By Dr. Kevin Barrett
On Friday, the government of Saudi Arabia listed five groups as “terrorist organizations.” Two of those groups – Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) – actually are terrorist organizations. They have engaged in a policy of indiscriminate killing, including targeting civilians, in Syria.
The odd thing is that the Saudi government has long been the main supporter of both groups!
Now, by royal decree, any Saudi citizen fighting abroad must return within two weeks, on pain of imprisonment. And any member of Jabhat al-Nusra or ISIL faces 20 years in prison.
The first Saudi who ought to go to prison is Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, former head of Saudi Intelligence. “Bandar Bush,” as he is affectionately known in American organized crime circles, ran the main conduit of arms to the terrorists until he was relieved of his Syria duties two weeks ago.
Bandar should be arrested and charged in connection with the false-flag chemical weapons attack in al-Ghouta last August. The whole Obama Administration, along with several top Israeli leaders, should be also arrested as suspected accessories.
But the Saudi government is hardly in a position to prosecute terrorists. If laws against terrorism were enforced in the kingdom, the whole Saudi elite would have to go to jail.
Come to think of it, that might not be such a bad idea.
The new Saudi “anti-terror” move is a virtual admission of defeat in Syria. By firing Bandar, and then outlawing Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIL, the Saudis apparently have given up on overthrowing the Syrian government. Saudi withdrawal from Syria may help open the door for a diplomatic solution.
But will the Saudis really stop funding Syrian terrorists? Or is the new Saudi “war on terror” merely cosmetic?
One indication that the new Saudi “anti-terror” policy is phony: Three of the alleged “terrorist” organizations banned by the Saudis are not really terrorists at all.
There is no evidence that the Muslim Brotherhood, Saudi Hizbollah, or the Yemeni Houthis have a policy of indiscriminate violence or attacks on civilians. The Saudi claim that these groups are “terrorists” is a self-serving lie.
Saudi Hizbollah has been blamed for attacks on property and on occupation forces. But even if these disputed claims are true, it has never engaged in indiscriminate attacks on civilians.
The Houthis in Yemen, likewise, do not engage in indiscriminate violence or attacks on civilians. The Takfiris they oppose, not the Houthis themselves, deserve the terrorist label.
But of all the hypocritical aspects of Saudi Arabia’s anti-terror proclamation, the most outrageous is the claim that the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) is a terrorist group. The MB, by far the biggest international Islamic organization, does not even have an armed militia. Since the 1970s, its official policy has been strictly non-violent activism. Even the MB’s Western enemies, who consider virtually all Muslims as likely terrorists, concede that the Brotherhood has followed a policy of non-violence for decades.
Tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of peaceful Muslim Brotherhood activists have disappeared and been tortured in Egypt during the decades of vicious repression by the Zionist-backed Mubarak and al-Sisi dictatorships.
Will Saudi Arabia follow Egypt’s lead and begin disappearing and torturing Muslim Brotherhood activists and intellectuals?
The new wave of persecution should concentrate the minds of MB leaders. They ought to reconsider the organization’s alliances and methods.
While ostensibly non-sectarian and pan-Islamic, the Muslim Brotherhood has been strongly influenced by Salafism, a puritanical, intolerant, politically-quietist strain of Islam. Saudi money has promoted Salafism in the MB. Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first-ever democratically-elected president and still its legitimate leader, was hamstrung by the need to placate the Saudi-funded Egyptian Salafis.
Now that Saudi Arabia is turning against the MB, perhaps the Brotherhood will escape the Salafi influence and become a genuine brotherhood of all Muslims – and a promoter of brotherhood between Muslims and all mankind. A good first step would be for the MB to launch a global campaign against sectarian violence. By demonstrating and speaking out against sectarian violence not just in Syria, but also in Yemen, Iraq, Nigeria, Myanmar, and elsewhere – and intensifying its opposition to the genocidal persecution of non-Zionist people in Palestine – the MB could gain support from progressive forces around the world.
The MB needs to learn how to build bridges among people of good will, beginning with Muslims of different orientations, and then reaching out to include justice-seeking non-Muslims. What Gandhi said of “Western Civilization” is also true of Muslim Brotherhood: It would be a good idea.
The MB should intensify its dedication to social justice, and reconsider its traditional policy of cooperation with oppressors – not just Saudis but also Western governments. The Saudis and the West are in bed with the Zionists. The MB needs to preserve its integrity and independence; it must not allow itself to be bought.
The ridiculous Saudi assertion that the MB is a “terrorist” group could turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to the Brotherhood. It could wean the group of Saudi government money and influence once and for all.
The Saudi turn against the MB could create a new set of alliances in the Middle East. On one side, the house of Zionism, Takfiri fanaticism, social injustice, dictatorship, and submission to empire: Israel, Saudi Arabia, and their acolytes. On the other side, the house of anti-Zionism, anti-imperialism, democracy, social justice, and inclusive Islam: Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, a more inclusive Muslim Brotherhood…a newer and broader “Axis of Resistance” that could spread across the region as it gradually democratizes and wins genuine independence.
When that happens, the Saudi and Zionist regimes will be tossed in the proverbial dustbin of history, and remembered as the two biggest sources of terrorism in the region since the Mongol invasion.
Dr. Kevin Barrett, a Ph.D. Arabist-Islamologist, is one of America’s best-known critics of the War on Terror. Dr. Barrett has appeared many times on Fox, CNN, PBS and other broadcast outlets, and has inspired feature stories and op-eds in the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the Chicago Tribune, and other leading publications. Dr. Barrett has taught at colleges and universities in San Francisco, Paris, and Wisconsin, where he ran for Congress in 2008. He is the co-founder of the Muslim-Christian-Jewish Alliance, and author of the books Truth Jihad: My Epic Struggle Against the 9/11 Big Lie (2007) and Questioning the War on Terror: A Primer for Obama Voters (2009). His website is www.truthjihad.com.