The Grand Delusion: Saudi Arabia professes to be 'rampart against Terror'

Catherine Shakdam
Catherine Shakdam is a political analyst, writer and commentator for the Middle East with a special focus on radical movements and Yemen. A regular pundit on RT and other networks her work has appeared in major publications: MintPress, the Foreign Policy Journal, Mehr News and many others.Director of Programs at the Shafaqna Institute for Middle Eastern Studies, Catherine is also the co-founder of Veritas Consulting. She is the author of Arabia’s Rising - Under The Banner Of The First Imam
The Grand Delusion: Saudi Arabia professes to be 'rampart against Terror'
Speaking at a reception marking the end of the Hajj pilgrimage earlier this week, King Salman ibn Saud, the grand Wahhabist monarch of Saudi Arabia, highlighted his country’s role in serving as a responsible power before the ravages of radicalism.

“The arms of terrorism have sought to harm the holy sites without any consideration to their sanctities … However, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia — with Allah's help and in cooperation with the kingdom's brothers and friends — have achieved great successes in eradicating terrorism and drying up its sources firmly and persistently,”King Salman remarked.

If one considers the kingdom has made a point of brutally silencing all those who ever dared offer a whisper of criticism against the state apparatus - whether religious, political or otherwise - one must ask what constitutes terror in the eyes of the House of Saud. There is a case to be made for state-run violence against pre-identified demographics, especially when those demographics happen to be those infamous ‘apostates’ they would like to see disappear from existence – namely, all non-Wahhabi Muslims.

Readers will recall how in January 2016 Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, an outspoken advocate for democratic reforms and religious freedom was beheaded, crucified over allegations he colluded with foreign powers - namely Saudi Arabia’s self-appointed nemesis: Iran.

On the matter, Toby Craig Jones pertinently remarked for the New York Post: “Over the past decade, Saudi rulers have turned to Iran and Shiites every time they needed an easy scapegoat. Anti-Iranian and anti-Shiite sentiments have long existed among religious extremists in the kingdom, but today they are at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s national identity.”

It has become increasingly difficult to draw a distinct line between Riyadh’s decisively aggressive stance, and actions against its detractors and those fronted by terror militants. Is a beheading less barbaric when dressed up in state legitimacy as opposed to ISIS’ unfettered taste for bloody theatrics? How does Sheikh al-Nimr’s execution fare in comparison to that of Russian Colonel Petrenko in May 2017?

Beyond the veneer of legitimacy, Saudi Arabia’s billions of dollars bought its leadership, how many can genuinely bite into the delusion Riyadh designed, and still argue reason? When men are flogged for thinking themselves free, and communities bulldozed as their faith upsets al-Saud's religious paradigm – never mind the systematic targeting of civilians in Yemen, I believe a rolling of the eyes or two are in order when confronted with such an inept statement.

Saudi Arabia may be many things: a violent theocracy, the place where humanity came to die, a cesspit for all things violent and terrible … but a bulwark against terror not likely.

As for King Salman’s claims his house, his monarchy, his fashion of ruling and ideology have somehow protected the sanctity of Islam’s holy sites, I must reserve a deafening chuckle of laughter … not to give into despair.

For all the centuries Islam’s holy places have withstood none has been more unforgiving than that spent under the thumb of the House of Saud and its Wahhabist clergy.

From the grand raid of the holy city of Karbala (Iraq) at the turn of the 19th century, to the destruction of the Baqee Cemetery in Medina and the bulldozing of Mecca’s religious cultural heritage, the Saudi monarchy has been systematic in its attack, unforgiving in its aggression, and down right colonial in its appropriation of Islam’s traditions.

Over 98 percent of the Kingdom's historical and religious sites have been destroyed since 1985, the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation in London told Time in November 2014. So much for protecting the sanctity of a faith one claims to not only represents but somewhat own!

Again here I must ask: how is Saudi Arabia behaving any differently from terror militants when it is advocating destruction to assert its ideology? Was it not the Taliban that relished in the destruction of Afghanistan’s Buddha statues? Hasn’t Saudi Arabia systematically rationalized its attack on Yemen’s civilians by arguing necessity or better yet: miscalculation?

In all cases, results have been eerily similar: utter destruction.

Isn’t enacted hatred the very definition of terror?

At the risk of angering Saudi Arabia’s establishment, I will argue that far from offering any form of protection against terror, Saudi Arabia has been terror’s very center of gravity - both its anchor and its energy source. Add to that the propensity to abuse, torture and otherwise brutalize pilgrims for kicks, and one could claim to have encapsulated the very essence of terrorism.

"We are determined, with God's permission, to continue to provide the highest level of services for the two holy mosques... to ensure the safety of those who seek the sacred house of God," King Salman said.

I’m certain such words will be of no great comfort for Seyed Jawad Qazwini, who, in 2007 was beaten to an inch of his life for standing a Shia cleric in Mecca during Hajj.

I will quote here a pertinent remark Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made to commemorate the end of the Hajj pilgrimage since it holds a mirror to the delusion Riyadh has fronted: “the world of Islam is suffering from insecurity: moral, spiritual and political.”

This insecurity if we refuse to name it still has nevertheless a clear patron, one so imbued with its own self-entitlement that it has come to claim for itself the very thing it is not. It is not so much cognitive dissonance we all suffer from but rather applied madness if we so dare consider King Salman’s statement to be true.

Saudi Arabia will never be anything else, but the fountainhead of terrorism, as Yousaf Butt wrote, unless its regime is reformed.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.