WaPo: The Saudis’ ‘Religious-Industrial Complex’

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz (C) walks surrounded by security officers to receive Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa (unseen) upon the latter's arrival in Riyadh to attend the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit on May 5, 2015.

From the Washington Post:

The rise of the Islamic State has led to remarkable growth in Western criticism of Saudi Arabia. Often, these critics go far further than simply claiming that the Gulf kingdom, one of the West’s most important allies in the region, is not pulling its weight in the fight against the Islamic State.

Instead, they argue that the very theology upon which the Saudi state depends — an ultraconservative brand of Islam dubbed Wahhabism — is the same as the apocalyptic distortion of Islam that drives that group to terrible acts. They argue that, far from being two enemies opposed to each other, the two powers are hopelessly intertwined.

A number of human rights scandals in Saudi Arabia (including cases of public floggings, beheadings and “crucifixions”) have further added fuel to that criticism.  In the aftermath of the Islamic State’s attacks in Paris, Algerian writer Kamel Daoud summed up what many were thinking with a powerful article for the New York Times. “Daesh has a mother: the invasion of Iraq,” Daoud explained, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State. “But it also has a father: Saudi Arabia and its religious-industrial complex.”

It’s a harsh criticism and one that Saudi officials have gone to lengths to deflect and counter. At least on the surface, the Islamic State and Saudi Arabia are clearly opposed to each other, with the extremist organization believing that the Saudi state is run by apostates. Militants from the Islamic State have carried out at least four bombings on Saudi mosques in the past year.

The Saudi state does appear to have thrown its weight behind the fight against the Islamic State, with considerable amounts of funds and resources going to projects designed to counter terrorism and extremism. “I think the Saudis view themselves as being at the forefront of the global effort to combat terrorism,” Fahad Nazer, a former political analyst at the Saudi Embassy in Washington and a senior political analyst at JTG, said.

So is Saudi Arabia doing enough in the fight against the Islamic State? And is it enough?

Read the rest of the story here.


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