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From al Sa'ud to al Thani

Reader comment on item: Arabia's Civil War

Submitted by Avraham (United States), May 14, 2003 at 20:43

Today marks a major turning point in the history of the modern Middle East. Qatar announced that it will become the first Arab country to unconditionally recognize Israel. The other Arab regimes that have recognized Israel-Egpyt, Jordan and the PLO-demanded land or other concessions in return. The al Thani family that rules Qatar, however, said that unconditionally recognizing the Jewish democracy was "in our national interest." If the Saudi Wahhabis are to truly defeat the Ikhwan, they too will have to realize that recognizing Israel and enacting major socioeconomic and political reforms are in their national interest. Job opportunities and a sense of purpose and worth will provide the basis for a pluralist and peaceful ideology to counter the Ikhwan.

Indeed, the Ikhwan dominate modern Saudi Arabia because they have gone unchallenged in their quest to radicalize those segments of the Arabian population that are most vulnerable to militant utopian ideologies: the educated but unemployed upper middle class. When someone like Osama bin Laden is given millions of dollars and a first-class education in a society that abhors material possesion as "the Great Satan" and that does not allow for sociopolitical mobility, Ikhwan school teachers like Hassan al Banna, Abdullah Azzam and Umar Abdel Rahman have little difficulty in sailing accross the Red Sea from Cairo to Jiddah and into the hearts and minds of students at Arab universities and mosques.

The al Saud family must recognize his phenomenon and realize what Qatari Emir Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani professed to CNN's Wolf Blitzer: "We can tell our people to hate America, but at the end of the day, they will see the [US military] planes flying from our airports, so what is the point...?"

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