"Saudi Arabia has formally designated the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation. An interior ministry statement also classified two jihadist groups fighting with the Syrian rebels – the Nusra Front and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant – as terrorist groups. The statement gave Saudis fighting in Syria 15 days to return. A royal decree issued last month said any citizen found guilty of fighting in conflicts abroad faced a jail sentence. This is the strongest warning so far to Saudis fighting with extremist groups in Syria. The Saudis clearly now fear similar blowback from having encouraged jihadist rebels there as they faced a decade ago when militants returning home attacked domestic targets. The statement also bans an exhaustive list of activities – including meetings, funding and online communication – that could be seen as supporting such groups. But it goes further, encompassing any activism seen as seditious. The message goes wider too – coming as it does in the midst of a diplomatic offensive against Qatar. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain have all withdrawn their ambassadors from Doha in an unprecedentedly public dispute over Qatar's perceived support for the Muslim Brotherhood. Hundreds of Saudis are believed to be fighting in Syria, and correspondents say Riyadh fears they could pose a security risk when they return home. Although the kingdom has supported the Sunni-led rebels fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, it has long feared a backlash from radical jihadist groups. Last month, King Abdullah decreed jail terms of up to 20 years for anyone belonging to "terrorist groups" or fighting abroad. The new law also promised tough sanctions for anyone backing the incriminated organisations." BBC
This sounds like bad news for the designated groups. It is also bad news for Prince Bandar bin Sultan who has been the executive agent for provision of Saudi funding and political support for jihadi groups in many regions. He is an interesting character. A Princeton graduate and a jet pilot, at one point he was dean of the diplomatic corps in Washington and had many american "friends" among the mighty. This started to "go South" for him when an unencrypted phone call between him and his father revealed how much he despised and mocked the very people he professed to admire. His mother was an Ethiopian (jarriya habashiya- slave concubine) and although always a wunderkind of the Saudi royal family, Bandar was never a possibility to be king. The Saudis are much more racist than they admit to.
Both the Russians and the Iranians have had serious discussions with King Abdullah bin Abd al-Aziz on the subject of possible severe retribution for continuation of support for such groups.
It seems that these talks have had effect. pl
So the Saudis are learning the same lesson that the Pakistanis (another group not as clever as they think they are):
Lie down with dogs, get fleas.
This story, the story about China drawing the line in Korea, and Putin’s putting the brakes on Obama’s expansion/interference, to me signifies that there has been a tectonic shift in affairs. Add the tenuous U.S. economic position and enormous albatross that is the debt, and I get a feeling that the U.S.’ world is about to implode. How that shakes out is anyone’s guess, but I do get the sense that we are on the verge of something earth-shattering – on the lines of the fall of the Wall in 1989.
I don’t understand one aspect of their policy. Surely, they MUST know they’re playing with sharp tools and are liable to cut themselves in their sponsership of Jihadi groups in Lebanon, Syria Iran and their naked attempt at bribing Russians(we’ll buy your hardware weapons).
Why do they need someone else to come and tell it to them? They do know their position is always precarious and they’re targets by their own Sunni fringe groups. Why do this at all? They don’t have an army worth the minimal discipline to hold their country together, why go after Iran/Iraq internal affairs? Isn’t the army managed by Pakistani officers?
Why do this, when the simplest of activity, the elimination of key members of the royal family can bring about complete halt to SA?
“Saudi Arabia turns away from the jihadis in Syria.”
The Saudis now support the “Islamic Front” in Syria which silently cooperates with Jabhat al-Nusra and other nefarious outlets.
I have yet to see that the new “Islamic Front” is any less “Jihadis” than the now Saudi banned groups.
As for Bandar. I was sure after the Russians leaked Bandar’s threat to attack the Olympics in Sochi that they would find serious ways to kick the Saudis a**. I do not know how they did it but it had the desired effect.
The Saudi believe their own BS like so many in the world. pl
The Saudis rolled the dice and lost! Will the US give Bandar asylum and let him enjoy his Vail mansion?
“Both the Russians and the Iranians have had serious discussions with King Abdullah bin Abd al-Aziz on the subject of possible severe retribution for continuation of support for such groups”
I wonder if Bandar really thought he could threaten Putin, Russia, with unleashing Jihadis on the Sochi games, without consequences.
I didn’t imagine the Russians to take that lightly. They must have made their point quite forcefully. I read stories how the Russians persuaded some of the Lebanese factions that kidnapping Russians was a really stupid thing to do.
They spoke softly and carried a big stick?
Apparently, probably for the sheer fun of stick wielding, speaking softly has become unfashionable in the US, certainly with Kerry and his troupe, not to mention that the Bushmen didn’t like speaking softly either, alas …
As to Bandar and his apparent fall from grace -, good, and good riddance.
From personal experience I can tell you that Bandar has a Saudi ego but on steroids. pl
We should find some excuse to put him in Gitmo. pl
b and confusedponderer,
There was a report of panic buying in Riyadh after the story of the Putin-Bandar meeting was made public, suggesting that Russia would retaliate on them if any thing happened in Sochi.
Are Saudi citizens allowed to own firearms?
Those who hold Saudi passports are not citizens (muwatineen) They are subject of the king in a country that has no civil law and no constitution. “Our law is sharia.” and it is Hanbali sharia as well. So far as I know, only carefully vetted civilians are allowed firearms as well as the armed forces, police, national guard. pl
The Saudis pull back from the Sunni/Shiite Jihad is another “The World Turned Upside Down” event. Too bad the American leader won’t fire the Prince Bandar’s regime change compatriots; Victoria Nuland, Susan Rice and Samantha Powers.
As soon as it is clear that the Assad Regime survives and that Crimea is permanently annexed to Russia; the “hew and cry” about who lost Syria and Ukraine will rain down on the Democrats. This more than anything will restart the Cold War and may well destroy mankind; unless, there is a clean sweep in DC.
Thanks again for your intelligence and guts. I always feel compelled to add something to your posts; but, by comparison, I write like a retired one trick pony.
I was curious because I read were the Brotherhood had support in the middle classes that this recent declaration might force their hand.
I should have known better, King = subjects.
Thanks for this post. It is the best news I’ve read in a long long time.
He sold it in 2012 to Paulson, the Hedge Fund subprime short seller for $49M ( from the 2006 asking price of $135M)
PL! Perhaps foreknowledge of 9/11?
Is there any evidence thus far that might suggest BHO is also backing away from the SA ‘s and its jihadi supporting Elites ?
If memory serves me right Bandar and Bush enjoyed a visit at the White House on 9-12-2001 while the Pentagon smoldered. Isn’t true the Saudi Consulate in D.C. is one of the largest and most opulent of the Consulates.
Good. The Saudis just realized that they, being a rational enough country, should start thinking for themselves.
Events of the past few days, where diplomats in the EU and US have been raving incoherently about Russia, after raving incoherently about Syria, after raving incoherently about Sudan (etc) may have finally helped make up their minds
Bandar appears to be gone, but it is not yet clear how much of a pullback this is from his policies. It is quite possible that this shift is due to some realignment in the jockeying for the succession to the throne. It may well be a significant pulling in, with a restoration to primacy of the main policy goal of the royal family, ie, preservation of their rule.
The serious (and publicly manifested) opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood indicates an attempt at a close alignment with Sisi’s Egypt. This could be a pointer — Sisi appears to be dead set against all jihadis.
One would wish the neocons got that memo, considering with whom they’ve habitually been rubbing shoulders with against their enemies of choice.
MEK, Beluchi Jihadis against Iran, Jihadis from the Caucasus nagainst Russia (some of those live in the US, unpestered), airplane bombers against Cuba (lives unmolested in the US), the various Jihadis against Assad and so forth.
Anybody does, as documented in the photographs taken during the travels of the mandman John McCain.
To him the probably primary problem with the Boston bombers is that they, fools that they are, didn’t blow off their bombs in Russia.
My ex sister in law used to be friends with one of the Prince’s daughters. He is like many in the royal family. Outwardly they claim to be pious, but their person live’s are much different. He was the Ambassador for Saudi, yet his favourite drink was Johnny Walker Blue Label. Only the best if you are going to drink eh?
Their law is Shari’a but it only applies to those who dont have wasta (connections) or reshwa (money for bribes). It is more properly called a “cleptocracy” in that the ruling family fleeces the nation completely.
IMO there really is no such “beast” as the Saudi people. The inhabitants are a mélange of Beduin tribesmen, townsmen from all over the Islamic world and east coast Shia who in the main do not physically resemble the rest of the population. The state is called SAUDI Arabia for good reason. This is a family owned property and the family treat the other inhabitants with a certain amount of contempt. As I wrote earlier, Saudi passport holders do not have the franchise in any meaningful way, have no real civil rights except for those given than in sharia and are not free to be anything the regime does not want them to be. SA is a police state in which generalized surveillance is norm. it is an awful place. pl
There is no “nation” in Saudi Arabia – it is a very religiously heterogeneous place with non-existent social trust among the various population groups.
I think that in the Western sense of the word “nation” – a Folk – there are only a few “Nations” existing as a state in the lands of Islam – Morocco, Egypt, Bangladesh, and Senegal are those that come to my mind.
One would wish that EU leaders would resist the hare-brained ideas coming out of US as well….
I see a kinder, gentler scenario whereby the US slowly comes to the realization that the world has moved on from America’s post-WW II supremacy. I see the burgeoning MAD buildup between China and the US as a positive development, keeping the military and industrialists happy, while easing Americans into the grudging respect for the Chinese that we gave the Russians by the end of the Seventies.
I read an interesting Bob Kagan article predicting tri-polar hegemony shared among the US, Russia, and China. Even now, I have the sense of Putin and Obama working in tandem. Obama seems to do his best to thwart the Neocons at every turn.
In perhaps not-so-unrelated news, we are hearing more claims that the Lockerbie bombing was ordered by Iran rather than Lybia:
Not sure what to make of it.
What do you consider Iran to be?
“SA is a police state in which generalized surveillance is norm. it is an awful place.”
Sounds like an ideal target for a color revolution. Where are the calls for “freedom and democracy” from Neocons and appeals to save women, children, Jews and gays from the R2P crowd?
Ah yes, the Saudi Royal family is just part of the bigger family–the international community. Freedom and democracy and human rights are inoperative.
Unfortunately, I don’t think there is much chance of a revolution in SA. The regime has co-opted just about everyone with potential for that and they jail the rest if they show any sign of resistance. you might get a revolution from the religious right who feel correctly that the Sauds are sinners and corrupt. pl
Iran is the country of the Shia, for the Shia by the Shia based on the 2 major ethno-linguistic groups: Azeri Turks and Persians – together with a number of other minor groups.
Even if you had revolution there it only would make things worse; almost certainly a repeat of Libya or Somalia.
Using the term “heterogeneous” I dont really think is accurate. Not to the 15-20% of Shi’a who live in the country. They are not religious heterogeneous. I know that the extreme Salafi of the country dont see them as Muslim, and they certainly are second class citizens in their own country based on nothing more than they are Shi’a. They have committed mass murder and massive repression against the Shia of their country, so the nation itself is anything but religiously heterogeneous.
And strengthen Iran’s position.
Now that Gadhaffi is pushing daisies 6 ft below, there is a need for another scapegoat since nothing else is working to “net’ Iran.
Iran has just announced that Canadian and British citizens should join a group should they intend to visit Iran as a tourist. No more independent tourist visa will be issued to passport holders of these two countries.
Had there been some CDN or British spooks working under cover for the west?
For Canada I can understand after the fiasco of the foreign policy of Steven Harper and his bully FM. However, the British citizens , I am surprised.
I used the word heterogeneous inclusive of the other Muslim schools of Jurisprudence (“madhab”) that exist in that country and not just for the Shia.
And there is no “nation” in Saudi Arabia, just as it does not exist in Pakistan or in Afghanistan or India or Burma or Thailand or Malaysia or Indonesia.
The usage of that word, “nation”, in reference to these states only serves to obfuscate the reality on the ground.
Only in the Far East of the Eurasian landmass and the Far West of it you can usefully employ the category of “nation”.
For everything else in between, that just makes things worse; for the native leaders who want to forge a nation – like the Europeans – and for the Western people – like our own WRC – who are perennially in search of a nation.
Yes, too good to be true…
I too wondered why the Islamic Front wasn’t mentioned in that article.
So far as I know, no Sunni Mathahib other than the Hanbali are tolerated in SA. pl
Thanks The Beaver!
Thanks Babak I needed that!
I am with PL on this one. An extreme version of the Hanbali madhab, also known as Salafiya, is the only brand of Islam allowed in Saudi. Shi’a and Sufi texts and documents are banned and in the case of some Shi’a documents and texts, will land you in jail. There is not one Shi’a member of the upper establishment despite comprising some 15-20% of the Saudi population. Saudi society is not religiously heterogeneous for anyone except those that follow the Salafi brand of Islam.
Yes “tolerated” is the operative word here.
What I have been told is that there is very little mutual social trust in Saudi Arabia.
Perhaps a good metric for social/political/national cohesion in any country is the amount of internal tourism in that country; of which there is little in Saudi Arabia.
But its not our awful place. Be careful what you wish for.
You should know me well enough to sense that I want nothing in connection with SA. pl
Oh yes. Neocon equivalents we have also.