Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques is Nervous

"Ten years ago Bahrain forswore torture and set up a parliament, albeit with few powers. It was praised for this by Britain and America, but reforms have since stalled. Proper steps towards democracy will annoy some of the prince’s own relatives, who hold most of the high cabinet posts and much of the country’s wealth.

The government is also caught between its Western allies, who want to see democratic progress, and its Gulf neighbours, who urge caution. Saudi Arabia, with the largest population and the biggest unemployment problem, is especially troubled. Saudi pressure probably helps explain the sudden escalation of force in Bahrain last week. Indeed, the Saudi foreign minister, with four Gulf counterparts, visited Bahrain last Thursday to support its government. They warned against “foreign meddling”, usually code for Iranian interference; most of Bahrain’s protesters were Shia, but there is no evidence that they were helped by Iran. On February 23rd Bahrain’s king jetted off to Saudi Arabia for further talks about the unrest.

In Saudi Arabia itself, last week, seven men were thrown in jail for establishing a political party. This week King Saud, who is 86, returned to the country after lengthy medical treatment overseas. He offered $37 billion in new public spending to stave off unrest. Civil servants will get a pay rise; unemployed students will get grants; more housing is to be built. But as Shibley Telhami, a Middle East specialist at the Brookings Institution, has observed, Arab protesters are seeking dignity, not just bread. Saudis have been offered no more say in the way they are governed." --The Economist

BBC: "The daughter of the former Saudi oil minister, Sheikh Yamani, Dr Mai Yamani has said the economic measures announced this week by the Saudi King will not satisfy the demands of the country's young people. Dr Mai Yamani told the BBC World Service that greater political reform was urgently needed."


David All said...

"Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown!"
Definitely true right now throughout the Middle East.

The actions of the leaders of both Iran and Saudi Arabia, usually opponents, in trying to supress the wave of democratic protests against their authoritarian regimes reminds me of a Mad Magazine cartoon in the 1960s which showed the two rival Chinese dictators, Mao Tse-tung and Chiang Kai-shek arm in arm saying together: "We may not agree on a lot of things, but neither of us want to see a democracy around here!" (China)

ChrisPineo said...

Hey Mojo,

Do you Twitter?

Anonymous said...

Hey Mojo

when did your issues with Arabs and Sunni Muslims begin? You seem very troubled. I have many good friends who are from Saudi Arabia and other gulf countries and practice their faith. If you think it would help you I can arrange for you to sit with them. Best of luck with all you have to deal with.

Iraqi Mojo said...

Chris, I do not Twitter, but I've been thinking about starting.

Iraqi Mojo said...

Anonymous, why do you believe I seem troubled?

I guess you could say my "issues" with Arabs began when I was a child. I was 11 years old when I saw Death of a Princess with my parents. That film freaked me out as a kid. My parents were also disturbed by it. KSA seemed like an alien place, something to be dreaded. I saw that film when we were still in Colorado, as my dad was finishing up his PhD. That same year we moved back to Iraq, where we saw Saddam begin his mass murder and wars. Actually the mass murder had started months before we arrived. In the summer of 1980 we spent a few weeks in England, to visit relatives, and there we learned that two of my cousins had been murdered by Saddam's regime earlier that year. Saddam had just been inaugurated!

Not long after we moved into our house in Baghdad, I was in front of the house one day and a bunch of kids were standing around me asking me questions about America. One of them asked me which is more beautiful, Colorado or Iraq? I said Colorado. Another one of the kids, who came from a family of Saddam loyalists, responded by kicking me and hitting me repeatedly until somebody made him stop. That was my inauguration into Iraqi and Arab nationalism.

I think my "issues" with Sunni Muslims probably began in 2004, when suicide bombers from all over the Arab nation went to Iraq in the thousands and began exploding themselves and their car bombs among ordinary Iraqis. In 2006 I first heard the use of the term "3arab jarab", by an Iraqi relative. I really began sympathizing with Iraqi Shia, and I began hating, loathing the Wahhabi Wackos. It was bad enough what they did on 9/11, and then their terrorism in Iraq was heartbreaking and unforgivable.

In 2006 I read Shia Revival by Vali Nasr, and I learned more about the history of conflict between Sunna and Shia.

I do not hate Sunnis or Arabs. In my first post I mentioned my father's Sunni friend who was murdered by the regime in 1985. Many good Sunni Arabs were also victims of Saddam's tyranny.

Thank you for your offer. I know there are many good Saudis, and I hope they take over or have more influence in their country after the King and his men fall. Shaikh Yamani and his daughter, who was quoted in the BBC article I linked to in this post, are wonderful Saudis. I have met a few Saudi Shia (students in America). They were very friendly.

Anonymous said...

I hope you get some help. You really need it.

Iraqi Mojo said...

You think I should see a psychologist? A Sunni Arab one, perhaps.

Iraqi Mojo said...

Where do your Saudi friends live?

Dolly said...

☼ It was bad enough what they did on 9/11, and then their terrorism in Iraq was heartbreaking and unforgivable. ☼

Right. So the only thing you truly enjoyed was how the Crusaders suffocated people in shipping containers in Afghanistan.

Iraqi Mojo said...

All the bad things the Americans and other 'crusaders' did was also unforgivable. But we're talking about the Saudis here, the custodians of the two holy mosques, the controllers of the oil that lies beneath land where shia live.

Dolly, ever been to KSA? Are you a hijiyya?

Iraqi Mojo said...

Anonymous, could you ask your Saudi friends if they have heard anything about Ali Sbat? I can't seem to find any updates on that sad story.