victory. Even though Riyadh is open to a diplomatic solution in Yemen, it is awaiting the outcome of the Muscat-Houthi talks under U.S. patronage. Meanwhile, it has not reduced the intensity of its military operations in Yemen, and was careful to let the Iranians know that the “Fahd line” still exists.

This is an imaginary line drawn by the late Saudi King Fahd in the middle of the Arabian Gulf during the Iran-Iraq war. Iran was informed that any of its planes crossing this line would be shot down without warning. This happened on June 5, 1984, with two Iranian F-4 planes. Saudi F-16 fighter jets shot them down in the Gulf Sea.

After that incident, Iran fully abided by the “Fahd line” until two weeks ago, when a civilian plane tried to land by force in Sanaa airport. This was followed by another entry attempt by a ship claiming to carry relief materials at Hodeidah port. Both times, Saudi fighter jets and marine vessels intercepted the intruders and made them retreat by force. Iran is now fully aware that the “Fahd line” not only stands but has extended to Yemen, and that the kingdom will not hesitate to deal with any crossing attempt.

In both cases, Iran applied its famous “Edge of the Abyss” policy, with one unintentional mistake leading to ominous consequences: had the wings of both planes slightly touched, they would have crashed, leaving a trail of victims. This would have pushed one or both governments to an irrational war. In order to prevent this, the rational one must stop the crazy one who wants to score an absurd media victory.

U.S. involvement

From afar, the international community led by the United States does not want such a nightmare to come true. Even China will agree with the West in this regard. This explains why Washington is making every effort to reach a peace agreement in Yemen, as it called for and sponsored the ongoing negotiations with the Houthis in Muscat. It has taken charge of the talks alongside Oman, while Riyadh and the Yemeni government are waiting.

U.S. involvement in the crisis is useful. Washington will get introduced the hard way to the Houthis, who learned well from the Iranians in terms of lying, procrastinating and dodging. Their true colors will then be evident to the international community, and the latter will understand the Saudi position.

If negotiations in Geneva are conducted, the Yemeni people will request that the Houthis and ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh be bound by a ceasefire, that thousands of detainees be released, and that politics in Yemen be free.

Victory to the Yemeni Popular Resistance can only be achieved by war, or the Saudi threat of a bigger war. Wars are always ugly, but a just war is necessary sometimes to achieve peace.

This article was first published in al-Hayat on June 7, 2015.

_________________

Jamal Khashoggi is a Saudi journalist, columnist, author, and general manager of the upcoming Al Arab News Channel. He previously served as a media aide to Prince Turki al Faisal while he was Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States. Khashoggi has written for various daily and weekly Arab newspapers, including Asharq al-Awsat, al-Majalla and al-Hayat, and was editor-in-chief of the Saudi-based al-Watan. He was a foreign correspondent in Afghanistan, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan, and other Middle Eastern countries. He is also a political commentator for Saudi-based and international news channels. Twitter: @JKhashoggi

Pakistan refuses to share nukes with Saudi Arabia #SoTHeySay

Washington: Pakistan ruled out sharing its nuclear weapons with Saudi Arabia, insisting Thursday that the atomic arsenal would continue serving solely for Pakistan’s national defense even as world powers and Iran near a possible nuclear agreement.

Closing a wide-ranging trip to Washington, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry angrily rejected speculation that his country could sell or transfer nuclear arms or advanced technology as “unfounded and baseless.”

Pakistan has long been among the world’s greatest proliferation threats, having shared weapons technology with Iran, Libya and North Korea. And American and other intelligence services have been taking seriously the threat of Saudi Arabia or other Arab countries potentially seeking the Muslim country’s help in matching Iran’s nuclear capabilities, even if the U.S. says there is no evidence of such action right now.

“Pakistan is not talking to Saudi Arabia on nuclear issues, period,” Chaudhry insisted. The arsenal, believed to be in excess of 100 weapons, is focused only on Pakistan’s threat perception from “the East,” Chaudhry said, a clear reference to long-standing rival and fellow nuclear power India.

Chaudhry said his country has significantly cracked down in recent years on proliferation, improving its export controls and providing U.N. nuclear monitors with all necessary information. Pakistan also won’t allow any weapons to reach terrorists, he said.

Pakistan detonated its first nuclear weapons in 1998, shortly after India did.

At the same time, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear program, A.Q. Khan, was shopping advanced technology to many of the world’s most distrusted governments. He sold centrifuges for enriching bomb-making material to the Iranians, Libyans and North Koreans, and also shared designs for fitting warheads on ballistic missiles. He was forced into retirement in 2001.

Concerns now center on how the Sunni Arab governments of the Middle East will respond if the U.S. and other governments clinch a nuclear deal with Shiite Iran by the end of the month. Such questions inevitably lead to Pakistan, the only Muslim country in the nuclear club and one with historically close ties to Saudi Arabia.

Saudi officials, for their part, have repeatedly refused to rule out any steps to protect their country, saying they will not negotiate their faith or their security.

Chaudhry was in the American capital for a U.S.-Pakistan strategic dialogue and meetings with several senior diplomatic and military officials.

The State Department said Wednesday the agenda included “international efforts to enhance nuclear security” as well as nonproliferation and export controls. It described the discussions as “productive” and said the governments would work together to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

Speaking to reporters, Chaudhry praised the progress thus far in the Iran nuclear talks. He told reporters that a diplomatic success would have significant economic benefits for Pakistan, allowing it to complete a long-sought gas pipeline project with its neighbor to the west.

Saudi Arabia shoots down Scud missile fired by Yemen rebels

CAIRO – Saudi Arabia shot down a Scud missile fired into the kingdom by Yemen’s dominant Houthi group and its army allies on Saturday, according to the Saudi state news agency, in the first use of the missile in over two months of war.

The missile was launched early Saturday morning in the direction of Khamees al-Mushait, and was intercepted by a Patriot missile, a statement by the leadership of the Saudi-led joint Arab military coalition said.

The area is home to largest air force base in southern Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, but there are no oil facilities in the area.

An alliance of Gulf Arab nations has been bombing Yemen’s dominant Houthi militia and allied army units loyal to powerful ex-President Saleh since March 26 in an attempt to restore exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to power.

The coalition has said a main goal of their war effort is to neutralize the threat that rockets in Yemen pose to Saudi Arabia and its neighbors.

Arab airstrikes have pounded arms and missile stores in the capital Sanaa and other military bases in Yemen almost every day, but the firing of the Scud – an 11-meter (35-foot) long ballistic missile with ranges of 300 km (200 miles) and more – shows the country’s supply has not yet been eliminated.

Saleh, Yemen’s autocrat president from 1978 to 2012, was forced to step down amid Arab Spring street protests but retains most the army’s loyalty and has joined forces with the Houthis in combat with Hadi’s armed backers in Yemen’s south.

Saudi-owned Arabiya described overnight ground fighting along its border as the “largest attack” yet by Houthi forces and Yemen’s republican guard, a unit close to Saleh.

“It was the first confrontation undertaken by Saleh’s (Republican) guard, and coalition planes and Saudi Apache (helicopters) undertook ground fire for 10 hours,” a military spokesman told the network.

Saudi-led forces said on Friday that four Saudi troops, including an officer, were killed after an attack was launched from the Yemeni side on border areas in Jizan and Najran.

Saudi Arabia Religious Affairs Minister: Pakistan’s Atomic Bomb Belongs To The World Of Islam

23625A snapshot of the Urdu website report

On a visit of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Minister for Religious Affairs and Dawah Abdul Aziz Al-Ammar has said that Pakistan’s nuclear bomb is not of Pakistan alone but belongs to the entire Islamic world. The Saudi minister’s statement came in the wake of a resolution adopted by the Pakistani parliament that called for a neutral Pakistani stance on the Yemen conflict.

Al-Ammar, who is visiting Pakistan to clarify the Saudi standpoint on the Yemen conflict, stated at a meeting in Karachi that “Pakistan is our friend-country. We hope that at this stage cooperation will be done with us [in Yemen]. He said that Pakistan’s atom [bomb] is not of Pakistan alone but is of the world of Islam. The entire world of Islam is proud of it…”

“We are proud of Pakistan’s atomic program,” said the Saudi minister, according to an April 17 report – titled “Pakistan’s atomic bomb belongs to the world of Islam: Saudi minister” and published by an Urdu-language website.

Speaking about the Iranian role in Yemen, Al-Ammar said: “We have verified evidence that Iran is providing all support to the [Houthi] rebels, and Iran is behind the rebellion. We will not permit anyone to interfere in the Arabian Peninsula.” He added: “We have the proof that the Houthi rebels have acted with Iranian support and Iranian weapons.”

According to the Urdu website, the Saudi minister said that “the rebels and their patrons are dreaming of occupying Haramain Sharifain [the holy cities of Mecca and Medina] following the Yemen invasion.” He added: “We have a brotherly, friendly [relationship] with Pakistan, to the point of being one heart, two souls. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are mates in every difficulty.” The Saudi minister stated: “We hope that at this difficult time, Pakistan’s people and [military] institutions will support us.”

Abdul Aziz Al-Ammar made the comments on April 16 at the residence of the Saudi Consul General in Karachi. Numerous Pakistani religious scholars and provincial ministers of Sindh of which Karachi is the capital were present on the occasion. Among those present on the occasion were: Mufti Muhammad Rafi Usmani, the Mufti-e-Azam (or Great Mufti) of Pakistan; Sahabzada Abul Khair Muhammad Zubair, leader of Jamiat Ulama-e-Pakistan (Noorani); Dr. Abdur Razzaq Sikandar, emir of Alami Majlis Tahaffuz-e-Khatm-e-Nabuwwat; Mufti Muhammad Naeem, chairman of the Tahaffuz-e-Haramain Sharifain; Sindh minister Ali Nawaz Mehr, and others.

The Supreme Council of Cyberspace

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 15,680 other followers

%d bloggers like this: