THE WORLD’S GREATEST THREAT: ISLAMIC FUNDAMENTALISTS
September 14, 2001
As the battle against Islamic fundamentalist terrorists intensifies, what will happen to the moderate states in the Middle East? Will they stand behind the West? Or could the wave of anti-American sentiment flooding the Middle East occasion governmental upheaval?
If the current pro-Western ruling parties in Saudi Arabia or Egypt are toppled, what then? Could a "Green Curtain" [The color of Islam] fall across the entire Middle East?
Over the past decade, the U.S.-sponsored negotiations provided the moderates with some sort of justification for remaining in the U.S. politico-economic camp. But, the continuation of the talks without concrete results, and without end, have undermined governmental and popular confidence in the peace process.
Frustration with the peace process is not the only factor contributing to the shifting political alignments within the Middle East. Changing economic conditions, aging monarchies and uncertain royal successions, coupled with a growing disenfranchised young population attracted to radical Islamic groups, could very well eradicate the moderates within the Arab world.
Consider Saudi Arabia—oil-rich (it sits on 25% of the world’s petroleum reserves), [an amazing fact...considering how the Lord gave more physical power to the West] militarily weak, keeper of Islam’s holiest places (Mecca and Kaaba) and OPEC’s decision-maker on world oil prices.
No doubt, Saudi Arabia is the first major target for Islamic radicals. Four key issues are increasing Saudi Arabia’s susceptibility to Islamic fundamentalists — Uncertainties over royal succession, economic difficulties growing pro-Palestine, anti-U.S. sentiment Most critically - and the fundamentalists drive to re-gain "the land of the holiest places.
The Koran never mentions the name Palestine. Knowing that the Bible mentions it [and condemns it] it can only mean one thing: The Islamic world received the name Palestine -- from the West.
The Question of Royal Succession:
The ruling family of Saudi Arabia, one of our most important allies in the Middle East, is headed for a crisis of leadership. King Fahd is 78 years old. Crown Prince Abdullah, who is expected to take over when King Fahd dies, is 77. The next likely candidate after Abdullah is Sultan who is already over 75. Sultan’s next five oldest brothers are all already well over 65.
The kingdom is, therefore, facing the prospect of having to appoint a new king every two or three years. Were the king a purely constitutional monarch uninvolved in the everyday business of the government, this might not matter. But, the king of Saudi Arabia makes virtually all the important decisions in the country, either personally or as prime minister.
The process of succession, as it is commonly understood, is supposedly a smooth one, with the throne passing from one brother through the lines of sons fathered by the founder of the kingdom, Abdul Aziz (often referred to as Ibn Saud).
But, the historical record shows that this apparent smoothness masks fierce intra-family rivalries that often fester for years. In the 250 years in which the Al Saud family has often dominated the Arabian Peninsula, such rivalries have occasionally led to interruptions in rule. Also, the notion that King Abdul Aziz wanted each of his sons to rule in turn (if they were able) is a myth.
The process is a far cruder quest for power. Joseph Kechichian, author of 'Succession in Saudi Arabia', reminds us how King Fahd compounded the confusion surrounding succession when he clumsily tried to clarify the question.
In a March 1992 edict, King Fahd recognized the claim to the throne of Ibn Saud’s grandsons, and also decreed that a king could both appoint and remove his successor. In effect, he opened up the succession race to more than 200 competitors, and ensured that no crown prince would ever feel secure.
Saudi Arabia’s Burgeoning Population and Growing Economic Woes:
For years the Saudi dynasty has successfully bought its subjects’ loyalty with a wide range of subsidies, free medical and educational services, governmental jobs and other benefits.
But times have changed. Saudi Arabia’s population growth rate is around 3.5%, higher than many African countries, which means that half of the population is now under 18.
Without fresh sources of capital, the Saudi economy simply cannot expand quickly enough to offer the next generation the myriad of benefits they have come to expect as their due. The very economic benefits that made the Saud dynasty’s authoritarian rule tolerable for the country’s 21 million people are already shrinking. Without major new streams of income (i.e. foreign investment), how long before the ordinary Saudis begin growing disgruntled with their own belt-tightening in contrast to the unchanged, lavish lifestyles and blatant corruption of the Saud family?
These reductions of government largesse are happening at the same time that ultra traditional Muslim groups have begun questioning the once sacrosanct religious credentials of the Sauds. Although total control of the media ensures no public criticism of the royal family, criticism cannot be completely suppressed, particularly amongst radicalized Islamic fundamentalists. Many of them oppose the "westernization" of Saudi Arabia. (Similar discontent led to the 1979 seizure of the holy places in Mecca, resulting in more than 200 deaths and 63 insurrectionists subsequently beheaded.)
Their opposition increased during the 1990-91 Gulf War. Stationing of non-Muslim foreign troops in the kingdom was seen as a defilement of Saudi soil.
Such growing discontent forced King Fahd to establish a rubber-stamp body to advise on government policies. However, such gestures may not be sufficient to stifle growing opposition to unrestrained rule by the Sauds.
Since it no longer can automatically buy the goodwill of its subjects, what else can it offer them, short of relinquishing some of its own power? But what will it do about those now challenging its role as keepers of Islam's holy places? If that, too, is in doubt, who will claim that right? Islamic fundamentalists?
Saudi Arabia’s Changing Attitude Towards the United States—Friend or Foe?
The escalating Israeli-Palestinian violence, coupled with the current U.S. military action over Iraq’s no-fly zones are widening the differences between the U.S. and its staunchest ally, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia and other Arab states are growing increasingly intolerant of the U.S.’s attitude towards Iraq’s Saddam Hussein. [The Islamic world cared more about Palestine....than they did Saddam's brutal treatment of their own] As one of the Arab world’s most vocal supporters of the Palestinians, Saddam is a popular figure in light of the escalating Israel-Palestinian tensions.
The Islamic Fundamentalists’ Threat to Saudi Arabia’s Future:
When Saudi Arabia opened its doors to America’s troops during the Gulf War, it ignited the rancor of the Islamic fundamentalists. The U.S. military presence in the land of Mecca was intolerable. In the words of bin Laden: "The call to wage war against America was made because America has spear-headed the crusade against the Islamic nation, sending tens of thousands of its troops to the land of the two Holy Mosques over and above its meddling in its affairs and its politics."
How much more Saudi Arabian "pandering" to the West will the Islamic fundamentalists tolerate?
In 1991, bin Laden was kicked out of Saudi Arabia for attempting to rouse opposition against the Fahd dynasty. Given the growing anti-American sentiment and the weakened state of the monarch, perhaps a second attempt might prove successful?
In a 1998 interview with bin Laden, ABC reporter John Miller posed the following question: "What do you see as the future of the Saudi royal family and their involvement with America and the US military?" Bin Laden replied: "History has the answer to your question. The fate of any government which sells the interest of its own people, and betrays the nations and commits offenses which furnish grounds for expulsion from Islam, is known. We expect for the ruler of the Riyadh the same fate as the Shah of Iran. We anticipate this to happen to him [King Fahd] and to the influential people who stand by him and who have sided with the Jews and the Christians giving them free reign over the land of the two Holy mosques. These are grave offenses that are ground for expulsion from the faith. They shall all be wiped out…"
Likewise, can Saudi Arabia muster the resolve and courage to continue backing U.S. interests? Many Saudis, mired in growing poverty and stripped of state-issued benefits, are growing less tolerant of the Fahd dynasty’s support of the U.S.
As the anti-Western rancor of the Islamic
fundamentalists spreads across the Arabian Peninsula, this dissent will grow stronger.
Fear and complacency are dangerous attributes. Consider the state of the Islamic
religion. Millions of moderate Muslims have allowed their religion to be besmirched by a handful of
fanatics. [Not according to their Koran]
Will this trend continue?
Will the people of the moderate Middle East states rally
against the fundamentalists and reclaim their religion,
or will they permit the continued exploitation of their
religion as a political tool by bin Laden and the like?
From their Koran:
Not equal are those believers who
sit (at home) and receive no hurt,
and those who strive and fight
cause of Allah with their goods and their persons.
Allah hath granted a grade higher
those who strive and fight
with their goods and persons than to those who sit (at home).
Unto all (in Faith) Hath Allah promised
good: But those who strive
and fight Hath He distinguished
above those who sit (at home) by a special reward.
[Who has more authority? the
'moderates' - or their allah?]
Fighting is prescribed for you
them [the 'Unbelievers]
ye catch them
From their Koran:
004.095 Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) and receive no hurt, and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah with their goods and their persons. Allah hath granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight with their goods and persons than to those who sit (at home). Unto all (in Faith) Hath Allah promised good: But those who strive and fight Hath He distinguished above those who sit (at home) by a special reward. [Who has more authority? the 'moderates' - or their allah?]
002.216 Fighting is prescribed for you
002.191 Slay them [the 'Unbelievers] wherever ye catch them
Clearly, Saudi Arabia’s oil (more so than its loyalty) is paramount to the U.S. America would never allow the Islamic fundamentalists to take control of the Arabian Peninsula.
If conditions deteriorate in Saudi Arabia, there may be only two options:
Extreme as this sounds, would we realistically allow bin Laden or his brethren to control the world’s oil supply? Clearly not. Obviously, the risks of such a colonialist stance would not be without grave consequence. Given the initial reaction of the fundamentalists to America’s military presence in the land of holy places, one can well imagine their ire should the U.S. take control of this sacred region. [Sacred to Muslims. The Lord owns the whole earth. This whole world is an enemy to the Truth. The Lord said "No" to Palestine]
While Saudi Arabia stands out as the greatest prize for the Islamic fundamentalists, the support of the remaining moderate states in the Middle East is critical as well. [That won't last...because they'll listen to their Koran before they will ever give in to the West....a fact that the West is in denial of] For the West, these countries are strategically positioned allies in the battle to return the values of civilization to the lawless factions of Islamic radicals. For the Islamic fundamentalists, these nations are key stepping stones in their battle to undo Western Civilization.
A Turning Tide in the Moderate Middle East
The failed peace process coupled with the escalating violence between Israel and Palestine [a fire that is raging out of control] have helped revive fervent fundamentalism in the middle and lower classes. Jerusalem has become a symbol for jihad.
A climate of revenge is brewing, and the U.S., which is blamed for giving Israel a qualitative military advantage over the combined forces of 250 million Arabs, is a target. "America has made Israel strong and gave it nuclear arms but will not allow Arabs to have them. America is guilty," claims Halil Hussein, a 43-year old shopkeeper in Cairo. In response to viewing images of Palestinian children shot dead in a vicious crossfire, Hussein declared: "In the name of the Prophet [Muhammad] , we cannot allow this to go on."
Palestinians are now viewed as the defenders of Islam. [Bingo] What is labeled terrorism in the West is privately hailed as a holy crusade in moderate nations like Egypt and Saudi Arabia. For many young people in the Middle East, bin Laden has become a hero. [the very reason the new World Court in NO WAY would want such a case! It would bring the wrath of the younger Islamic generation upon them] His network of holy warriors trained in Afghani camps, are role models for young men.
Yemen, a country debilitated by tribal conflicts, is the new haven for radical groups like Hamas, Egypt’s Islamic Jihad, and Libyan and Algerian Islamic Brotherhoods.
Governments, especially those weak like the one in Yemen, will not be able to condemn or combat this radicalization, otherwise they would lose popularity and look like [Israeli] allies says Hala Mustafa, head of the research unit for Political and Strategic Studies at the Al Ahram Center.
What about Egypt?
Anti-American sentiments are running high in Egypt, long considered the most moderate of the Arab nations, the first to make peace with Israel in 1979, and the most bloodied in the four wars the Arabs fought and lost against the Jewish state.
Voices in the streets of Cairo decry America, while the media has begun to condemn Mubarak’s support of Israel. In 1995, bin Laden tried and failed to assassinate Mubarak. How many more bullets, imported or domestic, can the Egyptian president dodge?
Egypt’s current regime is plagued by rising violence from Islamic extremists, an uninspired political climate, and continued unemployment and poverty. [poverty does not create murderers. That is an insult to the poor of this earth...who would die first -- before committing such a sin. Warped teachings are what create murderers...and they mostly begin with the cradle]
Mubarak will not step aside.
Inertia in Egypt's political system prevents the development of new leadership and stifles the ability of the system to mobilize its political resources behind economic reforms.
Similar to Saudi Arabia, the Egyptian leadership is supported by the population in exchange for jobs, free education, medical care and housing. However, the contract is breaking down under economic and social pressures, and support for Mubarak is eroding. Islamic activism is the most significant political trend in Egypt.
Egypt has seen previous Islamic "waves, " but this one, begun in the mid-1970s, [in more places than just Egypt] has escalated at an unprecedented rate. The current Islamic wave is larger, its penetration more pervasive, and the brutality of its extremists much greater.
Militants have become more sophisticated in handling the media and more agile in their choice of targets (foreigners, Christians). They now have the ability for sustained engagement. The militants today are younger (often in their teens), more rural, and more poorly educated compared to militants a decade ago.-- Arab public school books are filled with rage toward non-Muslims] Mainstream Islamic movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood have also grown more powerful. They dominate the education administration, provide a wide range of social services, and have gradually taken over most professional associations, such as those representing lawyers, engineers, and teachers.
The Islamic radical wave has multiple causes. These include rising unemployment, [not true. Many 'terrorists' have finances. bin Laden is one good example of this] growing class differences resulting from market reforms and an inadequate social safety net, sluggish democratization, and the growth of a lumen proletariat the fastest growing pool of recruits for violent movements.
The greatest cause....is the Koran SEE} Out of the mouth of 'allah' This world refuses to face that major Truth
The Islamic movements also feed on a cultural gap between the values of authenticity and modernity. Perceptions of Egypt's reduced regional and growing international role have also strengthened the Islamic drift.
What about Jordan?
Presently, Jordan’s monarch lashes out vociferously against both Islamic fundamentalists and other radicals. But, how long can young King Adullah II continue to resist the tide of popular opinion? As anti-Western sentiment mounts in the Middle East, how will Jordanians respond to their ruler’s pre-American attitudes and actions? Does, as bin Laden predicts, the Shah’s fate await Jordan’s ruler? Only time will tell.
The front line has already shifted from Israel to the United States. Where will the Islamic fundamentalists strike next? The moderate Arab states seem likely targets.