Monday, January 23, 2017

Music Video - LAYLA - Shahzaman - HAYAT

German newspaper reaffirms allegations against Maryam Nawaz

With doubts looming over Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz’s involvement in Panama Papers scandal, a German newspaper has reiterated its earlier revelation.

“For those Pakistanis in doubt regarding the role of the PM’s daughter Maryam Safdar in Panama Papers – some of the documents – judge yourself,” Süddeutsche Zeitung, the Germany daily, tweeted on Monday.
The newspaper posted some documents which, proved Maryam’s ownership of offshore companies named in Panama Papers.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) already submitted these documents in the Supreme Court, where a five-judge larger bench is hearing petitions against the Sharif family over allegations of corruption.
The family of Nawaz Sharif was named in the Panama Papers, one of the biggest leaks in history. The leak, comprising 11.5 million documents from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, shows how some of the world’s most powerful people have secreted away their money in offshore jurisdictions.
Among those named are three of Sharif’s four children — Maryam, who has been tipped to be his political successor; Hasan and Hussain, with the records showing they owned London real estate through offshore companies administrated by the firm.
Reacting to the reaffirmation, Imran Khan said, “ICIJ released evidence proving Maryam Nawaz owner of London flats.”
The PTI leader Imran Khan on Monday said that the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has once again released evidence proving Maryam Nawaz is the beneficiary of luxury flats in a posh London neighbourhood.
“Now that more evidence has been released, the Qatari letter and trust deed of London flats hold no value,” the PTI chief said while addressing the media in Islamabad, “Rather than trying to prove my allegations as false, PML-N should question ICIJ and BBC over their recent revelations.”

Pakistan - One public toilet for every one million Lahoris

Faizan Ali Warraich

According to rough estimates Lahore is home to nearly 10 million people. Toilets especially at public places are must and provided in almost every city of the world. It is ironic that as the city braces for mega development projects there is little stress on providing basic facilities to people. The city has only 10 operational public toilets.
According to sources at the City District Government Lahore there are only 10 operational public toilets in the city. The one at Moon Market, Allama Iqbal Town is being reconstructed and would be auctioned on its completion. Other nine public toilets are located at Dispensary Lorri Adda, Fruit Market Ravi Road, Truck Adda No I, Truck Adda No II, Madina Market, Shah Alam, Liberty Market, Services Hospital and Ichra Market.
Public Facilities department of CDGL was tight lipped on the issue. Sources in CDGL told The Nation that for last four years summaries have been moved to the finance department of Punjab government to build 10 more public toilets but no response has been received so far. “This year 30th June is the last date for expiry of the auctioning of the washrooms/bathrooms and after that new auction will be announced. If we get appropriate reply and funds allocated for the establishment of more public toilets the situation would improve overall,” the sources said.
Two decades ago there were 40 public toilets in the city and with each passing year the number has been on the decline. “Policy to build new public toilets has been envisaged but the funds allocation is the biggest hindrance to implement this policy,” sources said.
The condition of these public toilets is deplorable. There are no commode toilets that can be used by senior citizens or by those who have been advised to use them. All public toilets have been built on the old WC toilet style. But both are not kept in clean hygienic conditions.
On the other hands, Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) also have public toilets in the parks and most of them are functional except for a few which are not in good condition. “If water is available to parks’ washrooms then electricity is not available,” Shamir Ahmed, who is regular visitor of Gillani Park (Previously Race Course Park), said. There are some commode toilets there in this park but interestingly none of them have seats where one can sit. Therefore, their usage is out of question.
The department concerned has been waiting for funds since 2010 when survey was conducted to construct new public toilets in Johar Town, Faisal Town and Thokar Niaz Biag areas.
According to Unicef data, 41 million people in Pakistan lack access to adequate toilets that force them to defecate in public areas making it third largest country behind India and Indonesia where people don’t have access to public toilets.
The situation is worse for women who are regular visitor of markets and upon attending call of nature it becomes difficult to find a toilet in city’s markets. According to United Nations study published in 2013 that finding a phone is easier than finding a toilet. Official charges for using the public toilet if from Rs 5 to Rs 10 per person but the reality is that they charge Rs 10 to Rs 30. Due to unsatisfactory condition of the public toilets women rarely used public toilets.
Maryam Hussain, teacher by profession and working as human rights activist said that “PML-N led Punjab Government has been spending billion dollars on the mega projects like Orange Line Metro Train but at the same time citizens of Lahore are deprived of basic facilities like availability of clean water and access to public toilets.”
“There must be a transparency in spending money and proper funds should be allocated for the public toilets in the city of 10 million people. It is tax payers right to have access to basic facilities,” she said.
According to Unicef progress report 2013- 2015 results for children in Pakistan which stated that 10 million fewer people practicing open defecation by 2017 which detrimentally affects children’s lives, making them more susceptible to stunting and exposing them to the risk of diarrhea, polio and other diseases. Unicef is supporting Pakistan Approach to Total Sanitation (PATS).
A survey conducted by The Nation showed that most of the open defecation is being practice in sub-urban areas, markets and in villages on the outskirts of city. The Unicef report showed only 64 percent of Pakistan’s population uses improved sanitation, with wide disparity between urban 83 percent and rural areas 51 percent. The rural versus urban statistics showed that only 21 percent population in Pakistan openly defecated and only 1 percent urban population practices open defecation.



The suspected abductions of five social media personalities have fuelled fears the country’s formidable national security apparatus is expanding its reach, opening a ‘dark new chapter’ for civil society.
The disappearances this month of five Pakistani social media activists have fuelled a rare public examination of the pervasive powers wielded by the country’s national security apparatus and the elected government’s inability to rein them in.
The five men were detained in Islamabad, the capital, and in and around the populous eastern city of Lahore between January 4 and 7, all by plain-clothed men riding pickup trucks.
No shots were fired during the detentions, nor any claims of responsibility made. The only communications were sent to family members from personal devices by abductors posing as abductees. The wife of respected leftist poet and blogger Salman Haider was instructed to collect his car from a highway junction on the outskirts of Islamabad.
A supporter of Awami Worker Party holds a portrait of missing university professor Salman Haider during a demonstration to condemn the missing human rights activists, in Karachi, Pakistan. Photo: AP
Human rights groups were quick to draw a parallel between the disappearances of the activists and those of scores of people who regularly go missing from areas of Pakistan affected by two-decades-old insurgencies by the Taliban in northwest tribal areas bordering Afghanistan and by separatists waging a low-intensity rebellion in the western province of Baluchistan.
Baluchistan is home to the port of Gwadar, the focal point of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a US$51.5 billion investment programme that is part of President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) One Belt, One Road trade initiative to improve China’s connectivity with its neighbours.
By the end of 2014, the number of people missing and feared dead in the country rose to 5,149, according to Defence of Human Rights, a Pakistani non-governmental organisation.
The Twitter hashtag #RecoverSalmanHaider, started by his younger brother to spread the news of his disappearance, quickly trended as emotional activists blamed the national security apparatus for the disappearances of the five men.

Pakistani right-wingers cry ‘blasphemy’ to muzzle liberals

“This is the sensitive state. It is a sign of weakness that if anybody criticises their policies, all their Facebook pages have been shut down and deleted, and these people have been abducted,” said Jibran Nasir, a prominent human rights activist, in a television appearance.
Pakistanis active on social media were drawn to a poem written by Haider and published last July in Tanqeed (criticism), an e-zine he co-edits:
Right now the friends of my friends are being ‘disappeared’
Soon it will be my friends’ turn
And then mine …
When I become the file
That my father will bring to court hearings
Or the picture that my son will kiss when asked by a journalist
Supporters of Awami Worker Party hold a demonstration to condemn the missing human rights activists, in Karachi, Pakistan. Photo: AFP
However, some are perplexed that the five social media activists have been singled out for abduction. “All are known for airing their views, sometimes critical of authority, extremism and intolerance, on social media,” noted the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. But none of them are considered controversial or renowned outside civil society. Haider’s poem on missing people had attracted only 158 likes on Tanqeed ’s Facebook page.
Fearing that the disappearances might herald a wave of detentions under a new cybercrime law enacted last August, activists recanted their unsubstantiated accusations against the military or deleted them from social media accounts. Others deactivated or deleted their social media pages altogether.
Nonetheless, public concern over the suspected role of the security agencies continued to grow as Pakistanis backed activists’ calls, under the Twitter hashtag #RecoverAllActivists, for due legal process to be accorded to the missing activists if, in fact, they had been detained for violating the cybercrime law.
Pressure has built on Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister, to fulfil promises to bring a halt to illegal detentions. Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan has told members of the Senate, the upper house of Pakistan’s parliament, that “this government is not in the business of abducting people and we will not tolerate such disappearances while we are in power”.
However, the government’s inability to provide any information on the missing activists has fed perceptions that it does not want to antagonise the powerful military.

The Pakistani girls used as payments for never-ending debts

“With the disappearance of Salman Haider and … [four] other activists, a dark new chapter in the state’s murky, illegal war against civil society appears to have been opened,” the country’s top English newspaper, Dawn, said in an editorial written in response to the interior minister’s comments. Haider blogs for the newspaper.
“Where once-missing persons belonged to the remote areas of the country … and mostly involved those accused of waging war against the Pakistani state, the tactic has now clearly been broadened to encompass anyone who is deemed an irritant to state policy – or the policies of a state within the state.”
Throughout the controversy, the military’s propaganda arm, the Inter Services Public Relations directorate, has offered no comment. Instead, popular pro-military social media pages have launched a campaign alleging that the missing activists were the administrators of a secular activist Facebook page named Bhensa (buffalo), notorious for mocking the national security apparatus and religious extremists.
On that pretext, Cyber Force for Pakistan, a Facebook page liked by more 400,000 people, has accused the missing activists of being funded by India’s intelligence services. Similarly, Defence Pakistan, a pro-military page with more than 7 million followers, has equated content purportedly written for Bhensa by the missing activists as blasphemous.
In turn, that has prompted a wave of social media posts demanding that they be prosecuted for insulting the Prophet Mohammed, an offence punishable under law by the death sentence. In turn, rights activists have demanded the government prosecute the administrators of Defence Pakistan on charges of incitement to violence. “Attempts are being made to set our country on fire and to divide it,” said Nasir on social media. “For God’s sake, think
about what you are doing, repent, think about the future of this country.” 

Pakistan - Bilawal Bhutto's mass contact

By Akram Shaheedi

PPP’s rally from Lahore to Faisalabad led by Chairman Bilawal Bhutto last week was characteristically a Jialas’s impressive march where traditional energy and enthusiasm was beaming out with full glory giving plausible cause of concern to the political opponents. The Takht-i-Lahore was crumbling with the shock waves of slogans of the fully charged participants. Indeed, the entire route of the rally was presenting the true glimpses of the rallies led by Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto during their times. The PPP workers and leaders were looking amazingly upbeat because their confidence was holding out promising political future. Their resolve to regain its bastion was very reassuring. The party leadership in general and the chairman in particular were visibly delighted to see the response of the people that would surely prove as a harbinger of staging comeback in the province of Punjab sooner than later.
Makdoom Ahmed Mahmood, Raja Pervez Ashraf, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Nadeem Afzal Chan, Senator Aitzaz Ehsan, Mian Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo, Asef Khan, Mushtaq Awan, Abdul Qadir Shaheen, Naveed Chaudhry, Raja Amir were prominent among those who accompanied the chairman in the rally. Former Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani’s absence was conspicuous as he was pre-occupied in Multan to bring the important political personalities of the city to the party.
The PPP workers were continuously chanting slogans in the rally at the top of their voice ‘go Nawaz go’ and ‘down with the Takhat-i-Lahore’-- implying enough was enough and the nation could not tolerate them anymore.
The abject failures of this government in all walks of national life were unforgiving explicitly giving the message that people had run out of their patience and wanted to get rid of them as early as possible because good governance was too serious business that could not be carried out by the traders. Their temptation to thrive on the miseries of the poorest of the poor was pitiably irresistible. They had disappointed the people earlier, and they were bound to inflict the same cycle of miseries on the people this time as well because their appetite to amass wealth had no limits. Panama Papers was just the tip of the iceberg.
The successful march by the PPP also suggested that the new leadership in Punjab, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Nadeem Afzal Chen and Mustafa Khokhar and others had proved their mettle of leadership by infusing the enthusiasm among the workers in such a short span of time who were earlier disoriented and frustrated and largely felt alienated.
They were looking up to the high command for appointing comparatively amenable and well-meaning leadership in the province with the tinge of rebuilding and rebranding from roots to branches. The faces of the incumbent hierarchy of the party at Punjab level quite clearly pointed to the acknowledgment of the paradigm. The new leadership was certainly well poised to revive the party in the province, once a heartland of the party. The party would stage a comeback in the province although it was daunting task in the wake of well-entrenched PML (N) and the new factor of PTI. But, under the leadership of Chairman Bilawal Bhutto, the liberal and democratic forces in the province including the PPP workers would readily come around to push back successfully the retrogressive and status-quo forces.
The typical political pundits, though, had been projecting the dismal prospects of the revival of the PPP because, according to them, a lot of water had flown under the bridge and it was very difficult for the chairman to make inroads in the stronghold of PML-N that had been in the saddle in the province for the last more than two decades. It may be recalled that the political pundits used to make similar forecasts on the political fate of the election campaigns of two Great Bhuttos who amazingly routed the political stalwarts because they communicated directly to the people and convinced them of their genuine leadership engrossed for their empowerment. Similarly, Chairman Bilawal Bhutto’s political strategy to embark on the mass contact movement was the modus operandi to strive for the same results. He was a charismatic young leader who had fallen heir to the legacies of Great Bhuttos. He was determined to uphold the cherished legacies.
One important dimension of the current political struggle of the PPP for the consumption of all and sundry was its total commitment in electoral politics. It had given much needed solace to the people who were not at all inclined to accept any other model than the democratic dispensation. Therefore, PPP’s current mass contact campaign did not arouse the acute anxiety among the people regarding the derailment of democracy mainly because of the impeccable credentials of the PPP for the restoration and strengthening of it. This stark difference between the sit-in, lockdown politics and the PPP people’s politics was going to be a powerful factor that might attract the people in large number in favor of the party. PPP had never come to power without the power of vote whereas the history of other political parties was smeared of entering the corridors of power, at times, through the political crutches of the unauthorized and unqualified quarters. PPP being an anti-establishment party had faced its wrath many times in the past in the form of denying it electoral victory. Supreme Court judgment in Asghar Khan’s case unfolded the conspiracies hatched and executed against PPP.
Salute to the unwavering commitment of the PPP to democracy. It had and would not put the political system in danger in its political struggle for party politics. Former Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani’s assertion in the past comprehensively defined the level of commitment when he said, ‘PPP will not compromise on democracy regardless of the fact as who is the beneficiary’. It would continue its political campaign within the ambit of the democratic ethos while ensuring the longevity of the political system at the same time. For PPP, democracy was non-negotiable that could not be sacrificed at the altar of any other consideration no matter how compelling that might be.
There was no doubt that the dawn of democracy and its continuity in the country today largely owed to the PPP struggle in the face of successive ferocious dictatorships like of general Ziaul Haq and general Musharraf. Even after those tempestuous eras the political system was subject to subtle dangers unleashed through the planted saviors.
Had the PPP joined the forces of ‘sit-in politics or lock down’ during 2013-14 and after, democracy would have been the relic of the past. PPP could not afford of seeing the ugly sight of derailment of democracy because that would have amounted to betrayal to the legacies of its founding father. PPP stemmed the tide of anti-democratic forces with courage and also helped in big way the pro-democratic forces to hold their ground.
At present, the PPP was relatively out of the apprehension of the rocking of the ship of democracy as anti-democratic forces had been cut to size by the sharp rise of pro-democracy environment all around. Therefore, PPP felt no hesitation in deciding to take on the government as a formidable opposition party to expose its anti-people policies. There was no secret the government had been following the policies to benefit the rich at the expense of the poor making rich the richer and the poor destitute. The curse of unemployment had permeated to an appalling proportion among the youth who constituted major chunk of country’s population. They were running from pole to post in search of even menial jobs but to no avail because the job market had shrunk to the limits due to the pro-elite policies of this government.
The country’s exports were on the decline widening the gap of balance of payments. Farmers’ community was up in arms against the government because agriculture of the country was presenting the dismal picture on which the livelihood of two thirds majority of the people depended. The agony of load shedding of gas and electricity was persisting contrary to their tall electoral promises to control it within six months. The government had completed more than three and half years but the mitigating of the miseries of the people remained a forlorn hope.
The government’s macroeconomic policies had also pushed the economy of the country into debt trap and the touting of the finance minister of making turn around in the economy sounds hoax. The mountain of debts was in total contravention of the fiscal responsibility and Debt Limitation Act. He was on the path of mortgaging the future of the future generations. They must be stopped by resisting their policies in all their forms and manifestations because inaction and inattention now would bring unmitigated disaster for the people and the economy. The chairman had decided to expose the government and its policies to the bones. PPP would not allow the government to inflict the devastation. It would rather illuminate the path to be followed by the nation leading to the destination reflective of their aspirations.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Video - Opera - Luciano Pavarotti - Carusso (the most powerful )


Music Video - TURKISH SONG - (Ebru Gündeş)

Music Video - Cyrine Abdul Noor Law Bass Fe Eanaia - سرين عبد النور - لو بص فى عينى

Video - Arabic Music By Aamir Kangda - Арабская красивая музыка и танцы


Philip Alston, an Australian legal expert who reports to the UN Human Rights Council, said after a 12-day visit to Saudi Arabia that the government in Riyadh was urgently required to cast aside rules and regulations that have hampered social life in the kingdom.
"So, I feel very strongly that the kingdom should move to enable women to drive cars," Alston said on Thursday.
The expert also called on Riyadh to make efforts to change the country’s guardianship system, which effectively hinders women's ability to work and travel. Alston said some features of the system, requiring that women obtain the consent of a male member of their family to study, travel and other activities, “need to be reformed.”
"My concern is that the government is in fact deferring to a relatively small portion of conservative voices," Alston told a news conference, adding, “The role of the government is to work out how it can change the policy and how it can change attitudes.”
The UN expert also lamented that people in some parts of Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil producer, are living in extreme poverty without the kingdom having any concrete plan to help them.
Alston said most of the people living in the southern Jizan region were in “extraordinarily poor conditions,” adding that the situation in the country’s east, where a Shia minority group lives, was quite the same.
“There needs to be a plan to more systematically address their situation,” said the UN expert, regretting the fact that Riyadh had failed to admit that poverty existed in the country and officials were still in the habit of hiding information on the issue.

Saudi-led coalition air strikes 'hit Yemen school'


A school just outside the Yemeni capital of Sana’a has been hit by a Saudi-led coalition air strike, the rebel news agency has said.
Saba, the news service run by the dominant Houthi movement since it seized control of Sana’a in 2015 said that four missiles had hit the Guards School building north of the capital.
The strike took place on Sunday, which is a working day in most of the Muslim world. No casualties have yet been reported.
At least two civilians have died in the last 24 hours thanks to more than 45 strikes across the country, Saba said, citing Houthi officials. Agence France-Presse reported that 70 people had been killed in fresh fighting, according to medics.
The raids and deaths have not yet been fully verified by monitors.
More than 10,000 people have died since the conflict in Yemen descended into full-scale civil war almost two years ago, the UN says. The fighting has also exacerbated hunger and disease in the Middle East’s poorest country. A Saudi-led coalition has intervened on behalf of Yemen’s exiled government since March 2015 against the Iran-allied Houthi movement in what Riyadh says is aimed at curbing creeping Iranian influence in the region.
The campaign has been widely criticised for hitting civilian infrastructure, including the bombing of a Sana’a funeral that killed 140 people in October last year.
Several Western governments – including the UK – have also been rebuked for selling arms to Saudi Arabia, which rights groups say are destined for use in the conflict.
All previous attempts to broke a peace deal between the Yemeni government and rebels have so far failed.
Elsewhere in the country, two suspected members of al-Qaeda’s Yemen branch were killed in what local officials said was a US drone strike over the weekend.
If confirmed, the strike is the first such attack to have taken place since US President Donald Trump took office on Friday.
The Trump administration has not yet laid out a clear policy on drone strikes.

Making billions from Saudi Arabia's war crimes

Ignoring its own export rules, the government has prioritised arms company profits over Yemeni human rights, writes ANDREW SMITH

IN two weeks’ time, the High Court in London will consider a case that could set a vital precedent and be instrumental in changing British arms export policy.
On February 7-9, following an application by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), judges will be examining the legality of arms exports to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen.
For almost two years now, Saudi forces have inflicted a brutal and devastating bombing campaign on the people of Yemen. Schools, hospitals and homes have been destroyed in a bombardment that has killed 10,000 people and inflicted a humanitarian catastrophe on one of the poorest countries in the region.
The appalling consequences have been condemned by the United Nations, the European Parliament and major aid agencies on the ground, with the Red Cross warning that the country has been left on the edge of famine.
A harrowing report from Unicef has found that one child is dying every 10 minutes because of malnutrition, diarrhoea and respiratory-tract infections in Yemen, with 400,000 at risk of starvation.
Right at the outset of the bombing, the then foreign secretary Philip Hammond pledged to “support the Saudis in every practical way short of engaging in combat.” Unfortunately the British government has stayed true to his word. One major way in which it has done this is through the sale of arms.
Despite the destruction, and despite its appalling human rights record at home, Saudi Arabia is by far the largest buyer of British arms.
The arms sales haven’t slowed down; in fact Britain has licensed over £3.3 billion worth of arms since the bombing began. These include Typhoon fighter jets, which have been used in the bombardment and missiles and bombs that reports by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have linked to attacks on civilian targets.
Last month, Saudi forces even admitted to using British-made cluster bombs, one of the cruellest and most deadly weapons that can be used in warfare. When bombs are dropped they open up in mid-air to release hundreds of sub-munitions. Their impact is indiscriminate. Anybody within striking area is very likely to be killed or seriously injured.
The bombs were exported in 1988, but the lifespan of weapons is very often longer than that of the political situation they are bought in. How will the billions of pounds’ worth of weapons being sold now be used and who will they be used against? If Saudi forces are using them, then they clearly aren’t doing all they can to minimise civilian casualties. It tells you everything you need to know about the character of the bombardment.
If cluster bombs are not considered beyond the pale by the Saudi military, then what is the likelihood that its personnel are doing everything in their power to avoid civilian casualties? It’s not just the bombs that are deadly, it is the mindset which allows their use in the first place.
British arms export law is very clear. It says that licences for military equipment should not be granted if there is a “clear risk” that it “might” be used in a serious violation of international humanitarian law. By any reasonable interpretation, these criteria should definitely prohibit all arms sales to Saudi Arabia that could be used in Yemen.
Of course the relationship is nothing new and the problem is institutional rather than party-political. For decades now successive British governments of all political colours have armed and uncritically supported the Saudi regime.
In 2006 we saw Tony Blair intervening to stop a corruption investigation into arms deals between Saudi Arabia and BAE Systems. This was quickly followed by another multibillion-pound fighter jet sale. In 2013 and 2014 we saw David Cameron and even Prince Charles making visits to the Kingdom where they posed for fawning photographs and pushed arms sales.
One outcome of this cosy partnership has been a high level of integration between British and Saudi military programmes. There are around 240 Ministry of Defence civil servants and military personnel working to support the contracts through the Ministry of Defence Saudi Armed Forces Programme and the Saudi Arabia National Guard Communications Project.
The political consensus seems to be shifting though, with the Labour, SNP and Liberal Democrat front benches — and many Tory backbenchers — all calling for arms sales to be suspended while an independent investigation into their legality takes place. This is definitely a welcome change, and has gone a long way in shifting the terms of the debate.
But, even if it is taken up, it can not be enough unless it is complemented by an end to future arms sales and a meaningful change in foreign policy.
Regardless of the outcome in court next month, we have already exposed how weak and broken British arms export controls are. A brutal dictatorship has created a humanitarian catastrophe, killed thousands of civilians and flouted international law and yet Britain has continued arming and supporting it.
Instead of following its own rules on arms sales, the government has prioritised arms company profits over human rights.
If that’s not enough to stop arms sales then what more would it take?

  • Andrew Smith is a spokesman for Campaign Against Arms Trade. You can follow CAAT at @CAATuk.


By Raymond Ibrahim
Would you like to know how the United States can virtually eliminate global Islamic terrorism and world hunger with one stroke?
Seize the oil wells of Saudi Arabia.
If this sounds preposterous and unethical – “the U.S. doesn’t go on the offensive, and it certainly doesn’t ‘steal’ other peoples’ natural resources, especially its allies!” – consider some facts:
First, anyone who sees the Islamic State (ISIS) as a cancer on earth that needs to be eradicated – and most Americans, including President Donald Trump, do – must also see Saudi Arabia in similar terms. For the desert kingdom enforces the same kind of Islam ISIS does – with all the religious intolerance, beheadings, crucifixions, mutilations and misogyny we associate with the terrorists.
Worse, Saudi Arabia spends a whopping $100 billion annually – trillions over the decades – to support and disseminate the most vile form of Islam (Wahhabism/Salafism) around the world. Virtually all radical literature, radical mosques, radical websites and radical satellite programs – all of which create radical Muslims – are funded by the Saudis. In other words, if you trace the “radicalization” of Muslims – including formerly good neighbors and colleagues that suddenly got pious, grew a beard or donned a veil, and then went on a shooting spree, or “martyred” themselves in a suicide attack – Saudi money will almost always be at the end of the line.
It gets worse still: The Islamic kingdom is not only the chief exporter of radical ideologies; it is also the chief financier and material supporter of the worst terrorist groups. ISIS and al-Qaida would not exist without Saudi and other Gulf largesse.
So how is Saudi Arabia able to fuel this multifaceted and global jihad? Entirely from the oil reserves beneath the Arabian Peninsula.
Now, in a fair world, surely the Saudis should keep the natural resources of Arabia – even if it was the West that discovered and created the technology to utilize oil. But when they openly use that wealth to spread hate, turmoil, terrorism and the slaughter of innocents around the world, surely the international community is justified in responding – in this case, by seizing the weapon from out their hands, that is, the oil wells. Some may argue that, whatever the merits of this argument, there’s no way U.S. leadership could sell such a war to the American people. Actually, they could – very easily; and all they would have to do is tell the American people the truth for a change.
Remember, the establishment has already behaved more “spectacularly,” including by going on the offensive against several Arab rulers – in Iraq, Libya and now Syria. In every case, the real motives for war were/are hidden from the public, probably because they didn’t and don’t serve American interests (hence why ISIS is now entrenched in “liberated” Iraq, “liberated” Libya and still being “liberated” Syria). All U.S. leadership and media had to do was portray Saddam, Gadhafi and Assad as “monsters” persecuting their own people. That was enough for most Americans to acquiesce to the waging of these wars if not heartily support them.
In the case of Saudi Arabia, the establishment wouldn’t have to deceive the public: The Saudi regime is a monster. As in ISIS-held territories, women in Saudi Arabia are little better than chattel; blasphemers, apostates and homosexuals are persecuted and sometimes executed; all non-Sunnis – from Hindus to Shia – are subhuman infidels to be treated accordingly; house churches are closed, Bibles and crucifixes confiscated and destroyed, and Christians caught worshiping in private thrown in jail and tortured. Saudi Arabia is arguably even more backward than ISIS: Women can still drive in Mosul and Raqqa, whereas they are forbidden in Saudi Arabia; and the Saudi government has its own special department devoted to tracking down and executing witches and warlocks.
Nor is Saudi savagery confined to the Peninsula. The regime once issued a fatwa, or Islamic-sanctioned decree, still available online for all to see, calling on the world’s Muslims to hate all non-Muslims (meaning more than 99 percent of Americans; such is how “our good friend and ally” really feels about us).
In short, from a libertarian or humanitarian point of view – and that’s the point of view that was used to justify war in Iraq, Libya and Syria to the public – the tyranny of Saddam, Gaddafi and Assad pale in comparison to that of Saudi leadership.
In this context, what is to stop, say, the U.N. Security Council – America, France, Britain, Russia and China, all nations that have suffered from Saudi-funded radicalization and terrorism – from sending a military coalition to seize and internationalize the oil wells of Arabia? How would that be any different than seizing the assets of a terrorist organization, which the Saudi regime amounts to?
The oil can be shared equally, fair international prices can be established, and, to assuage any Western guilt, revenues – including the 100 billion spent annually sponsoring Islamic radicalism and terror – can go to the poor and needy of the world, including if not especially the Muslim world. Peninsular Arabs can still be maintained by a rich stipend; they can keep Mecca and Medina and, if they still choose, practice Shariah on one another without being a threat to the civilized world at large. A win-win for all concerned – the developed world, the underdeveloped world and even Peninsular Arabs content with practicing Islam among themselves. Even the world’s Muslims, whom we are told are overwhelmingly moderate, should welcome the liberation of their holy places.
The only ones who lose are those committed to using oil wealth to spread radical Islamic ideologies and terrorism around the world.
If this proposal still sounds too “unrealistic,” remember: We already have precedents of the U.S. behaving more spectacularly. In 2003 the Bush administration accused Saddam Hussein of being behind 9/11, of developing weapons of mass destruction and of committing unprecedented human rights abuses. Because these accusations were false or exaggerated – even the human rights violations were often carried out against ISIS-types – most Security Council nations rejected war on Iraq. Even so, the U.S. invaded and conquered Iraq; and the average American was fine with it all.
So what’s to stop the U.S. from either going it alone again or in cooperation with all or some Security Council members – perhaps a joint Trump/Putin endeavor – and severing the bloodline of global terrorism? It’s not realpolitik, “balance of power” theories, or ethical standards that prevent the U.S. from defanging the head of the jihadi snake. If the U.S. could go against international opinion and invade Iraq on a number of false/dubious pretexts, why can’t it do the same in Saudi Arabia – a nation that is guilty of supporting and disseminating radicalism and terrorism to ever corner of the globe? Incidentally, unlike Saddam, Saudi leadership – to say nothing of 15 of the 19 terrorists of 9/11 – was actually behind the strikes of September 11, in case Americans are still interested in payback.
So why hasn’t this proposal been implemented? Because the Saudis know better than anyone else exactly how vulnerable their terrorist activities make them and long ago bought off top and influential Western politicians, institutions, universities and media – in a word, the establishment. Put differently, Saudi wealth is not just spent on the offensive jihad – the spread of radical ideas and groups around the world – but the defensive jihad as well. This consists of “donating” billions to key Western elements, who in turn whitewash Saudi Arabia before the American public – you know, our “indispensable ally in the war on terror.”
The establishment has another, more subtle job: to condition Americans into believing that the very idea of seizing Saudi oil is as unrealistic and absurd as … well, as Donald Trump becoming president was once.
But times are changing, and old paradigms are breaking; things once mockingly dismissed by the establishment as “impossible” and “ridiculous” are coming to pass. More to the point, there’s a new American government in town, headed by one whose immense wealth immunes him to Saudi bribes – one who promises to drain the swamp. Surely one of the foulest things that will be found stuck around the drain hole and in need of rooting out is the unholy alliance between Saudi Arabia and the establishment.
Raymond Ibrahim, a scholar of Islamic history and doctrine, is the author of “Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians” and “The Al Qaeda Reader.” He is currently writing a military history documenting the centuries-long clash between Islam and the West.

Creating Frankenstein: Saudi Arabia’s Ultra-Conservative Footprint in Africa

James M. Dorsey

There is much debate about what spurs political violence. The explanations are multi-fold. There is one aspect that I’d like to discuss tonight as it relates to Africa and that is the role of Saudi Arabia. Let me be clear: With the exception of a handful of countries, none of which are in Africa, Saudi Arabia, that is to say the government, the religious establishment and members of the ruling family and business community, does not fund violence.
It has however over the last half century launched the single largest public diplomacy campaign in history, pumping up to $100 billion dollars into ultra-conservative interpretations of Islam. That campaign has succeeded in making ultra-conservatism a force in Muslim religious communities across the globe. It involves the promotion of an intolerant, supremacist, anti-pluralistic interpretation of Islam that even where it rejects involvement in politics creates an environment that in given circumstances serves as a breeding ground, but more often fosters a mindset in which militancy and violence against the other is not beyond the pale.
What that campaign has done, certainly in Muslim majority countries in Africa, is to ensure that representatives of Saudi-backed ultra-conservatism have influence in society as well as the highest circles of government. This is important because contrary to widespread beliefs, the Saudi campaign is not primarily about religion, it’s about geopolitics, it’s about a struggle with Iran for hegemony in the Muslim world. As a result, it’s about anti-Shiism and a ultra-conservative narrative that counters that of Shiism and what remains of Iran’s post-1979 revolutionary zeal.
The campaign also meant that at times resolving the question whether the kingdom maintains links to violent groups takes one into murky territory. Again, I want to be clear, certainly with the rise of the Islamic State (IS) and its affiliates in Africa and elsewhere, and even before with the emergence of Al Qaeda, Saudi Arabia has made countering jihadism a cornerstone of its policy. That is however easier said than done.
What is evident in Africa is that the kingdom or at least prominent members of its clergy appear to have maintained wittingly or unwittingly some degree of contact with jihadist groups, including IS affiliates. What I want to do in the time I have is anecdotally illustrate the impact of Saudi-backed ultra-conservatism on three African states – Nigeria, Niger and Mali – and how this at times relates to political violence in the region.
Let’s start with Nigeria. One of the earliest instances in which Saudi Arabia flexed its expanding soft power in West Africa was in 1999 when Zamfara, a region where Islamic State affiliate Boko Haram has been active, became the first Nigerian state to adopt Sharia. A Saudi official stood next to Governor Ahmed Sani when he made the announcement. Freedom of religion scholar Paul Marshall recalls seeing some years later hundreds of Saudi-funded motorbikes in the courtyard of the governor’s residence. They had been purchased to enforce gender segregation in public transport. Sheikh Abdul-Aziz, the religious and cultural attaché at the Saudi embassy in Abuja declared in 2004 that the kingdom had been monitoring the application of Islamic law in Nigeria “with delight.”
Like elsewhere in the Muslim world, local politicians in Zamfara were forging an opportunistic alliance with Saudi Arabia. If geopolitics was the Saudi driver, domestic politics was what motivated at least some of their local partners. Nonetheless, the lines between militant but peaceful politics and violence were often blurry. Political violence analyst Jacob Zenn asserts that Boko Haram even has some kind of representation in the kingdom. A Boko Haram founder who was killed in 2009, Muhammad Yusuf, was granted refuge by the kingdom in 2004 to evade a Nigerian military crackdown. In Mecca, he forged links with like-minded Salafi clerics that proved to be more decisive than his debates with Nigerian clerics who were critical of his interpretation of Islam.
Once back in Maiduguri, the capital of Nigeria’s Borno state, Yusuf built with their assistance a state within a state centred around the Ibn Taymiyyah mosque and a compound in the city centre on land bought with the help of his father-in-law. Yusuf’s group had its own institutions, including a Shura or advisory council, a religious police force that enforced Islamic law, and a rudimentary welfare, microfinance and job creation system.
It operated under a deal struck in talks in Mecca brokered by a prominent Salafi cleric between a dissident Boko Haram factional leader identified as Aby Muhammed and a close aide to former Nigerian President Jonathan Goodwill. Under the agreement Yusuf pledged not to preach violence and to distance himself from separatist groups, an understanding he later violated. Boko Haram has further suggested that before joining IS, it had met with Al Qaeda operatives in Saudi Arabia. Moreover, a Boko Haram operative responsible for attacking a church in Nigeria reportedly spent months in Saudi Arabia prior to the attack.
Yusuf’s religious teacher, Sheikh Ja’afar Adam, a graduate of the Islamic University of Medina, presided over a popular mosque in the Nigerian city of Kano that helped him build a mass audience. Adam’s popularity allowed him to promote colleagues, many of whom were also graduates of the same university in Medina, who became influential preachers and government officials. Adam was liberally funded by Al-Muntada al-Islami Trust, a London-based charity with ties to Saudi Arabia that has repeatedly been accused by Nigerian intelligence a British peer, Lord Alton of Liverpool, of having links to Boko Haram and serving as a platform for militant Islamic scholars. Al Muntada, which operates a mosque and a primary school in London, has denied the allegations while a UK Charity Commission investigation failed to substantiate the allegations. Kenyan and Somali intelligence nonetheless suspected Al-Muntada of also funding Al Qaeda’s Somali affiliate, Al Shabab.
Among scholars hosted by Al Muntada are Mohammad Al Arifi, a Saudi preacher who argues that “the desire to shed blood, to smash skulls and to sever limbs for the sake of Allah and in defense of His religion, is, undoubtedly, an honour for the believer.” He also reasons that the Muslim world would not have suffered humiliation had it followed “the Quranic verses that deal with fighting the infidels and conquering their countries say that they should convert to Islam, pay the jizya poll tax, or be killed.”
Abd al-Aziz Fawzan al-Fawzan, a Saudi academic, is another Al Muntada favourite. Al-Fawzan advises the faithful that “if (a) person is an infidel, even if this person is my mother or father, God forbid, or my son or daughter; I must hate him, his heresy, and his defiance of Allah and His prophet. I must hate his abominable deeds.” Organizationally, the charity also maintained close ties to major Saudi funding organizations, including the Muslim World League (MWL), the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), and Al Haramain Islamic Foundation, a Saudi governmental non-nongovernmental organization that was shut down in the wake of 9/11 because of its jihadist ties.
Adam publicly condemned Yusuf after he took over Boko Haram. In response Yusuf in 2007 order the assassination of Adam, a protégé of the Saudi-funded Izala Society (formally known as the Society for the Removal of Innovation and Re-establishment of the Sunnah), which sprang up in northern Nigeria in the late 1970s to campaign against Sufi practices and has since gained ground in several West African states. Much like Saudi Arabia and Wahhabism’s relationship to jihadism, Izala after spawning Boko Haram became one of its main targets. The group has since the killing of Adam gunned down several other prominent Saudi-backed clerics.
Nigerian journalists and activists see a direct link between the influx of Saudi funds into Yusuf’s stomping ground in northern Nigeria and greater intolerance that rolled back the influence of Sufis that had dominated the region for centuries and sought to marginalize Shiites. “They built their own mosques with Saudi funds so that they will not follow ‘Kafirs’ in prayers& they erected their own madrasa schools where they indoctrinate people on the deviant teachings of Wahhabism. With Saudi petro-dollars, these Wahhabis quickly spread across towns & villages of Northern Nigeria…This resulted in countless senseless inter-religious conflicts that resulted in the death of thousands of innocent Nigerians on both sides.” said Shiite activist Hairun Elbinawi.
Adam started his career as a young preacher in Izala, a Salafist movement founded in the late 1970s by prominent judge and charismatic orator Abubakr Gumi who was the prime facilitator of Saudi influence and the rise of Salafism in northern Nigeria. A close associate, Gumi represented northern Nigeria at gatherings of the Muslim World League starting in the 1960s, was a member of the consultative council of the Islamic University of Medina in the 1970s and was awarded for his efforts with the King Faisal Prize in 1987. All along, Gumi and Izala benefitted from generous Saudi financial support for its anti-Sufi and anti-Shiite campaigns.
Adam and Gumi’s close ties to the kingdom did not mean that they uncritically adopted Saudi views. Their ultra-conservative views did not prevent them from at times adopting positions that took local circumstances in northern Nigeria into account at the expense of ultra-conservative rigidity. Adam’s questioning of the legitimacy of democracy, for example, did not stop him becoming for a period of time a government official in the state of Kano. In another example, Gumi at one point urged Muslim women to vote because “politics is more important than prayer,” a position that at the time would have been anathema to Saudi-backed ultra-conservative scholars. Similarly, Adam suggested that Salafists and Kano’s two major Sufi orders, viewed by Saudi puritans as heretics, should have equal shares of an annual, public Ramadan service.
Peregrino Brimah, a trained medical doctor who teaches biology, anatomy and physiology at colleges in New York never gave much thought while growing up in Nigeria to the fact that clerics increasingly were developing links to Saudi Arabia. “You could see the money, the big ones were leading the good life, they ran scholarship programs. In fact, I was offered a scholarship to study at King Fahd University in Riyadh. I never thought about it until December 2015 when up to a 1,000 Shiites were killed by the military in northern Nigeria,” Brimah said. “Since I started looking at it, I’ve realized how successful, how extraordinarily successful the Wahhabis have been.”
Brimah decided to stand up for Shiite rights after the incident in which the military arrested prominent Shiite cleric Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky following a clash with members of Shiites in Kaduna state. The Nigerian military confirmed that it had attacked sites in the ancient university town Zaria after hundreds of Shia demonstrators had blocked a convoy of Nigeria’s army chief General Tukur Buratai in an alleged effort to kill him. Military police said Shiites had crawled through tall grass towards Buratai’s vehicle “with the intent to attack the vehicle with [a] petrol bomb” while others “suddenly resorted to firing gunshots from the direction of the mosque.” Scores were killed in the incident. A phone call to Nigerian President Mohammed Buhari in which King Salman expressed his support for the government’s fight against terrorist groups was widely seen as Saudi endorsement of the military’s crackdown on the country’s Shiite minority. The state-owned Saudi Press Agency quoted Salman as saying that Islam condemned such “criminal acts” and that the kingdom in a reference to Iran opposed foreign interference in Nigeria.
Brimah’s defense of the Shiites has cost him dearly and further illustrated the degree to which Saudi-funded Wahhabism and Salafism had altered the nature of Nigerian society. “I lost everything I had built on social media the minute I stood up for the Shiites. I had thousands of fans. Suddenly, I was losing 2-300 followers a day. My brother hasn’t spoken to me since. The last thing he said to me is: ‘how can you adopt Shiite ideology?’ I raised the issue in a Sunni chat forum. It became quickly clear that these attitudes were not accidental. They are the product of Saudi-sponsored teachings of serious hatred. People don’t understand what they are being taught. They rejoice when thousand Shiites are killed. Even worse is the fact that they hate people like me who stand up for the Shiites even more than they hate the Shiite themselves.”
In response to Brimah’s writing about the clash, Buratai, the Nigerian army chief, invited him to for a chat. Brimah politely declined. After again, accusing the military of having massacred Shiites, Buratai’s spokesman, Col. SK Usman, adopting the Saudi line of Shiites being Iranian stooges, accused Brimah of being on the Islamic republic’s payroll. “Several of us hold you in high esteem based on perceived honesty, intellectual prowess and ability to speak your mind. That was before, but the recent incident of attempted assassination of the Chief of Army Staff by the Islamic Movement of Nigeria and subsequent events and actions by some groups and individuals such as you made one to have a rethink. I was quite aware of your concerted effort to smear the good name and reputation of the Chief of Army Staff to the extent of calling for his resignation.
He went out of his way to write to you and even invited you for constructive engagement. But because you have dubious intents, you cleverly refused…God indeed is very merciful for exposing you. Let me make it abundantly clear to you that your acts are not directed to the person of the Chief of Army Staff, they have far reaching implication on our national security. Please think about it and mend your ways and refund whatever funds you coveted for the campaign of calumny,” Usman wrote in the mail. Brimah’s inbox has since then been inundated with anti-Shiite, anti-Iranian writings in what he believes is a military-inspired campaign.
Brimah was not the only one to voice opposition to Saudi-backed ultra-conservatism. Murtada Muhammad Gusau, Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’at Mosque and Alhaji Abdurrahman Okene’ s Mosque in Nigeria’s Okene Kogi State took exception to the kingdom’s global effort to criminalize blasphemy, legitimize in the process curbs on free speech, and reinforce growing Muslim intolerance towards any unfettered discussion of the faith. In a lengthy article in a Nigerian newspaper, Gusau debunked the Saudi-inspired crackdown on alleged blasphemists citing multiple verses from the Qur’an that advocate patience and tolerance and reject the killing of those that curse or berate the Prophet Mohammed.
Brimah and Gusau were among the relatively few willing to invoke the wrath of spreading ultra-conservative, sectarian forms of Islam across a swath of Africa at an often dizzying pace. In the process, African politicians and ultraconservatives in cooperation with Saudi Arabia have let a genie of intolerance, discrimination, supremacy and bigotry out of the bottle. In the Sahel state of Niger, Issoufou Yahaya recalls his student days in the 1980s when there wasn’t a single mosque on his campus. “Today, we have more mosques here than we have lecture rooms. So much has changed in such a short time,” he said.
One cannot avoid noticing Saudi Arabia’s role in this development. The flags of Niger and Saudi Arabia feature on a monument close to the office tower from which Yahaya administers the history of department of Université Abdou Moumouni in the Niger capital of Niamey. Sheikh Boureima Abdou Daouda, an Internet-savvy graduate of the Islamic University of Medina and the Niamey university’s medical faculty as well as an author and translator of numerous books, attracts tens of thousands of worshippers to the Grand Mosque where he insists that “We must adopt Islam, we cannot adapt it.” Daouda serves as an advisor to Niger president Mahamadou Issoufou and chairs the League of Islamic Scholars and Preachers of the Countries of the Sahel. “Before, people here turned to religion when they reached middle age, and particularly after they retired. But now, it is above all the young ones. What we see is a flourishing of Islam.” Daouda said.
What Daouda did not mention was that with Africa, the battleground where Iran put up its toughest cultural and religious resistance to Saudi-backed ultra-conservatism, was witnessing the world’s highest rates of conversion to Shi’a Islam since many Sunni tribes in southern Iraq adopted Shiism in the 19th century. Shiites were until recently virtually non-existent in Africa with the exception of migrants from Lebanon and the Indian subcontinent. A Pew Research survey suggests that that has changed dramatically. The number of Shiites has jumped from 0 in 1980 to 12 percent of Nigeria’s 90-million strong Shia community in 2012. Shiites account today for 21 percent of Chad’s Muslims, 20 percent in Tanzania and eight percent in Gaza, according to the survey.
Ironically, Mali a nation where Shiism has not made inroads and where only two percent of the populations identifies itself as Ahmadis, an Islamic sect widely viewed by conservative Muslims as heretics, is the only country outside of Pakistan that Aalmi Majlis Tahaffuz Khatm-e-Nubuwwat (AMTKN), a militant anti-Ahmadi, Pakistan-based group with a history of Saudi backing, identifies by name as a place where it operates overseas. The fact that AMTKN, which says that it operates in 12 countries, identified Mali is indicative of the sway of often Saud-educated imams and religious leaders that reaches from the presidential palace in the capital Bamako into the country’s poorest villages. The government at times relies on Salafis rather than its own officials to mediate with jihadists in the north or enlist badly needed European support in the struggle against them. Moreover, cash-rich Salafi leaders and organizations provide social services in parts of Mali where the government is absent. In 2009, the Saudi-backed High Islamic Council of Mali (HICM) proved powerful enough to prevent the president from signing into law a parliamentary bill that would have enhanced women’s rights. Malian president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita reportedly phones HICM chief Mahmoud Dicko twice a week. Malians no longer simply identify each other as Muslims and instead employ terms such as Wahhabi, Sufi and Shia that carry with them either derogatory meanings or assertions of foreign associations.
Dicko condemned the November 2015 jihadist attack on the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako in which 20 people were killed but argued that world powers cannot enjoy peace by fighting God through promotion of homosexuality. Dicko said the perpetrators were not Muslims but mostly rappers with drug-related charge sheets. “They rebel and take arms against their society. This is a message from God that the masters of the world, the major powers, which are trying to promote homosexuality, must understand. These powers are trying to force the world to move towards homosexuality. These world powers have attacked the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) into his grave…These masters of this world, who think that the world belongs to them, must understand that we will not attack God and escape safely. They cannot provoke God and get his clemency, his mercy. They cannot have peace and peace with such provocations towards the Creator of the world down here. They will not have peace. God will not leave them alone.”
Like elsewhere, ultra-conservatism as a cornerstone of Saudi soft power has proven in Mali to be a double-edged sword for the kingdom and its beneficiaries. Iyad Ag Ghaly nicknamed The Strategist, a Malian Tuareg militant who led tribal protests in the 1990s and emerged in 2012 at the head of Ansar Eddine, one of the jihadist groups that overran the north of Mali, found ultra-conservative religion while serving as a Malian diplomat in Jeddah. A Sufi and a singer who occasionally worked with Tinariwen, the Grammy Award winning band formed by veterans of Tuareg armed resistance in the 1980s and 1990s, co-organized an internationally acclaimed annual music festival outside of Timbuktu that attracted the likes of Robert Plant, Bono and Jimmy Buffett, and hedonistically enjoyed parties, booze and tobacco, Ag Ghaly grew a beard while in Saudi Arabia. His meetings with Saudi-based jihadists persuaded the Malian government to cut short his stint in the kingdom and call him home. Pakistani missionaries of Tablighi Ja’amat, an ultra-conservative global movement that has at times enjoyed Saudi backing despite theological differences with Wahhabism and Salafism, helped convince Ag Ghaly to abandon his music and hedonistic lifestyle. He opted for an austere interpretation of Islam and ultimately jihadism.
This pattern is not uniquely African even if Africa is the continent where Iranian responses to Saudi promotion of Sunni ultra-conservatism have primarily been cultural and religious in nature rather than through the use of militant and armed proxies as in the Middle East. It is nonetheless a battle that fundamentally alters the fabric of those African societies in which it is fought; a battle that potentially threatens the carefully constructed post-colonial cohesion of those societies. The potential threat is significantly enhanced by poor governance and the rise of jihadist groups like Boko Haram, Al Qaeda in the Maghreb and Al Shabab in Somalia, whose ideological roots can be traced back to ultra-conservatism but whose political philosophy views Saudi Arabia as an equally legitimate target because its rulers have deviated from the true path. At the bottom line, both Africans and Saudis are struggling to come to grips with a phenomenon they opportunistically harnessed to further their political interests; one that they no longer control and that has become as much a liability as it was an asset.
Thank you.
This article is adapted from a lecture originally delivered at the Terrorism in Africa seminar, Singapore.