Dr. Al Suwaidi and the Mirage of Reform

jamal_sanad

Dr Jamal Sanad Al Suwaidi, Director General of the ECSSR, and author of The Mirage

In his book The Mirage, Dr Al Suwaidi claims that Gulf Cooperation Council states (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates) are in the process of separating religion and state.

What he doesn’t mention: At current rates, these reforms will occur as our sun reaches the supernova stage.

Is this a problem? That’s debatable. Another GCC intellectual
Sheikh Bandar al-Khaibari will tell us that the earth is flat and the sun revolves around it. So the sun will never supernova, because all scientific knowledge is a lie.

Where would we be without GCC intellectuals?

According to Dr. Al Suwaidi,

…there has been much progress in recognising the need to separate religion and state in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states, the UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman.

“There is in fact a shared belief among the GCC states that reform is necessary and closely connected to domestic and regional security and stability,” he says. These countries, as well as Jordan, have tactically moved to increase social interaction by listening to and acknowledging citizens’ concerns, often via social media, and subsequently addressing them.

What he doesn’t mention: GCC state Saudi Arabia subsequently addresses dissenting voices by flogging, beheading and/or crucifying them.

According to Amnesty International:

Of the 63 people executed this year for drug-related charges, the vast majority, 45 people, were foreign nationals. The total number of foreign nationals executed so far this year is 71. The death penalty is disproportionately used against foreigners in Saudi Arabia. Foreign nationals, mostly migrant workers from developing countries, are particularly vulnerable as they typically lack knowledge of Arabic and are denied adequate translation during their trials.

“The use of the death penalty is abhorrent in any circumstance but it is especially alarming that the Saudi Arabian authorities continue to use it in violation of international human rights law and standards, on such a wide scale, and after trials which are grossly unfair and sometimes politically motivated,”

Fellow GCC member Bahrain, isn’t much better. In an article published by the Independent, titled “Bahrain is ruthlessly crushing dissent and torturing its own citizens, yet Britain is heaping it with praise (The idea peddled by the UK that the country is reforming is a complete myth), writer Daniel Wickham says:

…Amnesty International … published a report which points to a much bleaker picture of Bahrain’s alleged progress in implementing reform. Their research finds that, contrary to the Foreign Office’s predictions, “the human rights situation today remains dire and little has changed in practise”. Reforms have “so far proved inadequate” and have had “little impact” on the ground. “Torture remains rife”, “repression is widespread”, and impunity has been “entrenched”, rather than challenged, by the “inadequate investigations” led by state institutions set up apparently to bring greater accountability to Bahrain’s allegedly highly abusive security forces.

Gulf State reforms are moving so slowly they’re going backwards.

In response to criticism that the GCC states’ political reform has been too little and too slow, Dr Al Suwaidi argues it has been incremental in a bid to avoid incomplete implementation of one stage before the next, potentially leaving room for unrest to brew.

“I perceive the vision adopted by the GCC states concerning political reform and democratic transformation to have struck the right balance in the sense of not compromising the national identity, culture and society of the state,” he says.

In Al Suwaidi’s opinion, the head-choppers and terrorist supporters are striking precisely the right balance. So, who is to blame for the terrorist unrest in the Middle East?

“Hezbollah and Hamas are similar to the Muslim Brotherhood and other political religious groups in the sense that their goal is not to work for the provision of basic needs for the people, but to achieve objectives associated with either regional nation-states or foreign organizations, by virtue of the fact that they owe allegiance to those entities.”

So, terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah, who compete with Wahhabi terrorist organizations (Al Qaeda, ISIS) for the heart and soul of the Ummah, are to blame. Got it.

He says “… it is “surprising” that ISIL, which has managed to take control of large areas of Syria and northern Iraq, has been successful in recruiting Muslims living in Europe.

“It is inexplicable that these groups should be able to find in many European countries a fertile environment that enables them to disseminate their ideas …

“Therefore, these areas must be targeted and countered, and as such, it is essential for European and American governments to cooperate with the efforts made by the GCC countries in this regard.”

Saudi Arabia has offered to build more extremist mosques in Europe. Is this how they’re fighting extremism?

Many ISIS recruits come from wealthy and middle class families. How does Dr Al Suwaidi address this fact? He doesn’t. He ignores it and blames the poor.

In lower socio-economic countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Sudan, extremism has flourished among the poorly educated who are unaware of the consequences of their beliefs.
“One of the problems faced by these countries lies mainly in the declining levels of education, which leaves various segments of society in these countries vulnerable to destructive ideologies propagated by political and religious groups,” Dr Al Suwaidi says.

“Pakistan, Afghanistan and Somalia should encourage institutions to establish branches of prestigious Islamic universities or religious institutions and task them with confronting extremist ideologies, as well as encouraging them to disseminate more moderate and more tolerant values.

“Additional development assistance is [also] required. There is no doubt that the inferior economic conditions in these countries are fuelling the rise in extremism and terrorism; it is well known that these jihadist groups look to exploit these conditions in their recruitment of vulnerable young people.

He doesn’t mention that these youth are trained by GCC sponsored-madrassas and recruited by GCC jihadists.

It appears that the only thing that’s honest about Al Suwaidi’s book is the title.

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About marypmadigan

Writer/photographer (profession), foreign policy wonk (hobby).
This entry was posted in middle east, Politics/Foreign correspondents and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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