The Saudi spin doctors: On the spread of radicalism and the institutionalization of sectarianism

The Saudi spin doctors: On the spread of radicalism and the institutionalization of sectarianism

Catherine Shakdam
Catherine Shakdam is a political analyst, writer and commentator for the Middle East with a special focus on radical movements and Yemen. Her writings have been published in world-renowned publications such as Foreign Policy Journal, Mintpress News, the Guardian, Your Middle East, Middle East Monitor, Middle East Eye, Open Democracy, Eurasia Review and many more. A regular pundit on RT, she has also contributed her analyses to Etejah TV, IRIB radio, Press TV and NewsMax TV. Director of Programs at the Shafaqna Institute for Middle Eastern Studies and consultant for Anderson Consulting, her research and work on Yemen were used by the UN Security Council in relation to Yemen looted funds in 2015.
People are pictured through a damaged window of a house, near the site of Thursday's car bomb attack in Yemen's capital Sanaa August 14, 2015 © Mohamed al-Sayaghi

In this narrative, Islam and all Muslims within it, once again sit the eternal enemy, the designated scapegoats of Western neo-imperialism – their real crimes are merely to have dared claim monopoly over their resources, political future and sovereignty.

Only this month, Western capitals, Washington in the lead, have painstakingly rationalized both their cooperation with Turkey and their military escalation in Syria, and one might say against Syria, arguing the war on terror and national security strategy.

Interestingly no Western officials made mention of the fact that Ankara, the great ally against terror, has actually been instrumental in the rise of radicalism in the region, as it has allowed for funds, militants and weapons to reach ISIS.

In November 2014, Ben Norton wrote in Counterpunch: “In one of the most contemptible of recent political developments, we now know that the great secular, democratic nation of Turkey is directly aiding ISIS fascists in order to crush the secular, left-wing Kurdish resistance.”

Even more compelling were German Deputy Speaker of the Bundestag and Green Party MP Claudia Roth’s comments to Rudaw in late 2014 when she declared: “Erdogan’s dealings with the ISIS are unacceptable. I could not believe that Turkey harbors an ISIS militant camp in Istanbul.”

But here is where this radical algorithm becomes downright conspiratorial – while bombs are raining from the skies and as imperialists are working hard to redraw borders and play political patronage in the Middle East, the very ideology which allowed for ISIS to be born has been left to metastasize globally.

If few remain under the illusion that ISIS armies simply manifested into existence, all mighty and military hardened, what of the ideology which has sustained its flow of militants? Without the arms to carry it, ISIS as a movement, could never have fuelled its radical war machine. Radicalism was made and spread before it could be raised as a military power.

When ISIS stated it seeks to carve the world into its image, its leaders were quite likely deadly serious, as serious as a virus actually, since their sick and twisted interpretation of Islam can be compared to a disease of the mind, a religious devolution the world would benefit from getting rid of.

Today, ISIS’s ideology has infiltrated the global religious narrative, playing on prejudices and racial bias to draw a wedge in between communities and eventually bring about the reinvention of a faith – Islam, to the image of its fanatic clerics.

From London Wahhabi-inspired clerics calling for Shia mosques to be burnt to the ground, to the Yemen government’s latent religious profiling, Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi radicalism is churning and spitting hatred – actively landscaping Islam into a violent, radical and reactionary religious dogma.

© Paul Hackett

Before this treat everyone is keeping quiet!

For all politicians’ political posing against terror, how many have actually proposed to tackle radicalism at the source by preventing sectarianism to take hold? Why have we not attempted to cut the financial tap, beginning with the millions of dollars the Riyadh Wahhabi establishment has poured into not just the Middle East, but the West, Africa and Asia?

In July 2013, the European Parliament identified Wahhabism as the main source of global terrorism and yet nothing has been done on the ground to stop the terror-making factory. And I am not talking about profiling people or calling on British teachers to spy on their students for signs of radicalization as PM David Cameron suggested – those measures are infringement on civil liberties. What about political and financial sanctions against the fountainhead of terror? What about holding Riyadh responsible for the tens of thousands of death its clerics helped bring about?

How many times will the world say: “Never again”, before putting words into actions?

Western capitals have already proven more than capable of rolling out sanctions against “its enemies”, why the sudden shyness with Saudi Arabia?

At which point does doing nothing translates into guilt and condoning? Or is it that Wahhabi radicalism serves a covert agenda – a means to an end?

Surely the world does not need another Libya, Syria or Iraq to be reminded of the threat ISIS poses to all people: whether Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, or any other religion. Arguably, Muslims have suffered most of all under the blade of ISIS, and this alone proves the irrationality of this movement which claims itself to be of Islam. What ISIS really professes is religious eugenics: a grand cleansing of Islam’s pluralism.

By allowing terror’s ideology to further establish itself as Islam’s main school of thought under the financial impetus of Saudi petrodollars, world leaders are essentially standing by the institutionalization of terror.

If Wahhabism is all that Muslims continue to hear, ISIS will continue to have its terror militants. As long as Saudi Arabia’s fanatic clergy remains immune, the world will continue to bite its own tail, unable to oppose this ever-growing radical tide.

As Dr. John Andrew Morrow, an Islamic scholar and author of ‘The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World’ said, “only by addressing the core root of terror, as expressed by Wahhabism, can we hope to truly free humanity from this religious abomination. Wahhabism is a plague on all religious denominations, most of all Islam, since it has perverted its teachings and massacred its people.”

Why is it that Saudi Arabia has escaped all criticism when it is sitting at the epicenter of terror?

It was Voltaire who said: “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.”

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

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Dr. John Andrew Morrow is a senior scholar specializing in Islamic, Indigenous, and Hispanic Studies.