My recent post about Syria, the Russian bear, and Iran passionately describes the plight of innocent civilians being killed in Syria. While my supportive sentiments for the human rights of Syrians remain steadfast, there are some developments and stories within the stories that are not reaching the mainstream press, and are alarming signs that Syria may be spiraling into another Lebanon (i.e., the civil war in Lebanon, 1975-1990).
One of these signs is the sectarian strife, where reports about Sunnis and Alawites targeting each other, as well as kidnapping for ransom and release of detainees, are surfacing. Of course, the Assad regime itself has most likely intensified such sectarianism, but nonetheless, the fierce sectarian violence witnessed in the Lebanese civil war is a potential scenario in today’s Syria. I have already seen at least one anti-Shiite posting on Facebook in reference to Syria.
This brings me to the other specter pertaining to Syria: the Saudis, with their Wahhabi and very anti-Shiite (read “anti-Iran”) agenda for the region. No one should be surprised with Saudi propositions for the need to end the slaughter in Syria. But, we should read between the lines very carefully, considering the source. Al Arabiya quotes Saudi King Abdullah as calling for “‘critical measures’ to be taken on Syria, warning of an impending ‘humanitarian disaster’.”
Uh-huh. This is the same Saudi monarch who sent tanks and troops into Bahrain and viciously cracked down on and killed and abused countless civilians to quell the uprising there. But you see, the Bahraini protesters were mostly Shiites, and once the dust settled in Pearl Square, Shiite shrines were systematically bulldozed. Starting to see the picture folks?
In my book, the Saudi “government” is never sincere about humanitarian issues. Look at their own track record inside the kingdom; it’s the epitome of intolerance. The Saudis are one of the creators of the Taliban, and the supporters and exporters of the most intolerant, ultra-orthodox / literalist, violent, misogynist, and militancy-inspiring ideology in the world, that is, Wahhabism.
If you have any doubts about the Saudis’ human rights track record, go to the Human Rights Watch website and read the country report on Saudi Arabia (http://www.hrw.org/middle-eastn-africa/saudi-arabia). And, here is another example of Saudi intolerance, reported in David Keyes’ article in the Washington Post (Feb. 9):
“Saudi journalist Hamza Kashgari was detained in Malaysia on Wednesday night and is likely to be extradited soon to Saudi Arabia, where he will be tried for blaspheming religion. Kashgari, 23, had fled the kingdom Monday after he received thousands of death threats. His crime? He posted on Twitter a series of mock conversations between himself and the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
‘On your birthday I find you in front of me wherever I go,’ he wrote in one tweet. ‘I love many things about you and hate others, and there are many things about you I don’t understand.’
Another reads: ‘No Saudi women will go to hell, because it’s impossible to go there twice.’
The tweets came to light last week around a celebration of Muhammad’s birthday, and Kashgari’s ordeal began. Hours before he was detained, Kashgari spoke to me by phone from the house in which he was hiding. ‘I was with sitting with my friends and one of them checked Twitter on his mobile phone,’ he said. ‘Suddenly there were thousands of tweets of people calling to kill me because they said I’m against religion.’
… Kashgari noted with sadness that many young Saudis are leaving their country in hopes of escaping the government’s repressive policies. ‘It’s not logical that, if someone disagrees with the Saudi government, that he should be forced to leave the country. Many of those who have been arrested are fighting for simple rights that everyone should have — freedom of thought, expression, speech and religion.’
… The young writer surmised that the threats against him were, in part, a result of the tens of millions of dollars the Saudi king allotted to the religious police last spring. Many Saudi dissidents have noted increased repression in the past few months and are terrified of the ascent of Crown Prince Naif, who has served as interior minister for decades.”
Reports are indicating that Saudi King Abdullah has personally demanded Kashgari’s arrest. If Kashgari is extradited, he faces the possibility of execution for blasphemy. This is coming from a strong US ally.
All of this does not in any way exonerate the crimes of the Assad regime. But, we must remain vigilant about scrutinizing sources of information and news, and read between the lines when heads of state in the region so vociferously call for action to help the Syrian civilians. Clearly, they have their own agendas, and that couldn’t be more the case when it comes to the Saudi king. Hypocrisy, intolerance, and systematic anti-Shiite agendas constitute the Saudi specter concerning Syria.
NOTE: Everything I write in this blog constitutes my personal opinions and views.