A rational future for Saudi Arabia at sight?

In 2007, Prince Mohammed graduated fourth in his class from King Saud University with a bachelor’s degree in law. Then the kingdom came knocking. He resisted at first, telling the director of the Bureau of Experts, which serves as the cabinet’s legal adviser, that he was off to get married, earn a master’s degree overseas, and make his fortune. But his father urged him to give the government a chance, and Prince Mohammed did so for two years, focusing on changing certain corporate laws and regulations that “I had always struggled with.”

His boss, Essam bin Saeed, says the prince showed a restless intellect and no patience for bureaucracy. “Procedures that used to take two months, he’d ask for them in two days,” says Saeed, who now works as a minister of state. “Today, it’s one day.”

In 2009, King Abdullah refused to approve Prince Mohammed’s promotion, in theory to avoid the appearance of nepotism. A bitter Prince Mohammed left and went to work for his father, then governor of Riyadh. He stepped into a viper’s nest. As Prince Mohammed tells it, he tried to streamline procedures to keep his father from drowning in a sea of paperwork, and the old guard rebelled. They accused the young prince of usurping power by cutting off their contact with his father and took their complaints to King Abdullah. In 2011, King Abdullah named Prince Salman defense minister but ordered Prince Mohammed never to set foot inside the ministry.

The prince worried his career was over. “I’m saying to myself, ‘I’m in my 20s, I don’t know how I fell into more than one trap,’ ” he says. But given how things have turned out, he’s grateful. “It’s only by coincidence I started working with my father—all because of King Abdullah’s decision not to grant my promotion. God bless his soul, he did me a favor.”

Source: The $2 Trillion Project to Get Saudi Arabia’s Economy Off Oil – Bloomberg


I liked what I read in this article… At least what they said. Now I want to hear a bit about what they silenced.

Especially concerning the future religious and political influence of Saudi wealth in the globe. Because BOTH are already affecting us all.

Religious influence is felt in Europe, where most imams in the newly opened mosques are salafists, many formed in Riyadh and other hard-line and wahabbi-styled schools. Deffinitely not the kind of doctrine to support mix and integration but confrontation and social inestability.

Political influence is felt in the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees we have at our door asking for a chance… after Saudis, Qataris and Turks fuelled one of the sides of the Syrian civil war, not in the aim to bring freedom and democracy to Syrians, but to impose a strict Sunni regime. Exactly the opposite f what the other side and its supports would never accept.

So… there’s still a lot to expect and many more news to check but… at least what they said… is not bad.

Time will tell. As always did.

Islamic State, or the need to fill a weak soul’s horror vacui.

“(…) “If Muslim kids feel they can’t express themselves, it’s very worrying for us because people need to talk about things in order to have their minds changed,” Slovo said. “If you drive it underground, it’s dangerous. There’s no teacher who can argue with them …. There is nobody in authority for them to talk with.”

One young man says he’s exactly the same as his fellow British citizens with all the same fears.”He thinks people look at him and think, ‘Oh, you’re Muslim and you’re not even scared by this.’ But he too worries that if he goes into the Underground [subway system] he’s going to be blown up because Islamic State does not distinguish,” Slovo said.

The young people say they are stared at on the Underground, heckled to go back to where they’ve come from, and are worried about the rise of Islamophobia.

Still, Slovo believes the UK’s commitment to multiculturalism means integration is comparatively better here.

“It was so absolutely clear in Brussels and absolutely clear in France that feelings of exclusion by those kids is one of the biggest driving factors over there,” she said.

(…) young people grow up: They settle down, have kids, and stop rebelling against their parents. But there is a constant supply of young people – many looking for some meaning in their lives – who become prime targets for ISIL recruitment.”


What happens when your child joins ISIL? – Al Jazeera English


Gillian Slovo’s play, Another World, tells the stories of ISIL recruits through the words of their mothers.

Middle East Borders,… Can we fix something that was broken since it was born?

Some of my Middle Eastern friends could not read this in the original website, so I decided to copy-paste the content of this article. The link to the original material is this:


Does the Middle East Need New Borders?

On May 17, 1916, France and the United Kingdom signed the Sykes-Picot agreement, named after the two diplomats who conducted the negotiations. The agreement was the first in a series of treaties that would eventually create the modern states of the Middle East following the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. One hundred years later, analysts such as Robin Wright and Jeffrey Goldbergpredict that the region’s borders will soon be redrawn once more. Indeed, in Iraq and Syria, where proto-states outside the government’s control have already emerged, the idea of new borders does not appear so far-fetched. In Iraq, for example, the Kurds have already announced that they will hold a referendum on independence before the end of 2016.

New borders will not restore stability, however, because the present ones are not the cause of the region’s turmoil. The states themselves must change if there is to be any sort of peaceful order that can accommodate the demands of the region’s diverse populations. Yet the prospects for such a transformation are dim.

Often denounced as artificial lines in the sand drawn by ignorant European diplomats, the borders in the region are no more artificial than those established by conflict. Even the most ardent critics of the status quo have given no indication of where the region’s natural borders lie, because there are no natural borders. The Kurds, for example, aggrieved by a partition of the region that did not give them their own country, even disagree on whether there should be one Kurdistan or several Kurdish states.

The real root of the region’s problems is the superimposition of heavily centralized, authoritarian states on the region’s mosaic of ethnic and religious groups. But a transition to democracy, even if it were likely, would be equally problematic. In theory, truly inclusive, democratic governments might be able to govern such heterogeneous countries in a decentralized way without the need for repression or partition. But in the real world, such ideal governments do not exist. And attempted political reforms in highly divided societies, far from encouraging reconciliation, often hasten partition and conflict. In Yugoslavia in 1990, for instance, the first multi-party elections triggered the state’s political disintegration.


The pressure to create new states in the Middle East comes from three sources: Iraqi Kurds; Syrian Kurds; and the Islamic State (or ISIS).

Iraqi Kurds already have their own autonomous region, recognized by the 2005 constitution, but they see it as simply a first step on the road to independence. Divided among themselves, the Kurds show little solidarity with their counterparts in Syria and even less with those in Turkey.

Kurdish fighters carry their parties' flags in Tel Abyad of Raqqa governorate after they said they took control of the area, June 2015.

Kurdish fighters carry their parties’ flags in Tel Abyad of Raqqa governorate after they said they took control of the area, June 2015.

Syrian Kurds, for now, deny wanting their own state, but they are establishing controlwell beyond Kurdish majority areas in Rojava, in northern Syria. In March, they declared that their territory was a federal state within Syria, but they received no support from the international community. This is unlikely to deter them from strengthening their writ in these areas and seeking to extend them.

ISIS is the most interesting case. Originating in U.S.-occupied Iraq as a movement affiliated with al Qaeda, it suffered a serious setback after the U.S. troop surge in 2007, but reemerged as a major force in Syria in 2013. By late 2014, it controlled enough territory in Iraq and Syria to declare itself a state. The proclamation was not just rhetorical: documents captured by the anti-ISIS coalition leave no doubt that ISIS-controlled territory is not just a rebel hideout but a state in the making, with its own security and bureaucratic structures and the financial resources to back them up.

Often denounced as artificial lines in the sand drawn by ignorant European diplomats, the borders are no more artificial than those established by conflict.

ISIS appears to be heading for defeat in its efforts to create a lasting state, although it will continue to exist as an extremely dangerous international terrorist network. It has already lost much of the territory it once controlled, but it will be a long time before the coalition can regain control of ISIS’ core areas around Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria. Yet even if this state experiment ultimately fails, it has already shaken the region’s old order.

Although only the Kurds and ISIS have openly challenged the existing borders so far, other Iraqis are beginning to do so. Some Sunnis, including Atheel al-Nujaifi, the speaker of the Iraqi parliament and the former governor of Nineveh, are arguing that the Sunni provinces will need special provisions from the Shia-led government once they are liberated. Nujaifi has even held up autonomous Kurdistan as an example that the Sunnis should consider emulating. And even some Shia provinces, such as Basra, which sits on Iraq’s richest oil fields, are challenging the authority of Baghdad and demanding autonomy.

Iraq's Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi tours the city of Tikrit after Iraq security forces regained control from Islamist State militants, April 2015.

Iraq’s Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi tours the city of Tikrit after Iraq security forces regained control from Islamist State militants, April 2015.

The governments of Iraq and Syria naturally reject any change in their borders, although they can no longer claim to control everything within those borders. And among the two country’s neighbors, opposition to partition is equally strong. Russia and the United States also oppose the dismantling of either: Russia because Syria’s demise would weaken itsally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and the United States because it is against the partition of any state. It did not even support the dismantling of the Soviet Union, hoping that political reform would make it unnecessary.


Instead, the United States, along with the European countries and the UN, believes that democratic, inclusive governments can bring about peace without the need for new borders. This belief underpins U.S. efforts to encourage reform in Iraq and international efforts to negotiate an end to the conflict in Syria. But the idea has little support in the two countries, except on the part of liberals whose voices are lost among the clashes of armed militias and the maneuvering of elites determined to maintain their power and privileges.

Reform has become a tool in a new intra-Shia political battle that has nothing to do with democracy or good governance.

The problem is that a truly inclusive, democratic system would require eliminating the region’s armed militias, sectarian leaders, and corrupt elites—in other words, all those who currently hold power. Short of a massive interventionfrom the outside, which is not going to happen, nobody can do that.

 Consider Iraq. During the occupation, the United States helped develop—some would say imposed—a political system based on elections but also on ethnic and sectarian quotas. But the system broke down after thewithdrawal of U.S. troops and became increasingly Shia-dominated and authoritarian under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. As a condition of assisting Iraq in the fight against ISIS in 2014, the United States insisted on a new prime minister willing to govern inclusively, and Haider al-Abadi replaced Maliki. Abadi is now trying to curb corruption and hasproposed a new cabinet of technocrats unaffiliated with political parties.

But the parties, unsurprisingly, are opposed to being sidelined, and parliament has not approved the proposed cabinet. The only political figure other than Abadi who has accepted the idea of a technocratic government is Muqtada al-Sadr, a fiery, maverick cleric shunned by the major Shia political parties. Sadr is using the idea to increase his own power by threatening to unleash demonstrations and street action unless a non-political cabinet is installed. Reform, in other words, has become a tool in a new intra-Shia political battle that has nothing to do with democracy or good governance.

The deep political reform that could possibly allow Iraq and Syria to become stable countries has not begun in either country. Abadi tried to take some modest steps and failed. Assad did not even try, insisting that all his country needs is new elections. And progress in the fight against ISIS may only make the Iraqi and Syrian governments more repressive and provide additional incentives for those who see new borders as the only solution. The region is stumbling toward the end of Sykes-Picot, but it is no closer to the end of turmoil.

New borders in the Middle East will not restore stability because the present ones are not the cause of the region’s turmoil. The states themselves must change if there is to be any sort of peaceful order that can accommodate the demands of the region’s diverse populations. Yet the prospects for such a transformation are dim.

Maybe the key factor to explain Daesh success in attracting followers? Quite close to the Nazi Party ways to recruit its members: Empowering the weak.

Khan says it can be “almost a liberation” if they’re escaping something else.

“An exaggerated expression of religiosity gives more freedom.

The younger women have gone at that age where most Muslim families bring up marriage.” Some of the older women she thinks are victims of domestic violence.Khan believes young Muslims of both sexes often feel powerless.

“You’re born and the script of your life is already written by your family and community: what you will be when you grow up, who you will marry. Your job is to strive for that. If you don’t, you bring dishonour.

” Some have found a way to redress this power imbalance: religion. “It’s the one thing the parents can’t argue back on: ‘Mum and Dad, you’re not even proper Muslims.’ It’s genius.

Parents have curfews; ‘but I’m going to a religious studies group’” — Khan gives the finger – “It’s a trump card that almost puts kids in the dominant position.”


Deeyah Khan: What IS do is like grooming – they prey on guilt, loneliness and anger| London Life | Lifestyle | London Evening Standard


Muslim men, you owe women their rights – and the Quran says so. Don’t forget that.

Quite simply, in being your intellectual, spiritual and social equals, we recognise the immensity of the paradox that some of you continue to propagate. Despite your fervent attempts to use mistranslations and misinterpretations of scripture and tradition to satisfy your desires, we don’t believe you. We do not need strengthening, we need recognition of the different forms our strength comes in.This is an injustice at one end of the same spectrum that groups like Isis operate on. And for those of you who do not actively enforce this injustice, by remaining complicit in the shackling of even one woman, you are shackling all of us. How can a society progress if half of it is chained?


An open letter to Muslim men from an angry Muslim woman | Voices | The Independent



I remember reading the New Testament, and how St. Paul used to say that women must remain silent and “invisible” during the mass. Still… I was never taught such a thing during my religious education. Same as I was not educated in many parts of the Old Testament which state rules that were changed by Jesus and apparently revived by Muhammad. That doesn’t mean at all that Catholic Church treats women equally. There’s still a long way to run in that sense, and traditions like the ones preached by Paul of Tarsus have been alive until not so many decades ago.

Still… forbiding women the entrance to the temple is just an absurd choice that even “conservative” institutions such as Roman Catholic church have never dared to consider.

It’s too stupid,…. too non-sensible.

But well…. what can you expèct?.  

Nothing new under the Saudi Sun… isn’t it?

With undercover footage and on-the-ground reporting, FRONTLINE reveals a side of Saudi Arabia that’s rarely seen.


Saudi Arabia Uncovered | FRONTLINE | PBS

This is nothing new for many of us who follow in the news the daily hell that living in KSA represents for many. But it’s a very interesting compilation of cases. And same as happens with Turkey… it mjust be a remembrance of what kind of people we call our allies.

A must watch for newbies, I’d say.