Saturday, 17 January 2015 11:21 GFP Columnist - Basil Venitis
Saudi Arabia plays a double game, as many Saudi princes finance ISIS! - Islam is a lie, Muhammad a criminal, the Koran is poison. This is the new slogan on the flag of Saudi Arabia modified to declare truth and liberation.

We are relieved that the Saudi authorities have postponed blogger Raif Badawi’s second session of 50 lashes on medical grounds but we very concerned about his health and urge the authorities to abandon this barbaric punishment altogether because it could prove fatal.

Sentenced to ten years in prison and 1,000 lashes last November, the young blogger was due to receive the second round of 50 lashes after Friday prayers, but the doctor who examined him decided that he could not endure more flogging for the time being because he has not recovered from the first session a week ago. The second session has therefore been postponed until next Friday.

Saudi Arabia can do longer deny the gravity of this flogging, a barbaric punishment that is contrary to international law. In view of Badawi’s alarming condition after 50 lashes, how can the Saudi authorities envisage inflicting another 950 lashes? It is a death sentence. He would not survive. Saudi Arabia must immediately rescind this sentence to avoid doing something that cannot be undone.

The international community is showing increasing concern about Badawi’s fate. After statements by the United States, the European Union and Canada, where Badawi’s family has found refuge, the United Nations have now called on the Saudi authorities to stop the flogging and give Badawi a pardon.

Saudi Arabia is a vast criminal enterprise masquerading as a state. Saudi Arabia remains one of the top five executioners in the world. The death penalty is still applied to a wide range of non-lethal crimes such as adultery, armed robbery, apostasy, drug smuggling, kidnapping, rape, witchcraft, and sorcery. Since 2009, appeals by the growing human rights movement in the country have been met with harsh measures such as arbitrary arrests, detention without charge or trial, unfair trials, and travel bans.

The Arab Spring will eventually come to Saudi Arabia.  Despite generally good relations, Occident remains concerned about human rights conditions in Saudi Arabia and global terrorism of the Royal House of Saudi Arabia. Principal human rights issues include abuse of prisoners and incommunicado detention; prohibitions or severe restrictions on freedom of speech, press, peaceful assembly and association, and religion; denial of the right of citizens to change their government; systematic discrimination against women and ethnic and religious minorities; and suppression of workers' rights.

If an Arab Spring uprising completely disrupted Saudi oil production, Occident and the global economy would face a massive economic and strategic crisis. Russia and Iran as oil-producing states would likely exploit the crisis to increase their power around the world while undermining Occidental influence, especially in the Middle East. To guard against the economic and strategic dangers, Occident should prepare emergency measures before such a crisis. Releasing strategic petroleum reserves in coordination with other countries, tapping the North American energy resources, and reducing domestic energy consumption would limit the impact of the crisis and facilitate recovery. However, it is also in the U.S. interest to use its influence and resources to assist allies and friends during the crisis.

Saudi Arabia is a disgusting terrorist country that financed the 9/11 attack.  As has been documented repeatedly, Saudi Arabia is the major financial source of suicide bombers, religious incitements, extremist schools, and terrorist mosques throughout the world.  Petrodollars finance many terrorist groups, such as Hamas, ISIS, Mujahedin Khalq, al-Qaeda, and Fatah al-Islam. 

As the Saudi ruling family's ally and protector, the U.S. government and other institutions cannot be silent while Saudi institutions continue to promote its deadly ideology, Wahhabism. As the protector of the Royal House of Saudi Arabia, Uncle Sam has a responsibility to make it clear to the Saudis that religious incitements are not only a threat to Occidental democratic institutions, but also to the international community as well.

UK's biggest arms dealer, BAE Systems, regularly bribes Saudi princes with many billion euros. The bribes are made with the full knowledge of the British Ministry of Defense. The bribes have been discovered many times by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), but the SFO is stopped by the attorney general of UK, under pressure from the Royal House of Saudi Arabia.

When “Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed — and How to Stop It” was published in New York, Rachel Ehrenfeld never imagined that attempts to silence her book would emanate from London’s High Court. The book contained information from numerous reliable open sources on reputed funders of terrorism. Saudi billionaire Khalid bin Mahfouz, the former owner of the biggest bank in the Middle East, the National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia, claimed Ehrenfeld’s book damaged his reputation. That claim was accepted by a judge of the High Court, David Eady.

Saudis consider London the Mecca of libel tourism.  Saudi princes forced Cambridge University Press to pull back “Alms for Jihad: Charity and Terrorism in the Islamic World” by Millard Burr and Robert Collins. There is now considerable and worrying evidence that most Saudi charities support Islamist terrorist groups and Islamic conflicts across the world.

Because of it centrality to Islam and large repository of petroleum, Saudi Arabia plays major religious and economic roles worldwide. This makes the vast Saudi Kingdom and its stability of major concern to the international community, especially the United States, Saudi Arabia’s close ally. Is Saudi Arabia immune to the unprecedented Arab uprising? No one is ruling it out, but many feel turmoil could be averted if the Saudi ruling dynasty listens to and meets the rightful demands of its people, especially its restless youth. The U.S. and other Western democracies can help bring about a peaceful democratic transition in Saudi Arabia, a close economic ally of the West and a dominant player in the Arabian Peninsula.

The United States has a vital interest in ensuring that no hostile power exercises hegemony over the Middle East, which is not only a key region for energy production, global trade, and investment, but also a potential source of transnational terrorism and nuclear proliferation. The U.S. will likely need to selectively use force to ensure the continued flow of oil from the region, as it did in Operation Desert Storm. Securing the oil fields and supporting allies, especially GCC members and pro-American elements in Saudi Arabia, may be imperative.

Princess Basma Bint Saud Bin Abdulaziz, daughter of King Saud, points out Saudis lack and urgently need fundamental civil laws with which to govern their society. Princess Basma would like to see a proper constitution that treats all men and women on an equal footing before the law but that also serves as a guide to Saudi civil laws and political culture.

Princess Basma notes today in Saudi courts, all decisions are made according to the individual judge's biased interpretation of Koran. This is entirely dependent on his personal beliefs and upbringing rather than universally agreed principles or a written constitution as a guide.

In the crisis scenario, the economic crisis further undermines the EU political coherence. EU reaction is muted and fragmented because the many competing national interests prevent formulation of a coherent and truly effective response. Despite the EU’s efforts in recent years, the liberalization of its energy market is proceeding slowly and would likely stop completely during a massive Saudi oil-supply disruption as each member state tries to cut the best possible deal with other suppliers in Central Asia, the Middle East, and Russia. However, the EU is well positioned institutionally to oversee the member states while they implement oil-saving measures and share crude oil and refined products among themselves.

Princess Basma is not calling for an Occidental system but an adaptation of that system to suit Saudi needs and culture. In particular, the constitution should protect every citizen's basic human rights regardless of their sex, status or sect. Everyone should be equal before the law.

Current misogynist divorce laws are abusive. Today in Saudi Arabia, a woman can ask for a divorce only if she files for Khali and Dhali. This means either she pays a big sum of money or she has to get someone to witness the reason why she is filing for a divorce - an impossible condition to fulfill given that such reasons usually are the kind that remain within the four walls of a marriage.  Another way to keep a woman in the marital home against her will is the automatic granting of custody of any children over the age of six to the father in any divorce settlements.

Saudi misogyny is a direct result of the education Saudi children, boys and girls, receive at school. The content of the syllabus is extremely dangerous. For one, Saudi young are taught that a woman's position in society is inferior. Her role is strictly limited to serving her family and raising children. They are actually taught that if a woman has to worship anyone other than God it should be her husband, that the angels will curse her if she is not submissive to her husband's needs. Girls are also strictly forbidden from taking part in any physical education.

The focus in most of the misogynist Saudi educational system is on religious subjects such as hadith (sayings attributed to the prophet), Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), tafssir (interpretation of the Koran) and of course the Koran. The attitude is that learning itself, anything other than religion won't get you into heaven so don't waste your time. Princess Basma would like to see religious teaching limited to the Koran and the Sunna (the way the prophet lived), where the true ethics of Islam lie. The rest is blind rote learning of the most dangerous kind. It has left Saudi youth vulnerable to fundamentalist ideologies that have led to terrorism and abuse of women.

Princess Basma asserts that instead of wasting Saudi youths' intellect on memorizing quotations whose origins is uncertain (such as those found in hadith, Fiqh and tafssir) Saudis need to encourage them to think freely, innovate and use their initiative for the betterment of their society. Early Islam was a time of great creativity. Scholars excelled in sciences and literature. Islam should not be a shield behind which Saudis hide from the world but a driving force that inspires them to innovate and contribute to their surroundings. Princess Basma declares this is the true spirit of Islam.

The misogynist Saudi ministry of social affairs is tolerating cruelty towards women rather than protecting them. The only refuge homes that abused women can turn to are state ones. In these, women are continuously told that by seeking refuge they have brought shame on their families.

If they come from powerful families then they will be sent straight back to their homes in fear of the wrath of a powerful patriarch. As a result we have seen many cases of suicide by educated women, doctors and scientists who were sent back to their abusers. Princess Basma asserts Saudis need independent women's refuges where the rights of women are upheld and backed up by powerful laws that can override family traditions and protect women.

The misogynist ministry of social affairs not only abuses women's rights but is also one of the reasons poverty is rife in the kingdom. A corrupt system that lacks transparency has meant that more than 50% of Saudi population is poor and needy even though Saudi Arabia is one of the wealthiest countries on Earth.

Women in misogynist Saudi Arabia cannot get around or travel without a mahram (a kind of chaperone - usually a male relative).  At the time of the prophet, women used to have a man to accompany them but in those days Arabia was a desert literally full of pirates. Today the only purpose of such a law is to curtail women's freedom of movement. This not only infantilizes women but turns them unnecessarily into a burden on their men and on society.

While some degree of diplomatic engagement between U.S. allies and U.S. adversaries is inevitable during a crisis, the United States should make every effort to prevent a total disruption of its alliance relationships, including in the Gulf. The United States cannot secure its interests or fulfill its energy goals without its allies’ cooperation. A sound strategy lies in anticipating, planning, and preparing for possible scenarios such as this, rather than making up policies ad hoc as events unfold.

In Saudi Arabia, blasphemy against the Wahabi interpretation of Sunni Islam is punishable by death, but the more common penalty is a long prison sentence.  Mansor Almaribe, an Australian Shia, was arrested and convicted of blasphemy and for insulting the companions of the Prophet. He was sentenced to 500 lashes and a year in prison.

Saudi Arabia does not recognize freedom of religion and prohibits the public practice of any religion other than Islam. The government subjects Muslims who did not adhere to the government’s interpretation of Islam to political, economic, legal, social, and religious discrimination. Some non-Muslims face harassment, detention, and death.  Textbooks contain overtly intolerant statements against Jews, Shia and Sufi Muslims, and other religious groups.

Image Contributed by Basil Venitis

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