“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”
A new chapter and a new game is being introduced to the war on terrorism in the Middle East as a result of the Saudi Arabian bold political decision to enlist Muslim Brotherhood organization (Worldwide) , Al Qaeda with all its branches in (Yemen, Arabia, Levant) El Nusra Front of Syria , DAESH (The State of Iraq and the Levant), Hezbollah (Lebanon) , Al Hoothy Shia’ Brigades (Yemen) and all related and affiliated organizations which may indicate Muslim Brotherhood affiliated Palestinian based Hamas .
Saudi Arabia has finalized the game changing process that started with Egypt declaring the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group on December 2013 and Hamas declared by Egyptian courts as a terrorist organization on March 2014. Just 2 days from another shocking diplomatic decision of withdrawing Saudi Ambassador from Qatar for supporting Muslim Brotherhood, propaganda against the Saudi Kingdom through the Islamist propaganda machine Al Jazeerah . That decision was in coordination with the Emirati and Bahraini governments who felt the same threat from the small Gulf principality who seemed to aim for much larger role than its actual capabilities and size.
One of the most notable matters was that the Saudis didn’t ban officially these groups even at the height of the George Bush Administration War on Terrorism that had counter effect. The reasons were not exactly known but what is clear that the Saudi government has finally realized that his is a game of thrones and they have to choose sides now and not any other time especially that they have seen what these terrorist elements are able to do if nurtured and given sanctuary on their land. As a matter of fact, it was Saudi Arabia who has given shelter and financing to the Muslim Brotherhood during the crackdown on them by Nasser’s regime in Egypt in the 1960s. However, the very Muslim Brotherhood were the ones who repaid the Saudi government by plotting against them in an attempt to seize power in Saudi Arabia which led to banishing them from the kingdom. Saudi Arabia is no stranger to terrorism as the Kingdom has been fighting it since the infamous 1995 Khobar Towers Bombing that killed 19 US Servicemen and wounded 498 others in the most devastating terrorist attack in the Arabian Peninsula.
Furthermore, Saudi Arabian organizations have been propagating the Wahabbi doctrine for at least 4 decades and it is the basis of its interpretation of Islamic jurisprudence in the Kingdom. Without Saudi institutions funding the Salafists in Egypt , Iraq, Lebanon , Syria and other countries they would have seized to exist long ago . Though most of the money is not directly through Saudi government but the funding takes places under the Saudi Regime watch. Now it will be revealed if banning these Jihadist terrorist groups that all entirely adopt Wahhabi doctrine short of the Shia’a Hezbollah in Lebanon marks a shift in Saudi government domestic politics or adapting more moderate approaches to Islam’s interpretation. It’s not a secret that King Abdullah was criticized by his foes as leaning toward a more free society.
Accordingly, many question arise as a result of this unexpected decree including: would Saudi Arabia government curb on the activities of the Salafist or Wahhabis groups and their financiers like the Egyptian government did on the Muslim Brotherhood in an attempt to curb extremist views? How far Saudi Arabia will attempt to modernize its social structure as well as laws remains to be seen? And only time will answer these questions. But undeniably this is a historical step and decision for the Arabian kingdom that that might pave the way for a better future for the Saudi Arabians in the long term.
On the other hand, it’s noteworthy to observe that the Saudi decision was loaded by stipulations that seem questionable and require clarifications from Saudi government which includes; Prohibiting what is labeled as “the spread of Atheism”, Questioning the pillars of Islam , revoking the pledge of allegiance towards the rulers and elders (Wilat Al Amr) , advocating violence and calling for wars in other countries and finally pledging allegiance or endorsing party, group or individual in Saudi Arabia and outside. The decree also prohibits endorsing, donating or financing any violent or terrorist group by any means necessary regardless physically, through mass media or social media which can be understandable but never mentioned exactly the parameters and methods of applying this decree.
The above mentioned stipulations, indicates that the new decree though historical is not without its possible disadvantages only yet to be seen in practice and Saudi government is recommended to clear these ambiguities in order for the law to be effective and focused only on fighting terrorism not personal rights.
The bold decree by the Saudis if applied without any infringements on personal and human rights will be a great step forward for the kingdom and its neighbors. Also the international impacts of this will put USA, UK and EU governments to shame for refusing to declare the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization despite their terrorist activities in the region for decades especially in Egypt.
Finally, several media reports indicate the Saudi and other Gulf countries like United Arab Emirates and Bahrain for Egypt to join in an economic and political pact which may also include according to some observers Jordan, Kuwait and maybe even Morocco. Should this happen it will create a belt Creating this alliance sounds to some a farfetched goal since the traditions and societies vary between these nations but economy and security will be the main aim of such a coalition. This coalition is aimed to countering external threats to the region like Iran and also internal one which is terrorism. Only upcoming weeks and day will reveal the nature of such presumed coalition but the fact remains that the Saudi decision can be easily labeled as historical.