by Turki Al-Owerde
After a recommendation by Anna Sacher, who’s a great friend from Austria, it was wonderful to read an article ‘Saudi Arabia and Regional Leadership’ authored by Professor Dr. F Gregory Gause, III, Professor of International Affairs and 44th President of John H. Lindsay at the Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University, and chair of the school’s international affairs division.
I was astonished by Professor Gause’s interest in the Middle East, its process, and its geopolitical strategic outcomes, as he mentioned many interesting points, some of which are completely realistic, and some of which represent the professional views of a respected expert. However, Professor Gause overlooked an essential point in this frame of respectful work, as the professor cited some of the prevailing fallacies in Western consciousness about the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The issue most subject to misunderstanding and false advertising is the wrong link (intentionally or unintentionally) between two approaches.
The fundamentalist Islamic belief espoused by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, called Salafism, can be defined as the original Islamic methodology that prevailed in the era of the first early Islam and the following period, which Muslims title “the preferred centuries” because of its proximity to the era of prophethood.
Salafism is not a sect, national, or ethnic doctrine, as it has been systematically and falsely promoted by all sects of Mubtadi’ah and Khawarij, the terms used by great Muslim scholars to describe those who challenge pure Islam. It happened that some Western circles in decision-making, think-tank centers, and media could adopt Mubtadi’ah and Khawarij to define the general Islamic context and to stigmatize both Islam and Muslims with such a hostile approach.
Salafism is a wide approach, but it is specific and detailed, as it is based on the absolute reference of the divine revelation (i.e., the Qur’an and the Sunnah) and on an objective methodology stipulated by God Almighty in the Qur’an, approved and recommended by the last Messenger of God Mohammad (Prayer and Peace Be Upon Him) and applied in his life and by the companions of the messenger, as it has been applied by the great Muslim scholars, i.e., those who have attained broad consensus among Muslims.
Unfortunately, many extremist groups and organizations across Muslim regions and in Europe and the United States claim they are Salafis and that they adopt the methodology of Salafism, while in fact they are using the name “Salafism” as a strategy of deception and maneuver, in order to penetrate Islamic societies and, unfortunately, also from my perspective, the ease with which the centers of studies and research and media in the West fall into this trap or its adoption of this trend intentionally to achieve the ideological goals of hostile to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Mubtadi’ah and Khawarij, who are a broad spectrum, fragmented and contradicted, have common factors, such as sectarianism, selectivity, vengeance, aggression and revolution, as a methodology that contradicts the principles of Islam and the Islamic Purposes upon which Muslim scholars have been unanimous for centuries for 1400 years. Rather, the matter often comes to hostility against the principles and provisions of Islam and hostility against Muslim scholars and against Muslim societies, peoples, and governments.
Under the heading of (Mubtadi’ah and Khawarij), there are multiple extremist revolutionary groups that pursue aggressive paths and tend toward domination, such as the Iranian regime and its militias, that is, Al Qaeda, ISIS, and Takfir groups. It is unfortunately the most resonant and attractive voice for research, think tanks, and media throughout the West. All of these trends raise aggressive slogans that claim to be Islamic, while they are actually contrary to the ABCs of Islamic principles and laws (Shariah).
Unfortunately, Professor Gause has shown confusion ideologically, intellectually, politically, and socially between the two conflicting approaches. He set up an approach that has been able to build a modern nation state that enjoys prosperity, advanced infrastructure, and high-quality services and is considered one of the most important pillars of peace, respects international laws, and widely enjoys respect around the world, in parallel with rogue and backward groups, which does not possess any religious or political legitimacy, nor does it have any respect anywhere, except in some Western hegemonic policies.
This confusion may be due to Professor Gause not having direct contact with the details of the Islamic status or perhaps because we, Muslims, especially the Saudis, did not make sufficient efforts to explain our view – or due to both.
The (Muslim Brotherhood) organization is considered one of the most dangerous secret organizations ever, as it is responsible for providing the ideological infrastructure for extremist and terrorist organizations, and it undertakes the process of breeding, training, programming, and planning the leaders and primary cadres of extremist and terrorist organizations, such as Al Qaeda and ISIS. It also has wide extensions in Europe and the United States in a way that may seem provocatively peaceful when it’s not.
Iran represents the most prominent title of the Shiite religion, as the Shiism origins are based on polytheism (reverence for historical figures in an extremist way), hatred, and takfir in a way that does not differ systematically from the usual appearances of Al Qaeda and ISIS; however, Shiism goes far beyond that, where hatred against the living and dead Muslims is considered “religiously and fundamentally” an origin of the belief system. Shiite religious ceremonies and rituals are characterized by absolute gloom, blood, cursing, and expressions of hatred, in a way that the Shiite references “Mullahs” agree, implicitly or explicitly; further, export of the revolution is one of the constitutional pillars of the Shiite belief in the Iranian regime.
The most important and clear policy of aggressive hegemony, which the Iranian regime applies on a large scale, is (exporting the revolution) stipulated in the Iranian constitution; thus, Iran has established and financed extremist terrorist groups in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and even Bahrain, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia.
The loyalty that Professor Gause sees in extremist groups affiliated with Iran stems from the nature of Shiism, which is based on mafia authoritarianism, focused mental and emotional programming based on hatred and aggression and the assassination of self-esteem at an early age.
The best realistic description that can be given to Turkey is the sharp dichotomy among the cultural, intellectual, political, and economic alienation in favor of Western European values, the inability to meet European demands, and the Arabian and Islamic historical reference that allowed the Turkish people to migrate from Central Asia to settle in the Anatolian plateau after the Arabs gave them the opportunity to be on the world map.
After secularism failed to achieve the goals of the Turks, the Turks began to restore the Ottoman Empire history; in addition, for two decades, the Turkish regime has been trying to send out this feeling to the Turks and to use the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS to support this illusion; fortunately, it collides with the wall of cards completely exposed in the region, where the history of the Ottoman occupation reveals extreme aggression and racist views against the Arabs and the rest of the peoples of the Middle East.
Over the past 40 years, it has become clear that all these parties (Mubtadi’ah and Khawarij), including Iran, Turkey, and the Muslim Brotherhood and their interests, amazingly in intersection with some Western powers, have clearly agreed on one common factor: hostility toward the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This is understandable given that their ideological orientations reject the objective methodology of Salafism, which is adopted by Saudi Arabia; further, these parties believe that Saudi objectivity is deeply rooted, and that it is able to expose their political and ideological games and to reveal the futility of their extremist trends that pursue deception, evasion, and disrespect for the interests of the peoples.
The Turks have for a long time adopted the Arabic letter for their language; in 1928, they switched to the Latin letter after failure of the Ottoman Empire. The Iranians still use Arabic letter for Persian; maliciously, they rely on Arabian historical figures to promote their aggressive ideology against the Arabs.
Jealousy among the Arabs and the Arabian civilization is understandable, but what is incomprehensible is the deep feeling of inferiority that turned into extreme aggression by the Persians and the Turks against the Arabs.
Many people in the region and around the world, especially in research centers, studies, and media in the West, carry misconceptions about the Saudi intervention in Yemen, which is an intervention within a regional alliance with 10 countries, including Egypt, Sudan, Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Morocco, and this intervention enjoys regional and international legitimacy and even Yemeni legitimacy via the legitimate Yemeni president, recognized locally, regionally and internationally.
It has never been among Saudi Arabia’s goals to subjugate Yemen or even to subjugate the Houthis to its direct authority. Rather, there was and still is one goal, which is to protect Saudi national security and protect the interests of allies. Saudi Arabia has achieved the main goal of Decisive Storm, which was to remove the strategic risk by eliminating the Houthi coup against Yemeni legitimacy and by eliminating the strategic danger that is represented by the Houthi minority controlling Iran over the Yemeni majority and eliminate the Houthis’ strategic military capabilities. This goal was achieved within a month of the war.
Saudi Arabia could have used dangerous military tactics, and it would have achieved a sweeping victory, and the world could not challenge the fait accompli, as Russia and the Syrian regime and Iranian militias in Syria, Iranian militias in Iraq and Syria, and NATO in Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan could have achieved.
Islam’s fundamentalist yet moderate methodology (Salafism) is based on well-established moral principles and rules that outperform counterparts around the world, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This methodology regulates all life affairs, including peace and war, the protection of religions, lives, property, peace, and security, under a well-established system called “Al-Maqasid: Legitimate Purpose” in Islamic law; thus, Saudi Arabia has taken care to protect the Yemeni people, even the Houthis, through an ethical approach toward managing military operations and through the King Salman Relief Center (unrivaled), which has provided billions of dollars to support the Yemeni people, believing in the importance and necessity of protecting their humanity and interests.
During the COVID-19 crisis, which has resulted in huge global economic losses, the Saudi government, through its leadership of the G20, has rushed with partners to look for effective economic solutions to address wide impacts on the global economy. Saudi Arabia decided to provide free health care to people who got infected with the COVID-19 virus, i.e., citizens and foreign residents of Saudi Arabia. The same health care applies for all illegal residents. Saudi Arabia has decided, according to the requirements of the Islamic objectives (the purposes of Shariah), to protect human beings regardless of the costs. Saudi Arabia also has been providing its citizens during the past 90 years with free health care, free education, free scholarships, housing land grants, and soft loans for various purposes, even for marriage or home renovation, as per the pure Islamic understanding of human rights, as adopted by Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia has also adopted strict and decisive rules of engagement to limit civilian and military losses. Incidentally, one of the most important reasons for the transfer of American forces to Qatar, which came to the Arabian Gulf when Kuwait was liberated from the Iraqi invasion, as American military commanders stated, was the strict military rules of engagement imposed by Saudi Arabia.
The Fallacy of Seeking Domination
It is surprising that Professor Gause misses the clarity of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia regarding its policies and goals and its refusal to adopt or seek hegemony, which has been clear since the establishment of the Saudi state in 1744 and most clearly since the unification of the modern Saudi state (the Kingdom Saudi Arabia) in 1932 AD.
From an early age, Saudi Arabia accepted relatively small or small states on its borders; further, Saudi Arabia was able to annex them in one way or another – all due to Saudi Arabia’s respect for the peoples who have borders, order, leadership, and a state, no matter how small their land and population.
In fact, Saudi Arabia, throughout its modern history, has not witnessed a single incident of aggression against its neighbors. Rather, it has always sought realistic understandings in order to protect the common interests of the peoples. Saudi Arabia was not satisfied with this; rather, it has been protecting its neighbors from the domination of Iran, Turkey, and others and left to its neighbors the freedom of their national choices and the freedom to manage their domestic, regional, and international affairs; the only acceptable criterion was not to adopt policies that threaten Saudi interests and the interests of its allies.
The policies of Saudi Arabia are clear and decisive with regard to refusing to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries and, therefore, decisively rejecting interference in Saudi internal affairs.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir stated clearly and unequivocally in a meeting held on July 9, 2016, at Chatham House Institute, that Saudi Arabia is a modern nation-state, and that the Saudi strategy focuses on the security and prosperity of the Saudi citizen, and does not adopt or seek hegemony. It will reject and resist any similar policy from other countries.
Turkei Al-Owerde is Editor-in-Chief and Political Analyst of the Herald Report. His knowledge of the religious undertones of most Muslim Terrorist Organizations makes his many “conflict analysis” a valuable source of information for many security experts from around the world. He regularly tweets under @Turki_AlOwerde.