One of the commenters to my posting, UK newspapers call on Vladimir Putin to keep calm over downed jet, asked:
“What irreconcilable opposing interests do Russia and the west have? Excuse the naive question, but can someone better informed than me say why Russia’s the enemy and (Erdogan’s) Turkey, Saudi Arabia or Qatar are staunch allies?” – samwisehere
It’s a fair question and reminded me of a challenging op-ed article in the New York Times last Friday, Saudi Arabia, an Isis that has made it, by Kamel Daoud.*
He contrasted the behaviour and culture of Isis (black Daesh) with the state ofSaudi Arabia (white Daesh). He began: “The former slits throats, kills, stones, cuts off hands, destroys humanity’s common heritage and despises archaeology, women and non-Muslims. The latter is better dressed and neater but does the same things.”
But the west wages war on one while shaking hands with the other and forgetting that the kingdom “relies on an alliance with a religious clergy that produces, legitimises, spreads, preaches and defends Wahhabism, the ultra-puritanical form of Islam that Daesh feeds on.”
Daoud described Wahhabism as “a messianic radicalism that arose in the 18th century” which “hopes to restore a fantasised caliphate centered on a desert, a sacred book, and two holy sites, Mecca and Medina.” He continued:
“The west’s denial regarding Saudi Arabia is striking: it salutes the theocracy as its ally but pretends not to notice that it is the world’s chief ideological sponsor of Islamist culture.
The younger generations of radicals in the so-called Arab world were not born jihadists. They were suckled in the bosom of Fatwa Valley, a kind of Islamist Vatican with a vast industry that produces theologians, religious laws, books, and aggressive editorial policies and media campaigns.”
He accepted that Saudi Arabia was a possible target of Daesh but that “overlooks the strength of the ties between the reigning family and the clergy that accounts for its stability — and also, increasingly, for its precariousness.”
For Daoud, the maintenance of good relations with Saudi Arabia undermines “western democracies’ thunderous declarations regarding the necessity of fighting terrorism…
“Since Isis is first and foremost a culture, not a militia, how do you prevent future generations from turning to jihadism when the influence of Fatwa Valley and its clerics and its culture and its immense editorial industry remains intact?”
And he concluded by observing:
“Daesh has a mother: the invasion of Iraq. But it also has a father: Saudi Arabia and its religious-industrial complex. Until that point is understood, battles may be won, but the war will be lost.”
I concede that much of this has been said before. But not often enough, I’m afraid.