Look who's pro-U.S. now: Saudi Arabia

Discussion in 'West Asia & Africa' started by ejazr, Oct 5, 2010.

  1. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    An interesting article. Although 2008, it shows the change in Saudi society that has taken place. And 2010 will probably only confirm the upward trend in that direction

    Look who's pro-U.S. now: Saudi Arabia - CSMonitor.com

    It's now one of the most pro-US and antiterrorist Muslim countries.
    By Kenneth Ballen / January 8, 2008
    Washington

    President Bush is expected to make his first state visit to Saudi Arabia Jan. 14. Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam and home to its holiest places. It is also the home country of Osama bin Laden and 15 of the 19 Sept. 11 terrorists.

    What Mr. Bush will find in Saudi Arabia would surprise most Americans – indeed, most Muslims around the world, who look to Saudi Arabia as their spiritual home.

    For in this country most sacred to Muslims, Mr. bin Laden's countrymen have dramatically turned against him, Al Qaeda, Saudi fighters in Iraq, and terrorism itself. And they have also equally dramatically turned in favor of bin Laden's chief enemy: the United States. The people of Saudi Arabia are now among the most pro-American and antiterrorist of any in the entire Muslim world.

    These are just some of the startling findings of a rare opinion survey conducted in Saudi Arabia last month by the nonprofit polling group I lead, Terror Free Tomorrow, and by D3 Systems.

    Fewer than 1 in 10 Saudis has a favorable opinion of Al Qaeda, and 88 percent approve the Saudi military and police pursuing Al Qaeda fighters. Only 15 percent of Saudis have a favorable opinion of bin Laden himself. (A Saudi poll late in 2003 showed 49 percent favorable.)

    Even for Saudis with a favorable view of bin Laden and Al Qaeda, addressing the problem of terrorism is one of their most important priorities, as it is to all Saudis, chosen by close to 90 percent. Only unemployment and inflation weighed more heavily on the Saudi public.

    Saudis reject terrorism nearly unanimously. They aren't clamoring for radical rule from bin Laden and Al Qaeda. Indeed, more than two-thirds support stronger, closer relations with the US. Three-quarters of Saudis also said their opinion of America would significantly improve if the US took certain actions, such as increasing visas or signing a free-trade treaty with Saudi Arabia. These are practical, achievable steps that should be on Bush's agenda.

    In fact, compared with the most populous Muslim countries, Saudis are among the most favorable to the US. While only 40 percent currently have a favorable opinion, that's twice or more the percentage of those in Pakistan, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Indonesia. For Saudis, this is a profound turnaround from just a year and a half ago, when, in a limited Terror Free Tomorrow survey, only 11 percent had a favorable opinion of the US. That figure has now more than tripled, while unfavorable ratings have plummeted from 89 percent to just half.

    Two factors help explain this major shift: 1) US policies are perceived to be less hostile, and 2) Saudi King Abdullah has promoted moderation.

    While Saudi citizens have been reported by the American military to make up almost half of the foreign suicide bombers in Iraq, the Saudi public itself is strongly opposed to any Saudis fighting in Iraq. Sixty-three percent of Saudis oppose their fellow citizens fighting against Shiite militias in Iraq. An even higher percentage – 69 – favors Saudi Arabia working with the US to resolve the Iraq conflict.

    On many issues, Saudis fault the current US agenda, and sometimes even that of their own king. Particularly when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict, only a third of Saudis support the king's peace plan and a two-state solution. Roughly half favor all Arabs continuing to fight until there is no state of Israel. This is clearly an area where stronger leadership is needed to shift Saudi public opinion.

    Yet to the question many in the West have repeatedly asked – "Where is the voice of the moderate Muslim majority who stand against Al Qaeda, bin Laden, and terrorism?" – the people of Saudi Arabia have delivered a definitive answer.

    The people of Islam's spiritual home clearly and unequivocally reject Al Qaeda, bin Laden, Iraqi insurgents, and terrorism. They also just as forcefully look forward to the day when the US and Saudi Arabia can have closer and stronger relations.

    This gives Bush a unique opportunity to forge a deeper alliance not just with King Abdullah, but the people of Saudi Arabia themselves – and Muslims everywhere.

    • Kenneth Ballen is president of Terror Free Tomorrow: The Center for Public Opinion. This nationwide survey of Saudi Arabia was conducted in partnership with D3 Systems by telephone in Arabic. It had a margin of error of +/- 3 percen
     
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  3. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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  4. Tshering22

    Tshering22 Sikkimese Saber Senior Member

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    Saudi should then back its talks with pursuing terrorists around it with its own military that is American-trained rather than sit and throw around empty words. Considering the equipment Saudi has, it is not a toothless nation even if it has limited discipline to train along the lines of US Marines or other world elite forces. However, Saudis also technically know most about Al Qaeda terrorists than any other nationality around the world. Hence, they should start walking their talk and spring into action alongside NATO. They have more than sufficient money, they have decent manpower and with oil dollars they have all the fancy gadgets from West at their disposal whenever they want.

    So what's taking them this long to spring into action if indeed they are so anti-terror and pro-America? This is a question we all need to ask since the polls show favourable attitude of Saudi people and Saudi itself has suffered terrorist attacks numerous times by radicals the most famous case being its main mosque under seige from Wahhabi radicals that forced the royal family to called the French GIGN into action.
     
  5. ahmedsid

    ahmedsid Top Gun Senior Member

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    There has been not a single Terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia since 2004 when Al Qaeda Terrorists Attacked Westerners. After that, Saudi Arabia went into a Overdrive, killing Terrorists and once brought in a Tank to Blast a Buillding in which some terrorists were holed up.

    They were Ruthless, and some Human Rights Watch Organisations went onto say that It was Inhumane, because Family Members of Terrorists are Not Given Jobs and their existing Jobs are cut off and no social welfare and all, which was termed as high handed.

    Because of this, they have scarred the minds of potential terrorists and now actually Al Qaeda is nothing but a name for them! Still now, they do catch terrorists and avert plans of attack, but i must say they are successful in tackling Terrorism in their Own Country contrary to what you Say
     
  6. Tshering22

    Tshering22 Sikkimese Saber Senior Member

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    ^^ Well this was revealed by BBC investigation team of French GIGN being called in for the emergency situation in the main mosque siege incident. But what you say is seriously admirable. If Saudis have indeed done what you say, I must say it is a slap on our government's face for failing to eradicate terrorism from our troubled regions.

    When I said Saudis to walk the talk, I meant that they engage in other Arab and Muslim countries around the world since they feel that terrorists are insulting their religion. Being the founding place of Islam, it should lead the war on terror efforts since it has enough funds, manpower and reasons to go all offensive against these jihadis in Waziristan and other Af-Pak regions.

    I find Human Rights agencies these days as nothing short of being the very cause of promoting terrorism with their demonizing tactics against those who take efforts to eradicate terrorism ruthlessly. In our country especially, Human Rights groups should be threatened not to meddle in military affairs or risk being charged with abetting terrorism against Indian nation and being tried and executed. Whatever respect I had for the rights groups earlier is now all gone since they support terrorism so much.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2010
  7. ahmedsid

    ahmedsid Top Gun Senior Member

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    Tshering, the Makkah Seige you are talking of happened like 30 years back or so! It was led by a Lunatic who proclaimed to be the Mahdi! And Yeah, French and Pakistani (Citation Needed) troops went in and cleared the mosque.

    And Yeah, Saudis want their house in order I believe. They are basically of the nature that they care for nothing but themselves. And they are in no position to dictate terms to anyone in the Mid East, even though some think so.
     
  8. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Well if the Pakistanis followed even half the policies of what the Saudis did, particularly about unequivcolly condemning suicide bombings and zero tolerance for non-state militant activities, they would have a sea change in the security environment of their country and neighbours.


    Saudis are pretty modest with their anti-terrorism efforts, but more importantly much more holistic. 2003-2008 saw some of the biggest crackdowns on militants as well as shutting down of financial networks. Most of these were setup in clandistinely in the 80s to fund the war against the Soviets. Just this year alone according to Saudi govt. stats. 200+ attacks were prevented. Saudi Arabia Has Prevented 220 Terrorist Attacks, Saudi Press Agency Says - Bloomberg

    There is now slowly a deep recognition of the role Saudi Arabia has played in tackling the ideology, militants, the financial networks as well as arabic language websites. More importantlly, their "rehab" programs have worked to reintergrate former fighters of the Soviet wars who were brainwashed to fight "Jihad" in Afghanistan. Here is a review of a good book on Saudi role in the fight against terrorism.

    And that is not the end, there are working on ways to institutionalise moderation and doing scientific research on terrorism.

    What is probably the most interesting thing to note is the pre-conditions that the Saudi GID chief put before any negotiations with the Taliban will be supported by them. They were according to some reports:
    (1) Reject Al Qaeda, Bin Laden and their ideology completely
    (2) Recognise the present Afghan government and
    (3) Lay down arms and stop violence during negotiations
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2010
  9. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Although off-topic, from almost all official accounts and even investigative books like Trofimov's on this event, it was only saudi troops that actually did the hand to hand fighting and combat.

    French and Pakistani military attaches were on the scene early on to review the situation (there was NO combat involvement by either French or Pakistanis) and the intial stage of the seige of clearing plazas and open areas of hte mosque was accomplished quickly although at a high cost. The propblem was that many militants were holed up in underground storage areas that were very old and had narrow alleys and excellent for ambushing troops since everyone had to go in single file basically. This was were the saudi troops were stuck at.

    Three GIGN commandos were brought in to provide more help on tactics as well. Their main contribution was bringing along non-lethal gas that was suppose gas the remaining militants unconcious. Trofimov actually talked to one of the GIGN commando and he adamantly refuses that his team went to mecca and was involved in comabt but stayed at its outskirts at Taif. Trofimov reckons that its possible that they might have entered mecca but just to supervise the assault tactics and not taken part themselves.

    The Saudi cleargy and the most important salafi/wahabbi ulemas had already denounced the militant's takeover of the mosque and had "authorised" the takeover by the Saudis as correct, so there was no dearth of saudi soldiers to be martyred in this cause. And by all indications, Saudis did suffer heavy losses.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2010

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