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Saudi Arabia on Track to Break its Own Beheading Record



While other countries excel in science and the arts, the heartland of Islam knows what it’s good at and sticks to it.

Ever since Mohammed’s day, they have had one thing that they are really good at. Chopping people’s heads off. And this year, the Saudis are on track to break their own beheading record.

The latest beheading brings to 74 the number of executions carried out in Saudi Arabia this year, according to an AFP count. In 2012, the country carried out 76 executions, according to a tally based on official figures.

The question now is can the Saudis beat their 2012 beheading record before the year ends?

In 2013, the Saudis have been beheading people at a rate of two a week. But they don’t have much time left and they’ve been held back by swordsmen problems.

An official in the ultra-conservative kingdom said that sword-bearing executioners “are not readily available everywhere and on some occasions, executions were marred by confusion as the executioner was late in showing up at the designated public place”.

The unnamed bureaucrat told the daily Al Youm that in the age of easy digital communication, executioners’ lateness was “causing confusion and sparking speculation and rumours through modern technology”

It’s just a shame when your barbaric method of execution clashes with all the Japanese and American hardware you’ve imported. If only they had Egypt’s executioner who really loves his job.

In all honesty, I love my work. I just love it! I never say “no” when they need me at work. This is my work and my livelihood.

Strangulation was my hobby. When I applied for the job and did well on the tests – proving that I could take the psychological pressure and so on – they said: “Congratulations. Now, grow a moustache.

Islamic law. How did they ever live without it? Oh right, they “lived” without it.

Israel and Saudi Arabia: Unlikely Allies


saMedia outlets have been speculating about the emerging alliance between Israel and Saudi Arabia. The International Business Times (December 2, 2013), quoted London’s Sunday Times as saying that “Israel and Saudi Arabia were working together to bring down Iran’s nuclear activities.” Clearly, having a mutual interest in stopping the threat of a hegemonic and nuclear Iran has made the two unlikely allies.

Saudi and Israeli interests have converged more than once before. First, during the Yemen War, Egypt’s dictator Gamal Abdul Nasser sought to sustain the revolutionary republican Yemeni officers who brought down the Hamiduddin dynasty. In the mountains of north and east Yemen, Imam Mohammad al Badr and his royalist insurgent army fought back. In the five-year war (1962-1967) in which the Egyptians committed 70,000 troops (it became Nasser’s Vietnam), the Saudi’s and Israelis, fearful of Nasser’s hegemonic ambitions, helped the royalist forces.

Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institute wrote: “To get more arms to the royalists, the Saudis and their mercenaries turned to another enemy of the Egyptian dictator, Israel. In early 1964, the Israeli intelligence service, the Mossad, made arrangements for the Israeli air force to begin flying clandestine supply missions down the Red Sea from Israel to parachute weapons to the royalists. The mission was approved by the senior leadership in Israel, and the flights were code-named Operation Leopard.” In the years 1964 through 1966, the Israelis flew more than a dozen resupply flights to aid the royalists.

In 1991, during the First Gulf War, Saddam Hussein launched Scud missiles at both Israel and Saudi Arabia, and the two countries found themselves again on the same side. In the 1990’s, Saudi Arabia accepted the permanence of Israel’s position in the Middle East by agreeing to support the Madrid and Oslo peace processes. Now, in the wake of the recent P5+1 Geneva interim agreement with Iran over Tehran’s nuclear program, Saudi Arabian and Israeli interests have found common ground once more. Both nations are critical of the Obama administration’s handling of Iran.

Israel and Saudi Arabia are threatened by the prospect of a nuclear Iran imposing its hegemonic ambitions on the entire region. Israel is facing the missile arsenals of Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, both supplied by Iran. The Saudis face similar threats emanating from Iran. Saudi Arabia feels encircled by the Iranian supported Houthi rebellion in Yemen, a Shiite insurrection in Bahrain, the Shiite-led Iraqi regime of Nouri al-Maliki, and in Syria, by the direct intervention of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah.  In Lebanon, a proxy conflict is taking place between the Iran supported Shiite Hezbollah and the Sunni-Lebanese supported by the Saudis. Riyadh is particularly disturbed by Iran’s incitement of the Shiite minority in Saudi Arabia.

Shared interests notwithstanding, the points of conflict between the Saudis and Israel have been long and deep, albeit, indirect. The Saudis launched the Arab oil embargo against the US and the West during the Yom Kippur War of 1973, ostensibly to punish the US and its allies for supporting Israel. During the Second Intifada (2000-2003), the Saudis provided a major portion of Hamas’ budget, and sent payments to the families of suicide bombers. Much earlier, in February, 1945, King Ibn Saud expressed his hatred of Jews and to the idea of a Jewish State in a meeting with US President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR). He cautioned FDR against supporting a Jewish state in Palestine, and warned that creation of such a Jewish State would lead to continuous war and undermine US-Saudi relations.

Saudi Arabia is considered the leading Sunni-Muslim state. The Saudi royal family serves as the guardian of Islam’s holiest sites – the cities of Mecca and Medina. Along with being the “guardians,” the Saudi royal family has supported Sunni Muslim mosques and imams worldwide, and funds the spread of Islam in Europe and the US. The Saud family, which created the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has tied its fortunes with Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703-1792), and Wahhabism.

Wahhabi Islam is a term commonly given to a strict Sunni sect of Islam. Followers of Wahhabi Islam do not refer to their religion as “Wahhabi.” Many merely call themselves “Muslim,” for according to their beliefs, they are the only true Muslims. Some Wahhabists refer to themselves and their religion as “al-Muwahhidun,” or “Salafi Da’wa,” or “Ahlul Sunna wal Jama’a.” Wahhabi Islam is a fundamentalist and strict revivalist vision, and beliefs that were preached by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab in the late 1700’s sought to imitate the original ways of the Prophet Mohammad and his four immediate successors.

One reason to be skeptical about a Riyadh-Jerusalem long-term partnership is Saudi concern with the legitimacy of their rule. Since Israel is considered by many as the “enemy” of Islam, and Riyadh the “defender” of Islam, it is far-fetched to talk about an enduring alliance. The Saudi royal family has to balance legitimacy within the Muslim world and personal security, or simply put, the preservation of the royal family. In the long term, the historical animosity between Persians and Arabs, and even with Sunni Muslim negative disposition towards Shiite Islam notwithstanding, we are more likely to see an Iranian-Saudi rapprochement than a Saudi alliance with the Jewish state.

Riyadh has been a vocal advocate of the Weapons of Mass Destruction (nuclear) free zone in the Middle East. With Syria disposing of its chemical weapons, the Saudis hope that Iran will be pressured to abandon its nuclear project in the permanent agreement between P5+1 and Iran. This would leave Israel as the primary target of a Saudi led campaign in the UN, to compel Israel to dispose of its alleged nuclear weapons.

For now, Iran, not Israel, constitutes a real threat to the royal family’s security, and to their kingdom. According to the Beirut based Al-Akhbar, (November 12, 2013) “The Saudi royal family and the Wahhabi clerics never saw a contradiction between their anti-Semitism and their coordination with the Israeli state, especially when the coordination bolstered the Saudi place in US foreign policy plan.” In fact, Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Baz, disagreed with the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, on whether there can be a truce with the Jews. Bin Baz argued that a truce (hudna) with Israel is allowed and even an exchange of ambassadors is permitted, if it serves Islam’s interests. In a fatwa he issued, Bin Baz endorsed the Middle East peace process.

Al-Akhbar added that the “Saudi and Israeli foreign policies have mirrored one another on Egypt and Iran. The two may not have seen eye-to-eye on Syria, but they seem to have put their trust in the Free Syrian Army.” It is true that both the Saudis and Israelis opposed the Muslim Brotherhood, resented the removal of President Mubarak, and supported the Egyptian military coup, which the Obama administration seemed to oppose.

Whatever the ideological differences between the Saudis and Israel may be (and indeed they exist), self-interest in fending off the immediate Iranian threat, for now, trumps ideological considerations. This may not be an alliance, but the two states, as much as they are “unlikely allies,” have good reasons to be in it. It has never been truer in the Middle East that, ones’ enemies’ enemy could be one’s friend.

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Saudi Arabia: #KSA, Hooked on Twitter

Kingdom ranks seventh in the world and first among Arab states for volume of tweets
File photo of the Twitter logo at their headquarters in  San Francisco, California. (AFP Photo/Kimihiro HOSHINO/FILES)

File photo of the Twitter logo at their headquarters in San Francisco, California. (AFP Photo/Kimihiro HOSHINO/FILES)

London, Asharq Al-Awsat—A recent study has revealed that 53 percent of Twitter users in Saudi Arabia are “addicted” to tweeting. The study, conducted by a researcher at King Saud University, Al-Bandari Al-Sahli, also found that an almost-equal 47 percent believed they could quit the social networking website.

Based on the answers of 1,190 male and female respondents aged between 16 and 35, the findings indicate that 29 percent of Saudi Twitter users go on the site mainly as an outlet to express their opinions. Others use it to communicate with friends and interact with people around the world.

Moreover, 20 percent of participants said they used the site to follow religious and creative celebrities. Those who used it for professional purposes—such as promoting a business or searching for a job—are comparatively small in number, around 1 or 2 percent of all users in the Kingdom.

When asked about the amount of time spent on Twitter each day, the study suggested that 45 percent of participants spent approximately one to three hours per day on the site, while 25 percent used it for less than one hour, and 18 percent for four to six hours. Only 2 to 4 percent of the Twitter users participating in the survey confessed to spending 7 to 12 hours a day tweeting and re-tweeting.

The study revealed that 24 percent of tweets from Saudi Arabia tackled general topics and issues of daily life.

Tweets about social issues ranked second with 20 percent, to be followed by religious issues with 14 percent, while humor and education accounted for 10 percent each. Politics accrued around 8 percent of Saudi tweets, while sports and business made up 5 and 3 percent, respectively.

The Saudi study is particularly timely, given that 41 percent of Saudi Internet users were identified as regular Twitter users in a study by Business Insider (BI) Intelligence completed in November 2013.

Speaking to Arab News in November, Ammar Mardawi, the executive director of Kindi Co and an information security expert, attributed the growth of Twitter in Saudi Arabia to three main factors: the wide distribution of smartphones, the appeal of e-networking in a country with a hot climate, and its widespread use by professionals and celebrities.

“These factors and others have contributed to the creation of more than a million new accounts on Twitter during the past year alone. Perhaps we will witness a similar increase next year, which would keep Saudi Arabia among the top countries in terms of Internet penetration,” said Mardawi.

Saudi Arabia ranks seventh in the world—and first among Arab states—in terms of total number of tweets per month. Around 4.1 percent of total tweets worldwide are made in Saudi Arabia, according to a study by Statista in November 2013. The recent Saudi Arabian study also suggests that the many Saudis on Twitter have no intention of leaving the social networking website any time soon.Written by :