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What about those Gulf yokels?

Reader comment on item: Islam, Islamism, and Western Policy

Submitted by Dave (United States), Apr 30, 2020 at 09:08

Let's see, I'm trying to figure out where places like Saudi Arabia and the UAE fit in this scheme. Are they Islamist, traditional, reformist, or some sort of hybrid?

A country that still executes people for witchcraft and beheads heretics is certainly traditionalist, or backward, pejoratively speaking. The KSA enforces Sharia and is thoroughly Islamic, religiously and politically. The other Gulf states are similar, to varying degrees. Yet, these states all embrace the West and its technology for defense purposes, but that doesn't change their basic character as Islamic (or Islamist?) monarchies. To further complicate things, MBS is something of a reformist, for example in exempting minors from Sharia punishments, and in some of his shockingly enlightened statements, such as linking the MB to Nazism. Plus, Abu Dhabi welcomes western visitors and has tolerated Israel to some extent. Of course, the Iranian menace makes Israel's assistance something of a necessary evil.

These states seem to display all the tendencies Dr. Pipes mentioned, to varying degrees. Their oil wealth makes them very cautious, but there are some hopeful signs that reformist impulses will gather strength over time before radical forces sweep these quaint kingdoms away.


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