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Saudi Arabia Is Trying to Remake the Middle East In Its Image: Report

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Aug ,12\ NewNews

No country has done more to spread radical Islam than Saudi Arabia.

By: MICHAEL HORTON

No country has done more to spread radical Islam than Saudi Arabia. For the better part of four decades, the oil rich nation has—through public and private institutions—funded a multiplicity of organizations dedicated to spreading the most radical and reductionist interpretations of Islam.

In short, the weaponization of Islam is a core part of Saudi foreign policy. It is the primary means by which the country projects power and secures influence in countries across the Middle East and the broader Muslim world. So far, with U.S. complicity, the strategy has enjoyed great success.

In Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, Saudi Arabia is overtly and covertly funding a host of armed groups who, if not openly allied with groups like al-Qaeda, are largely devoted to achieving the same aims, namely the creation of some kind of state governed by a radical interpretation of Islamic law. Despite the fact that fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers held Saudi passports and were possibly aided by Saudi officials, the US government has largely ignored the role Saudi Arabia plays in advancing radical ideology. This is the same ideology—with a few subtle differences—that is at the heart of terrorist groups like the Islamic State. Not only has the US ignored the role that Saudi Arabia plays in fostering radical ideology across the Muslim world, it is now aiding what can only be described as reckless adventurism in countries like Yemen and Syria.

In Yemen, Saudi Arabia is engaged in a war that has laid waste to an entire country and produced what is now the world’s most pressing and neglected humanitarian crisis. The chief beneficiary of Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen has been al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). While Saudi jets have relentlessly bombed everything from hospitals and farms to refugee camps in Yemen, they rarely if ever target AQAP’s strongholds. AQAP occupied and governed the Yemeni port city of Mukalla for a year without ever having to worry about being targeted by Saudi forces. AQAP and Saudi Arabia are fighting the same enemy: the Houthis, a Zaidi Shia rebel movement.

The war in Yemen has demonstrated the limitations of Saudi foreign policy and most critically, the weakness of its armed forces which routinely fail to defend the country’s border against incursions by Houthi-aligned forces. Most importantly, the war in Yemen should be a deafeningly loud warning to U.S. policy makers about the dangers of allowing Saudi Arabia to continue its transition from soft to hard power projection. This transition has already resulted in the empowerment of AQAP and other terrorist organizations. This alone should be great cause for concern.

Of even greater concern is the danger the transition now poses to stable countries in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia and its ally the UAE are now enforcing a blockade of Qatar. Ironically, the reason for the blockade is Qatar’s alleged support of terrorist groups. Without being checked by the U.S., Saudi Arabia’s move from soft power to hard power threatens to turn what is already the world’s most troubled region into a cauldron of chaos. The spillover from such policies could be even more costly than Saudi Arabia’s unchecked funding and support of radical Islamists across the Muslim world.

 

Source: The American Conservative

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