Saudi Arabia Changes Course

Not gonna get overly heavy today, it is after all both the day after Thanksgiving and Friday. Personally, I spent too much time watching the equivalent of kitten videos far too late last night. But there is this, and it is important, and not much remarked. From Bookworm at Weasel Watchers.

Although I haven’t written about Saudi Arabia, I have been paying a great deal of attention to what’s going on in that kingdom. If Prince Mohammed bin Salman can avoid assassination (and I devoutly hope he can), he is a true reformer. He is trying to upgrade women’s status, he is purging the most corrupt members of the royal family and, most importantly, he is behind the outreach to Israel. There have been rumors that a member of the House of Saud made a secret trip to Israel and, assuming that rumor is true, Prince Salman is the best bet.

More recently, the hard-line Saudi Grand Mufti preached a very surprising sermon the other day. Melanie Phillips caught this story:

According to the Turkish Anadolu news agency, reported here, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Abdul Aziz al Sheikh, has issued a quite remarkable religious ruling. Answering a question on TV about the Palestinian Arab riots over Temple Mount last July, he didn’t merely denounce Hamas as a “terror organisation”.

Much more significantly he actually issued a fatwa, or religious ruling, forbidding war against the Jews; and he said that fighting against Israel was inappropriate.

How can this be anything other than highly significant?

After discussing the Grand Mufti’s conservative stands and enmity towards Israel, Phillips believes something important is happening:

Nevertheless, he is the most senior cleric in the state which has served as the epicentre of Sunni Islamic fanaticism and the most austere and conservative interpretation of a religion which has Jew-hatred at its theological core. If such a man is now saying that war against the Jewish state is not holy at all but must be forbidden on religious grounds, will this not have some impact within the Islamic religious world for which holy war against the Jews is an article of faith?

A friend of Book’s add this…

I will say this for the Sauds. They are an incredibly corrupt clan, but they also enjoy their petro-billions and have no desire to so rock the boat that they have ever willingly joined in the Middle East wars of their era except on the most tangential level. True, it is their Wahhabi religion that has created the world wide mess that is radicalized Islam, but the Sauds funded and fanned that toxin to keep Wahhabism pointed at outward expansion, not at inner Saud corruption. If the Saud clan were not frightened of the Wahhabi scorpions in their midst, one gets the feeling they would all, each and every one of them, much rather be on the Riviera drinking Scotch and banging European hookers.

That’s the thing about the Sauds. They may be (and are) corrupt, very corrupt, in fact. But they are also dependable, all one needs to do is figure out what is best for the House of Saud. That’s why they embraced Wahabbism long ago, and why it is logical for them to embrace Israel, Eqypt, and yes, the United States, now. In a backhanded way, like we used to say of Chicago, they are honestly corrupt. And that is something we can work with, Iran, not so much.

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