Even though Saudi Arabia said all the right things in announcing their 34-nation Islamic military coalition against terrorism, their words were only a sham.
Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman said that the new coalition underscores “the Islamic world’s vigilance in fighting” the scourge of terrorism.
His words are only for show aimed at appeasing the world that after the Paris and San Bernardino attacks.
“The Saudis are under a lot of pressure, for what they’re doing in Yemen, from the accusations that they’re spreading Wahhabi ideology [i.e. ISIS ideology}, and for what they are not doing on the military side of the US-led coalition to defeat ISIS in Syria and Iraq. So I can see that this would have some propaganda value for them,” says Aaron David Miller, a former US diplomat in Middle Eastern affairs who is now a vice president at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington.
The Wahhabi interpretation of Islam began with 14th century scholar Ibn Taymiyyah, Abd al-Wahhab, who despised “the decorous, arty, tobacco smoking, hashish imbibing, drum pounding Egyptian and Ottoman nobility who traveled across Arabia to pray at Mecca.”
The present-day Saudi royal family has, for many years, have used Wahhabi teachings to control the common people of their country. However, the royal family members are not necessarily Wahhabi believers themselves.
“We already have a coalition of 65 countries engaged in the fight to defeat ISIS, and only a half dozen of those countries count and are of any practical value,” Miller adds. “So I just don’t see how a coalition of 34 very diverse Muslim countries is going to have any more than symbolic value.”
More precisely, how can Saudi Arabia, the founder and supporter of ISIS, join any coalition to defeat ISIS? ISIS is the child of Wahhabi ideology, the Saudi brand of radical Islam.
“I think [the new coalition] is more symbolic than anything. It’s a response to international criticisms that the Saudis aren’t doing enough to stop ISIS,” says Farea al-Muslimi, a specialist in Gulf and Yemeni politics at the Carnegie Endowment’s Middle East Center in Beirut, Lebanon.
Even Senator John Kasich in the December 15 Republican Presidential debate, fell for the propaganda, citing twice the Saudi coalition as a partner of the U.S. in the war against ISIS. In the same debate, Mario Rubio mentioned several times that Sunni fighters would hopefully join the U.S. in fighting ISIS. Sunni boots on the ground is highly unlikely, as the Sunnis are more apt to be for ISIS than not. Even Jeb Bush stated that we needed Arab help to defeat ISIS.
Muslim countries have acted in ways that have abetted ISIS, Muslimi says. For example, Saudi Arabia’s nine months of military intervention in Yemen has paved the way for ISIS to expand in the country’s south, he says.
“It’s an easy hitchhike for ISIS” to benefit from chaos and the breakdown in government authority in a poor country like Yemen, Muslimi says.
At a press conference in Paris, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir cited the case of Libya, where the U.S. on Hillary Clinton’s convincing of Obama to overthrow Libya’s government which plunged the country into civil war, allowing ISIS to establish in Libya what is now considered to be their second most important base of operations after Raqqa in Syria.
The Saudi 34-nation coalition is headquartered in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where it will do little or nothing. This is why the Saudis have provided scant information about the real goal of their coalition.
The US, Russia, and other powers are trying to reach a cease-fire accord and political transition plan for Syria aimed at ending the country’s nearly 5-year-old civil war. Secretary of State John Kerry was in Moscow Tuesday meeting with President Vladimir Putin, and Syria talks are to continue in New York on Friday.
What Saudi Arabia is really doing is shown by their war in Yemen against the Shiite-sect Houthis, which is much like the ISIS Saudi proxy war to unseat Shiites in Syria. In Yemen the Saudi bombings has led to an opening of southern Yemen to ISIS control, Muslimi says, “One more day of this war is 10 golden days for ISIS.”
This can be added to the Saudi’s “golden days” for ISIS in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Paris and Bakersfield, California where a Pakistani/Saudi woman murdered Americans.
The author, John Harding, lived and worked in Saudi Arabia for nine years.