Affaire Kashoggi: Cherchez l’erreur ! (Guess on which country the heroic and now martyred Muslim brotherhood liberal reformer who sought freedom for the Arab world cheered Hamas’ war ?)

saudi-flagLa récompense de ceux qui font la guerre contre Allah et Son messager, et qui s’efforcent de semer la corruption sur la terre, c’est qu’ils soient tués, ou crucifiés, ou que soient coupées leur main et leur jambe opposées, ou qu’ils soient expulsés du pays. Ce sera pour eux l’ignominie ici-bas; et dans l’au-delà, il y aura pour eux un énorme châtiment, excepté ceux qui se sont repentis avant de tomber en votre pouvoir: sachez qu’alors, Allah est Pardonneur et Miséricordieux. Le Coran (sourate 5: 33-34)
La démocratie et ses fondements jusqu’à aujourd’hui peuvent être perçus à la fois comme une fin en soi ou un moyen. Selon nous la démocratie est seulement un moyen. Si vous voulez entrer dans n’importe quel système, l’élection est un moyen. La démocratie est comme un tramway, il va jusqu’où vous voulez aller, et là vous descendezErdogan
On ne peut pas être musulman et laïque en même temps (…). Le milliard et demi de musulmans attend que le peuple turc se soulève. Nous allons nous soulever. Avec la permission d’Allah, la rébellion va commencer. Erdogan  (1992)
Notre démocratie est uniquement le train dans lequel nous montons jusqu’à ce que nous ayons atteint notre objectif. Les mosquées sont nos casernes, les minarets sont nos baïonnettes, les coupoles nos casques et les croyants nos soldats. Erdogan (1997)
L’expression ‘islam modéré’ est laide et offensante,  il n’y a pas d’islam modéré. L’Islam est l’Islam. Erdogan (2007)
Personne ne peut vous demander d’être assimilés. Pour moi, le fait de demander l’assimilation est un crime contre l’humanité. Erdogan (Paris, avril 2010)
La Turquie a besoin d’un nouvel esprit de conquête. Grâce à ce parc, nos enfants regarderont vers le futur à travers notre glorieuse histoire. Erdogan (inauguration du musée Panorama 1453)
Ni la mosquée d’Al Aksa, ni le tombeau du prophète Ibrahim ni la tombe de Rachel n’ont été et ne seront jamais des sites juifs, mais uniquement musulmans. Erdogan (mars 2010)
Nearly 15 years on, Huntington’s thesis about a civilizational clash seems more compelling to me than the critique I provided at that time. In recent years, for example, the edifice of Kemalism has come under assault, and Turkey has now elected an Islamist to the presidency in open defiance of the military-bureaucratic elite. There has come that “redefinition” that Huntington prophesied. To be sure, the verdict may not be quite as straightforward as he foresaw. The Islamists have prevailed, but their desired destination, or so they tell us, is still Brussels: in that European shelter, the Islamists shrewdly hope they can find protection against the power of the military. (…) Huntington had the integrity and the foresight to see the falseness of a borderless world, a world without differences. (He is one of two great intellectual figures who peered into the heart of things and were not taken in by globalism’s conceit, Bernard Lewis being the other.) I still harbor doubts about whether the radical Islamists knocking at the gates of Europe, or assaulting it from within, are the bearers of a whole civilization. They flee the burning grounds of Islam, but carry the fire with them. They are “nowhere men,” children of the frontier between Islam and the West, belonging to neither. If anything, they are a testament to the failure of modern Islam to provide for its own and to hold the fidelities of the young. More ominously perhaps, there ran through Huntington’s pages an anxiety about the will and the coherence of the West — openly stated at times, made by allusions throughout. The ramparts of the West are not carefully monitored and defended, Huntington feared. Islam will remain Islam, he worried, but it is “dubious” whether the West will remain true to itself and its mission. Clearly, commerce has not delivered us out of history’s passions, the World Wide Web has not cast aside blood and kin and faith. It is no fault of Samuel Huntington’s that we have not heeded his darker, and possibly truer, vision. Fouad Ajami
There should be no illusions about the sort of Arab landscape that America is destined to find if, or when, it embarks on a war against the Iraqi regime. There would be no « hearts and minds » to be won in the Arab world, no public diplomacy that would convince the overwhelming majority of Arabs that this war would be a just war. An American expedition in the wake of thwarted UN inspections would be seen by the vast majority of Arabs as an imperial reach into their world, a favor to Israel, or a way for the United States to secure control over Iraq’s oil. No hearing would be given to the great foreign power. (…) America ought to be able to live with this distrust and discount a good deal of this anti-Americanism as the « road rage » of a thwarted Arab world – the congenital condition of a culture yet to take full responsibility for its self-inflicted wounds. There is no need to pay excessive deference to the political pieties and givens of the region. Indeed, this is one of those settings where a reforming foreign power’s simpler guidelines offer a better way than the region’s age-old prohibitions and defects. Fouad Ajami
The current troubles of the Obama presidency can be read back into its beginnings. Rule by personal charisma has met its proper fate. The spell has been broken, and the magician stands exposed. We need no pollsters to tell us of the loss of faith in Mr. Obama’s policies—and, more significantly, in the man himself. Charisma is like that. Crowds come together and they project their needs onto an imagined redeemer. The redeemer leaves the crowd to its imagination: For as long as the charismatic moment lasts—a year, an era—the redeemer is above and beyond judgment. Fouad Ajami
The Iraqis needn’t trumpet the obvious fact in broad daylight, but the balance of power in the Persian Gulf would be altered for the better by a security arrangement between the United States and the government in Baghdad. (…) There remains, of course, the pledge given by presidential candidate Barack Obama that a President Obama would liquidate the American military role in Iraq by the end of 2011. That pledge was one of the defining themes of his bid for the presidency, and it endeared him to the “progressives” within his own party, who had been so agitated and mobilized against the Iraq war. But Barack Obama is now the standard-bearer of America’s power. He has broken with the “progressives” over Afghanistan, the use of drones in Pakistan, Guantánamo, military tribunals, and a whole host of national security policies that have (nearly) blurred the line between his policies and those of his predecessor. The left has grumbled, but, in the main, it has bowed to political necessity. At any rate, the fury on the left that once surrounded the Iraq war has been spent; a residual American presence in Iraq would fly under the radar of the purists within the ranks of the Democratic Party. (…) The enemy will have a say on how things will play out for American forces in Iraq. Iran and its Iraqi proxies can be expected to do all they can to make the American presence as bloody and costly as possible. A long, leaky border separates Iran from Iraq; movement across it is quite easy for Iranian agents and saboteurs. They can come in as “pilgrims,” and there might be shades of Lebanon in the 1980s, big deeds of terror that target the American forces.  (…) Even in the best of worlds, an American residual presence in Iraq will have its costs and heartbreak. But the United States will have to be prepared for and accept the losses and adversity that are an integral part of staying on, rightly, in so tangled and difficult a setting. Fouad Ajami
L’argument selon lequel la liberté ne peut venir que de l’intérieur et ne peut être offerte à des peuples lointains est bien plus fausse que l’on croit. Dans toute l’histoire moderne, la fortune de la liberté a toujours dépendu de la volonté de la ou des puissances dominantes du moment. Le tout récemment disparu professeur Samuel P. Huntington avait développé ce point de la manière la plus détaillée. Dans 15 des 29 pays démocratiques en 1970, les régimes démocratiques avaient été soit initiés par une puissance étrangère soit étaient le produit de l’indépendance contre une occupation étrangère. (…) Tout au long du flux et du reflux de la liberté, la puissance est toujours restée importante et la liberté a toujours eu besoin de la protection de grandes puissances. Le pouvoir d’attraction des pamphlets de Mill, Locke et Paine était fondé sur les canons de la Pax Britannica, et sur la force de l’Amérique quand la puissance britannique a flanché.  (…) L’ironie est maintenant évidente: George W. Bush comme force pour l’émancipation des terres musulmanes et Barack Hussein Obama en messager des bonnes vieilles habitudes. Ainsi c’est le plouc qui porte au monde le message que les musulmans et les Arabes n’ont pas la tyrannie dans leur ADN et l’homme aux fragments musulmans, kenyans et indonésiens dans sa propre vie et son identité qui annonce son acceptation de l’ordre établi. Mr. Obama pourrait encore reconnaître l’impact révolutionnaire de la diplomatie de son prédecesseur mais jusqu’à présent il s’est refusé à le faire. (…) Son soutien au  » processus de paix » est un retour à la diplomatie stérile des années Clinton, avec sa croyance que le terrorisme prend sa source dans les revendications des Palestiniens. M. Obama et ses conseillers se sont gardés d’affirmer que le terrorisme a disparu, mais il y a un message indubitable donné par eux que nous pouvons retourner à nos propres affaires, que Wall Street est plus mortel et dangereux que la fameuse  » rue Arabo-Musulmane ».  Fouad Ajami
L’Arabie Saoudite n’est rien d’autre qu’un Daesh qui a réussi. Éric Zemmour
Daesh noir, Daesh blanc. Le premier égorge, tue, lapide, coupe les mains, détruit le patrimoine de l’humanité, et déteste l’archéologie, la femme et l’étranger non musulman. Le second est mieux habillé et plus propre, mais il fait la même chose. L’Etat islamique et l’Arabie saoudite. Dans sa lutte contre le terrorisme, l’Occident mène la guerre contre l’un tout en serrant la main de l’autre. Mécanique du déni, et de son prix. On veut sauver la fameuse alliance stratégique avec l’Arabie saoudite tout en oubliant que ce royaume repose sur une autre alliance, avec un clergé religieux qui produit, rend légitime, répand, prêche et défend le wahhabisme, islamisme ultra-puritain dont se nourrit Daesh. (…) L’Arabie saoudite est un Daesh qui a réussi. Le déni de l’Occident face à ce pays est frappant: on salue cette théocratie comme un allié et on fait mine de ne pas voir qu’elle est le principal mécène idéologique de la culture islamiste. Les nouvelles générations extrémistes du monde dit « arabe » ne sont pas nées djihadistes. Elles ont été biberonnées par la Fatwa Valley, espèce de Vatican islamiste avec une vaste industrie produisant théologiens, lois religieuses, livres et politiques éditoriales et médiatiques agressives. (…) Il faut vivre dans le monde musulman pour comprendre l’immense pouvoir de transformation des chaines TV religieuses sur la société par le biais de ses maillons faibles : les ménages, les femmes, les milieux ruraux. La culture islamiste est aujourd’hui généralisée dans beaucoup de pays — Algérie, Maroc, Tunisie, Libye, Egypte, Mali, Mauritanie. On y retrouve des milliers de journaux et des chaines de télévision islamistes (comme Echourouk et Iqra), ainsi que des clergés qui imposent leur vision unique du monde, de la tradition et des vêtements à la fois dans l’espace public, sur les textes de lois et sur les rites d’une société qu’ils considèrent comme contaminée. Il faut lire certains journaux islamistes et leurs réactions aux attaques de Paris. On y parle de l’Occident comme site de « pays impies »; les attentats sont la conséquence d’attaques contre l’Islam ; les musulmans et les arabes sont devenus les ennemis des laïcs et des juifs. On y joue sur l’affect de la question palestinienne, le viol de l’Irak et le souvenir du trauma colonial pour emballer les masses avec un discours messianique. Alors que ce discours impose son signifiant aux espaces sociaux, en haut, les pouvoirs politiques présentent leurs condoléances à la France et dénoncent un crime contre l’humanité. Une situation de schizophrénie totale, parallèle au déni de l’Occident face à l’Arabie Saoudite. Ceci laisse sceptique sur les déclarations tonitruantes des démocraties occidentales quant à la nécessité de lutter contre le terrorisme. Cette soi-disant guerre est myope car elle s’attaque à l’effet plutôt qu’à la cause. Daesh étant une culture avant d’être une milice, comment empêcher les générations futures de basculer dans le djihadisme alors qu’on n’a pas épuisé l’effet de la Fatwa Valley, de ses clergés, de sa culture et de son immense industrie éditoriale? Kamel Daoud
Arab civilization, such as we knew it, is all but gone. The Arab world today is more violent, unstable, fragmented and driven by extremism—the extremism of the rulers and those in opposition—than at any time since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire a century ago. Every hope of modern Arab history has been betrayed. The promise of political empowerment, the return of politics, the restoration of human dignity heralded by the season of Arab uprisings in their early heydays—all has given way to civil wars, ethnic, sectarian and regional divisions and the reassertion of absolutism, both in its military and atavistic forms. With the dubious exception of the antiquated monarchies and emirates of the Gulf—which for the moment are holding out against the tide of chaos—and possibly Tunisia, there is no recognizable legitimacy left in the Arab world. Is it any surprise that, like the vermin that take over a ruined city, the heirs to this self-destroyed civilization should be the nihilistic thugs of the Islamic State? And that there is no one else who can clean up the vast mess we Arabs have made of our world but the Americans and Western countries? No one paradigm or one theory can explain what went wrong in the Arab world in the last century. There is no obvious set of reasons for the colossal failures of all the ideologies and political movements that swept the Arab region: Arab nationalism, in its Baathist and Nasserite forms; various Islamist movements; Arab socialism; the rentier state and rapacious monopolies, leaving in their wake a string of broken societies. No one theory can explain the marginalization of Egypt, once the center of political and cultural gravity in the Arab East, and its brief and tumultuous experimentation with peaceful political change before it reverted back to military rule. Nor is the notion of “ancient sectarian hatreds” adequate to explain the frightening reality that along a front stretching from Basra at the mouth of the Persian Gulf to Beirut on the Mediterranean there exists an almost continuous bloodletting between Sunni and Shia—the public manifestation of an epic geopolitical battle for power and control pitting Iran, the Shia powerhouse, against Saudi Arabia, the Sunni powerhouse, and their proxies. There is no one single overarching explanation for that tapestry of horrors in Syria and Iraq, where in the last five years more than a quarter of a million people perished, where famed cities like Aleppo, Homs and Mosul were visited by the modern terror of Assad’s chemical weapons and the brutal violence of the Islamic State. How could Syria tear itself apart and become—like Spain in the 1930s—the arena for Arabs and Muslims to re-fight their old civil wars? The war waged by the Syrian regime against civilians in opposition areas combined the use of Scud missiles, anti-personnel barrel bombs as well as medieval tactics against towns and neighborhoods such as siege and starvation. For the first time since the First World War, Syrians were dying of malnutrition and hunger. Iraq’s story in the last few decades is a chronicle of a death foretold. The slow death began with Saddam Hussein’s fateful decision to invade Iran in September 1980. Iraqis have been living in purgatory ever since with each war giving birth to another. In the midst of this suspended chaos, the U.S. invasion in 2003 was merely a catalyst that allowed the violent chaos to resume in full force. The polarizations in Syria and Iraq—political, sectarian and ethnic—are so deep that it is difficult to see how these once-important countries could be restored as unitary states. In Libya, Muammar al-Qaddafi’s 42-year reign of terror rendered the country politically desolate and fractured its already tenuous unity. The armed factions that inherited the exhausted country have set it on the course of breaking up—again, unsurprisingly—along tribal and regional fissures. Yemen has all the ingredients of a failed state: political, sectarian, tribal, north-south divisions, against the background of economic deterioration and a depleted water table that could turn it into the first country in the world to run out of drinking water. Bahrain is maintaining a brittle status quo by the force of arms of its larger neighbors, mainly Saudi Arabia. Lebanon, dominated by Hezbollah, arguably the most powerful non-state actor in the world—before the rise of the Islamic State—could be dragged fully to the maelstrom of Syria’s multiple civil wars by the Assad regime, Iran and its proxy Hezbollah as well as the Islamic State. (….) The jihadists of the Islamic State, in other words, did not emerge from nowhere. They climbed out of a rotting, empty hulk—what was left of a broken-down civilization. They are a gruesome manifestation of a deeper malady afflicting Arab political culture, which was stagnant, repressive and patriarchal after the decades of authoritarian rule that led to the disastrous defeat in the 1967 war with Israel. That defeat sounded the death knell of Arab nationalism and the resurgence of political Islam, which projected itself as the alternative to the more secular ideologies that had dominated the Arab republics since the Second World War. If Arab decline was the problem, then “Islam is the solution,” the Islamists said—and they believed it. At their core, both political currents—Arab nationalism and Islamism—are driven by atavistic impulses and a regressive outlook on life that is grounded in a mostly mythologized past. Many Islamists, including Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood (the wellspring of such groups)—whether they say it explicitly or hint at it—are still on a ceaseless quest to resurrect the old Ottoman Caliphate. Still more radical types—the Salafists—yearn for a return to the puritanical days of Prophet Muhammad and his companions. For most Islamists, democracy means only majoritarian rule, and the rule of sharia law, which codifies gender inequality and discrimination against non-Muslims. And let’s face the grim truth: There is no evidence whatever that Islam in its various political forms is compatible with modern democracy. From Afghanistan under the Taliban to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, and from Iran to Sudan, there is no Islamist entity that can be said to be democratic, just or a practitioner of good governance. The short rule of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt under the presidency of Mohamed Morsi was no exception. The Brotherhood tried to monopolize power, hound and intimidate the opposition and was driving the country toward a dangerous impasse before a violent military coup ended the brief experimentation with Islamist rule. Like the Islamists, the Arab nationalists—particularly the Baathists—were also fixated on a “renaissance” of past Arab greatness, which had once flourished in the famed cities of Damascus, Baghdad, Cairo and Córdoba in Al-Andalus, now Spain. These nationalists believed that Arab language and culture (and to a lesser extent Islam) were enough to unite disparate entities with different levels of social, political and cultural development. They were in denial that they lived in a far more diverse world. Those minorities that resisted the primacy of Arab identity were discriminated against, denied citizenship and basic rights, and in the case of the Kurds in Iraq were subjected to massive repression and killings of genocidal proportion. Under the guise of Arab nationalism the modern Arab despot (Saddam, Qaddafi, the Assads) emerged. But these men lived in splendid solitude, detached from their own people. (…) The dictators, always unpopular, opened the door to the Islamists’ rise when they proved just as incompetent as the monarchs they had replaced. That, again, came in 1967 after the crushing defeat of Nasserite Egypt and Baathist Syria at the hands of Israel. From that moment on Arab politics began to be animated by various Islamist parties and movements. The dictators, in their desperation to hold onto their waning power, only became more brutal in the 1980s and ‘90s. But the Islamists kept coming back in new and various shapes and stripes, only to be crushed again ever more ferociously. The year 1979 was a watershed moment for political Islam. An Islamic revolution exploded in Iran, provoked in part by decades of Western support for the corrupt shah. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and a group of bloody zealots occupied the Grand Mosque in Mecca for two weeks. After these cataclysmic events political Islam became more atavistic in its Sunni manifestations and more belligerent in its Shia manifestations. Saudi Arabia, in order to reassert its fundamentalist “wahhabi” ethos, became stricter in its application of Islamic law, and increased its financial aid to ultraconservative Islamists and their schools throughout the world. The Islamization of the war in Afghanistan against Soviet occupation—a project organized and financed by the United States, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan—triggered a tectonic change in the political map of South Asia and the Middle East. The Afghan war was the baptism of fire for terrorist outfits like the Egyptian Islamic Group and al Qaeda, the progenitors of the Islamic State. This decades-long struggle for legitimacy between the dictators and the Islamists meant that when the Arab Spring uprisings began in early 2011, there were no other political alternatives. You had only the Scylla of the national security state and the Charybdis of political Islam. (…) Yes, it is misleading to lump—as some do—all Islamist groups together, even though all are conservative in varying degrees. As terrorist organizations, al Qaeda and Islamic State are different from the Muslim Brotherhood, a conservative movement that renounced violence years ago, although it did dabble with violence in the past. Nonetheless, most of these groups do belong to the same family tree—and all of them stem from the Arabs’ civilizational ills. The Islamic State, like al Qaeda, is the tumorous creation of an ailing Arab body politic. Its roots run deep in the badlands of a tormented Arab world that seems to be slouching aimlessly through the darkness. It took the Arabs decades and generations to reach this nadir. It will take us a long time to recover—it certainly won’t happen in my lifetime. My generation of Arabs was told by both the Arab nationalists and the Islamists that we should man the proverbial ramparts to defend the “Arab World” against the numerous barbarians (imperialists, Zionists, Soviets) massing at the gates. Little did we know that the barbarians were already inside the gates, that they spoke our language and were already very well entrenched in the city. Hisham Melhem
Israel does not need the love of the Arabs nor does it need to convince them of its right to exist in their midst. It knows that its existence is outside the context of history and logic and that it came into being by force, it will live by force and it will die by force. Consequently, it will have to live with its finger on the trigger. (…) This background is important for Arab intellectuals and writers who, incomprehensibly, have been attacking the notion of resistance in the ongoing Israeli war against the Palestinians in Gaza. This strange phenomenon warrants analysis. Regrettably, the number of such intellectuals here in Saudi Arabia is higher than average. If such a trend continues it will destroy the kingdom’s honourable claim to support and defend the Palestinian cause since the time of its founder, King Abd Al-Aziz Al-Saud. We are only rivalled in this by the Egyptians, although they should not be taken too seriously because they are going through an exceptional phase that does not deserve much comment other than that we are waiting for it to pass. (…) The focus has to go back to Israel’s occupation to explain an Israeli war against the Palestinians that has not stopped for a single day since 1948. “It is meaningless to ask how the ongoing war on Gaza started,” wrote Dr Khalid Al-Dakhil last week. Did Hamas start it or Israel, he asked rhetorically, before answering his own question. “When did the Israeli war on all the Palestinians, including Gaza, stop? War is not always about firing shells or rockets or about the hell of cluster and phosphorous bombs. It is also about assassinations, the demolition of houses, the theft of land, the settlements, administrative detention, forced displacement and humiliation at checkpoints that are spread across the [occupied] Palestinian territories. It is also about bedevilling the victim by calling him a terrorist who refuses to recognise the right of a ‘Jewish state’ to exist.” From this perspective, said Al-Dakhil, the Israeli war on the Palestinians has never stopped since 1948. “All that happens is that this war at times adopts the form of a low intensity conflict while at other times it becomes an open military onslaught. Israel is always the one that decides when and how the transition is made from one form to the other.” (…)  the Palestinians in Gaza are in a large prison. They cannot leave their homeland even if they wanted to, because it is their homeland and because a racist, arrogant Israeli state controls the borders; our implicit acquiescence doesn’t help. So why are we seeing this sudden hostility towards the resistance? In my opinion, it is for one reason and one reason only. Such writers are embarrassed by the resistance groups and their rhetoric against them is their way of saying, “We surrendered long ago; why can’t you do the same?” Jamal Khashoggi
Despite all the rhetoric about the Palestinian issue, such as it being “the Arab’s first cause”; the central, principal, existential and mother of causes; the initiator of revolutions and coups; and the justification for astronomical military spending, and so on; despite all of this, we, as Arabs and for more than 70 years, have never seriously fought against Israel. Our wars with it were always brief and we always deployed in them more propaganda and speeches than dedicated military planning. We never prepared long or well for them and we never showed patience or endurance. Most of those wars were waged against us rather than us waging a jihad. Even the 1948 and 1973 wars, which were initiated by the Arabs, were brief, confused and with limited political objectives; they were nowhere near decisive liberation wars. (…) The Bosnians fought with the determination of a full “independence war”; they had to either win completely or be defeated completely. They dedicated all their effort, sacrifices, men and women for that war. (…) This is what the Divine has ordained would happen with any people who seek “full freedom”: Algeria, Vietnam, Ireland and Nazi-occupied Europe are all examples. Freedom comes at a cost; its price involves blood and death. (…) The Palestinian is the only one who has not fought a long war for freedom since his historic revolution in 1936, which was almost decisive; until the war raging in Gaza right now. (…) The Ramadan 1435 (2014 CE) War is a different type of war. It is a purely Palestinian war from start to finish. (…) Everything in this war is new, including the weapons that entered Gaza; how did they enter despite the siege? Thousands of rockets entered a small country that is besieged from the land, sea and air. This fact alone is a miracle. Some people thought the tunnels were for bringing in rice, sugar and diesel as well as a few machine-guns and some explosives. They were closed, destroyed and filled with water. Yet, tons of explosives came through and so did hundreds of rockets. Smuggling 7 metre-long Grad rockets was a miracle. How did they pass through? Did they come through the tunnels or by sea? Hamas possesses hundreds of them; how did they do it? No one can believe that it benefited from the year that deposed President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood were in power in Cairo. (…) The distinguished combat performance of its men and the huge network of tunnels that extends for miles under Gaza and the borders with Israel and Egypt were used brilliantly to inflict unprecedented losses on the enemy; they will be used and reused whenever the enemy invades. All of this proves that the movement wasted no time while ruling in Gaza. (…) Another significant accomplishment made by this stubborn Palestinian combatant has been the national unity shown by the people of Gaza and their readiness to sacrifice; their readiness to die rather than return to a humiliating life under an inhumane siege. The Israelis are left with nothing but the complete destruction of the whole of Gaza. However, who can finish off a million Palestinians? The other new and important thing is that the Palestinian today is, unlike in previous Arab wars, the one imposing ceasefire conditions. He has nothing left to lose. (…) Direct occupation is not in the Israeli interest and the Palestinian combatant knows this very well and is using it for his own good. This is truly a new fact. The new thing, above all, is that the Palestinian is ready for a long, long fight. (…) Had the late Bosnian leader Alia Izetbegovic surrendered earlier, having been wounded severely and having seen his people die in their thousands in massacres perpetrated in front of the entire world, even under formal European protection, then US President Bill Clinton would not have moved in August 1995 against Europe’s wishes and led NATO to bomb the Serbs and force them to come to the negotiating table to accept the independence of Bosnia Hercegovina. No one will bomb Israel. But should the Palestinian hold fast this time, the peace negotiations, which failed several months ago despite the eagerness and optimism shown by US Secretary of State John Kerry, will get more serious and will cover the real causes of the war in Gaza; and will cover the occupation and the siege not only in Gaza but in the West Bank too. At that moment, the Arabs would have to join the stubborn Palestinian combatant, aiding and supporting him, and should forget everything they said and did or did not do during this time of Arab decline. Jamal Khashoggi
We are told [Khashoggi] was a liberal, Saudi progressive voice fighting for freedom and democracy, and a martyr who paid the ultimate price for telling the truth to power. (…) In truth, Khashoggi never had much time for western-style pluralistic democracy. In the 1970s he joined the Muslim Brotherhood, which exists to rid the Islamic world of western influence. He was a political Islamist until the end, recently praising the Muslim Brotherhood in the Washington Post. He championed the ‘moderate’ Islamist opposition in Syria, whose crimes against humanity are a matter of record. Khashoggi frequently sugarcoated his Islamist beliefs with constant references to freedom and democracy. But he never hid that he was in favour of a Muslim Brotherhood arc throughout the Middle East. His recurring plea to bin Salman in his columns was to embrace not western-style democracy, but the rise of political Islam which the Arab Spring had inadvertently given rise to. For Khashoggi, secularism was the enemy. (…) It was Yasin Aktay — a former MP for Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) — whom Khashoggi told his fiancée to call if he did not emerge from the consulate. The AKP is, in effect, the Turkish branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. His most trusted friend, then, was an adviser to President Erdogan, who is fast becoming known as the most vicious persecutor of journalists on earth. Khashoggi never meaningfully criticised Erdogan. So we ought not to see this as the assassination of a liberal reformer. Khashoggi had this undeserved status in the West because of the publicity surrounding his sacking as editor of the Saudi daily Al Watan back in 2003. (I broke the news of his removal for Reuters. (…) He was dismissed because he allowed a columnist to criticise an Islamist thinker considered to be the founding father of Wahhabism. Thus, overnight, Khashoggi became known as a liberal progressive. The Muslim Brotherhood, though, has always been at odds with the Wahhabi movement. Khashoggi and his fellow travellers believe in imposing Islamic rule by engaging in the democratic process. The Wahhabis loathe democracy as a western invention. Instead, they choose to live life as it supposedly existed during the time of the Muslim prophet. In the final analysis, though, they are different means to achieving the same goal: Islamist theocracy. This matters because, although bin Salman has rejected Wahhabism — to the delight of the West — he continues to view the Muslim Brotherhood as the main threat most likely to derail his vision for a new Saudi Arabia. Most of the Islamic clerics in Saudi Arabia who have been imprisoned over the past two years — Khashoggi’s friends — have historic ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Khashoggi had therefore emerged as a de facto leader of the Saudi branch. Due to his profile and influence, he was the biggest political threat to bin Salman’s rule outside of the royal family. Worse, from the royals’ point of view, was that Khashoggi had dirt on Saudi links to al Qaeda before the 9/11 attacks. He had befriended Osama bin Laden in the 1980s and 1990s in Afghanistan and Sudan while championing his jihad against the Soviets in dispatches. At that same time, he was employed by the Saudi intelligence services to try to persuade bin Laden to make peace with the Saudi royal family. The result? Khashoggi was the only non-royal Saudi who had the beef on the royals’ intimate dealing with al Qaeda in the lead-up to the 9/11 attacks. That would have been crucial if he had escalated his campaign to undermine the crown prince. Like the Saudi royals, Khashoggi dissociated himself from bin Laden after 9/11 (…). But he then teamed up as an adviser to the Saudi ambassador to London and then Washington, Prince Turki Al Faisal. The latter had been Saudi intelligence chief from 1977 until just ten days before the 9/11 attacks, when he inexplicably resigned. Once again, by working alongside Prince Turki during the latter’s ambassadorial stints, as he had while reporting on bin Laden, Khashoggi mixed with British, US and Saudi intelligence officials. In short, he was uniquely able to acquire invaluable inside information. (…) Perhaps it was for this and other reasons — and working according to the dictum of keeping your enemies closer — that a few weeks ago, according to a friend of Khashoggi, bin Salman had made a traditional tribal offer of reconciliation — offering him a place as an adviser if he returned to the kingdom. Khashoggi had declined because of ‘moral and religious’ principles. And that may have been the fatal snub, not least because Khashoggi had earlier this year established a new political party in the US called Democracy for the Arab World Now, which would support Islamist gains in democratic elections throughout the region. Bin Salman’s nightmare of a Khashoggi-led Islamist political opposition was about to become a reality. The West has been fawning over bin Salman. But how now to overlook what seems to be a brazen Mafia-style murder? ‘I don’t like hearing about it,’ Donald Trump said. ‘Nobody knows anything about it, but there’s some pretty bad stories going around. I do not like it.’ Well, there are plenty more stories where that came from, stories about a ruthless prince whose opponents have a habit of disappearing. The fate of Khashoggi is the latest sign of what’s really happening inside Saudi Arabia. For how much longer will our leaders look the other way? John R. Bradley

Vous avez dit réformateur libéral frériste ?

« Patriote solitaire », « intellectuel engagé », « trublion », « dissident »

Alors qu’avec l’élimination d’un de ses citoyens avec tous les raffinements que l’on sait (découpage de doigts, décapitation et démembrement à la scie à os) …

La famille désormais littéralement mafieuse des Saoud vient de confirmer sa longue réputation de barbarie d’un autre âge …

Et que nos médias n’ont pas de mots assez durs pour dénoncer les larmes de crocodile de nos dirigeants …

Comme de mots assez doux pour qualifier ce nouveau martyr de la démocratie dans le Monde arabe …

Retour avec l’ancien correspondant à Ryhad de l’Economist John R. Bradley qui a bien connu celui-ci …

Ainsi qu’avec deux de ses propres articles pour le journal Al Hayat

Sur les exploits injustement oubliés de ce « réformateur libéral » et accessoirement membre du parti des intermittents de la conduite de tramway

Qui pompom girl à ses heures perdues de la guerre du Hamas contre Israël …

N’avait pas ménagé sa peine pour rappeler à ses compatriotes et au monde il y a quatre ans à peine …

L’ « existence en dehors du contexte de l’histoire et de la logique » …

D’un pays qui « né par la force », vivra et mourra par la force » …

Death of a dissident: Saudi Arabia and the rise of the mobster state

What the media aren’t saying about Jamal Khashoggi

John R. Bradley

13 October 2018

As someone who spent three decades working closely with intelligence services in the Arab world and the West, the Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi knew he was taking a huge risk in entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week to try to obtain a document certifying he had divorced his ex-wife.

A one-time regime insider turned critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — the de facto head of the Saudi kingdom which tolerates no criticism whatsoever — Khashoggi had been living in Washington for the previous year in self-imposed exile amid a crackdown on independent voices in his homeland.

He had become the darling of western commentators on the Middle East. With almost two million Twitter followers, he was the most famous political pundit in the Arab world and a regular guest on the major TV news networks in Britain and the United States. Would the Saudis dare to cause him harm? It turns out that the answer to that question was ‘You betcha.’

Following uneventful visits to the consulate and, earlier, the Saudi embassy in Washington, Khashoggi was lured into a murderous plan so brazen, so barbaric, that it would seem far-fetched as a subplot in a John le Carré novel. He went inside the Istanbul consulate, but failed to emerge. Turkish police and intelligence officials claimed that a team of 15 hitmen carrying Saudi diplomatic passports arrived the same morning on two private jets. Their convoy of limousines arrived at the consulate building shortly before Khashoggi did.

Their not-so-secret mission? To torture, then execute, Khashoggi, and videotape the ghastly act for whoever had given the order for his merciless dispatch. Khashoggi’s body, Turkish officials say, was dismembered and packed into boxes before being whisked away in a black van with darkened windows. The assassins fled the country.

Saudi denials were swift. The ambassador to Washington said reports that Saudi authorities had killed Khashoggi were ‘absolutely false’. But under the circumstances — with his fiancée waiting for him, and no security cameras finding any trace of his leaving the embassy — the world is left wondering if bin Salman directed this murder. When another Saudi official chimed in that ‘with no body, there is no crime’, it was unclear whether he was being ironic. Is this great reforming prince, with aims the West applauds, using brutal methods to dispose of his enemies? What we have learned so far is far from encouraging. A Turkish newspaper close to the government this week published the photographs and names of the alleged Saudi hitmen, and claims to have identified three of them as members of bin Salman’s personal protection team.

There are also reports in the American media that all surveillance footage was removed from the consulate building, and that all local Turkish employees there were suddenly given the day off. According to the New York Times, among the assassination team was the kingdom’s top forensic expert, who brought a bone saw to dismember Khashoggi’s body. None of this has yet been independently verified, but a very dark narrative is emerging.

In many respects, bin Salman’s regime has been revolutionary: he has let women drive, sided with Israel against Iran and curtailed the religious police. When Boris Johnson was foreign secretary, he said that bin Salman was the best thing to happen to the region in at least a decade, that the style of government of this 33-year-old prince was utterly different. But the cruelty and the bloodletting have not stopped. Saudi Arabia still carries out many public beheadings and other draconian corporal punishments. It continues to wage a war in Yemen which has killed at least 10,000 civilians.

Princes and businessmen caught up in a corruption crackdown are reported to have been tortured; Shia demonstrators have been mowed down in the streets and had their villages reduced to rubble; social media activists have been sentenced to thousands of lashes; families of overseas-based activists have been arbitrarily arrested. In an attempt to justify this, bin Salman said this week he was ‘trying to get rid of extremism and terrorism without civil war, without stopping the country from growing, with continuous progress in all elements,’ adding: ‘So if there is a small price in that area, it’s better than paying a big debt to do that move.’

The fate of Khashoggi has at least provoked global outrage, but it’s for all the wrong reasons. We are told he was a liberal, Saudi progressive voice fighting for freedom and democracy, and a martyr who paid the ultimate price for telling the truth to power. This is not just wrong, but distracts us from understanding what the incident tells us about the internal power dynamics of a kingdom going through an unprecedented period of upheaval. It is also the story of how one man got entangled in a Saudi ruling family that operates like the Mafia. Once you join, it’s for life, and if you try to leave, you become disposable.

In truth, Khashoggi never had much time for western-style pluralistic democracy. In the 1970s he joined the Muslim Brotherhood, which exists to rid the Islamic world of western influence. He was a political Islamist until the end, recently praising the Muslim Brotherhood in the Washington Post. He championed the ‘moderate’ Islamist opposition in Syria, whose crimes against humanity are a matter of record. Khashoggi frequently sugarcoated his Islamist beliefs with constant references to freedom and democracy. But he never hid that he was in favour of a Muslim Brotherhood arc throughout the Middle East. His recurring plea to bin Salman in his columns was to embrace not western-style democracy, but the rise of political Islam which the Arab Spring had inadvertently given rise to. For Khashoggi, secularism was the enemy.

He had been a journalist in the 1980s and 1990s, but then became more of a player than a spectator. Before working with a succession of Saudi princes, he edited Saudi newspapers. The exclusive remit a Saudi government–appointed newspaper editor has is to ensure nothing remotely resembling honest journalism makes it into the pages. Khashoggi put the money in the bank — making a handsome living was always his top priority. Actions, anyway, speak louder than words.

It was Yasin Aktay — a former MP for Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) — whom Khashoggi told his fiancée to call if he did not emerge from the consulate. The AKP is, in effect, the Turkish branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. His most trusted friend, then, was an adviser to President Erdogan, who is fast becoming known as the most vicious persecutor of journalists on earth. Khashoggi never meaningfully criticised Erdogan. So we ought not to see this as the assassination of a liberal reformer.

Khashoggi had this undeserved status in the West because of the publicity surrounding his sacking as editor of the Saudi daily Al Watan back in 2003. (I broke the news of his removal for Reuters. I’d worked alongside Khashoggi at the Saudi daily Arab News during the preceding years.) He was dismissed because he allowed a columnist to criticise an Islamist thinker considered to be the founding father of Wahhabism. Thus, overnight, Khashoggi became known as a liberal progressive.

The Muslim Brotherhood, though, has always been at odds with the Wahhabi movement. Khashoggi and his fellow travellers believe in imposing Islamic rule by engaging in the democratic process. The Wahhabis loathe democracy as a western invention. Instead, they choose to live life as it supposedly existed during the time of the Muslim prophet. In the final analysis, though, they are different means to achieving the same goal: Islamist theocracy. This matters because, although bin Salman has rejected Wahhabism — to the delight of the West — he continues to view the Muslim Brotherhood as the main threat most likely to derail his vision for a new Saudi Arabia. Most of the Islamic clerics in Saudi Arabia who have been imprisoned over the past two years — Khashoggi’s friends — have historic ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Khashoggi had therefore emerged as a de facto leader of the Saudi branch. Due to his profile and influence, he was the biggest political threat to bin Salman’s rule outside of the royal family.

Worse, from the royals’ point of view, was that Khashoggi had dirt on Saudi links to al Qaeda before the 9/11 attacks. He had befriended Osama bin Laden in the 1980s and 1990s in Afghanistan and Sudan while championing his jihad against the Soviets in dispatches. At that same time, he was employed by the Saudi intelligence services to try to persuade bin Laden to make peace with the Saudi royal family. The result? Khashoggi was the only non-royal Saudi who had the beef on the royals’ intimate dealing with al Qaeda in the lead-up to the 9/11 attacks. That would have been crucial if he had escalated his campaign to undermine the crown prince.

Like the Saudi royals, Khashoggi dissociated himself from bin Laden after 9/11 (which Khashoggi and I watched unfold together in the Arab News office in Jeddah). But he then teamed up as an adviser to the Saudi ambassador to London and then Washington, Prince Turki Al Faisal. The latter had been Saudi intelligence chief from 1977 until just ten days before the 9/11 attacks, when he inexplicably resigned. Once again, by working alongside Prince Turki during the latter’s ambassadorial stints, as he had while reporting on bin Laden, Khashoggi mixed with British, US and Saudi intelligence officials. In short, he was uniquely able to acquire invaluable inside information.

The Saudis, too, may have worried that Khashoggi had become a US asset. In Washington in 2005, a senior Pentagon official told me of a ridiculous plan they had to take ‘the Saudi out of Arabia’ (as was the rage post-9/11). It involved establishing a council of selected Saudi figures in Mecca to govern the country under US auspices after the US took control of the oil. He named three Saudis the Pentagon team were in regular contact with regarding the project. One of them was Khashoggi. A fantasy, certainly, but it shows how highly he was regarded by those imagining a different Saudi Arabia.

Perhaps it was for this and other reasons — and working according to the dictum of keeping your enemies closer — that a few weeks ago, according to a friend of Khashoggi, bin Salman had made a traditional tribal offer of reconciliation — offering him a place as an adviser if he returned to the kingdom. Khashoggi had declined because of ‘moral and religious’ principles. And that may have been the fatal snub, not least because Khashoggi had earlier this year established a new political party in the US called Democracy for the Arab World Now, which would support Islamist gains in democratic elections throughout the region. Bin Salman’s nightmare of a Khashoggi-led Islamist political opposition was about to become a reality.

The West has been fawning over bin Salman. But how now to overlook what seems to be a brazen Mafia-style murder? ‘I don’t like hearing about it,’ Donald Trump said. ‘Nobody knows anything about it, but there’s some pretty bad stories going around. I do not like it.’ Well, there are plenty more stories where that came from, stories about a ruthless prince whose opponents have a habit of disappearing. The fate of Khashoggi is the latest sign of what’s really happening inside Saudi Arabia. For how much longer will our leaders look the other way?

John R. Bradley is the author of Saudi Arabia Exposed: Inside a Kingdom in Crisis, published by St Martin’s Press.

Palestine, the occupation and the resistance for beginners

Jamal Khashoggi

In March 1955, an Israeli army unit attacked a camp belonging to the Egyptian army inside the Gaza Strip, which was entrusted to Egypt after the 1948 war. The Israelis killed 36 Egyptian soldiers in cold blood and wounded 28 others. One of the perpetrators was the infamous Ariel Sharon, the late Israeli prime minister, who said that the purpose of the operation was “to kill all the soldiers, destroy all the weapons that were available inside the camp and destroy its entire installations.” According to a once-secret Israel report made public a few years ago, it was a punitive objective, not military, “to deliver a message to the Egyptian leadership under Gamal Abdel Nasser that any new commando operation [by Egypt] will have bloody consequences.”

Nasser learned the painful lesson and called off the operations that were carried out by Egyptian intelligence units. Such operations have always puzzled historians because during that same period he was in contact with Israeli Prime Minister Moshe Sharett about making peace between the two countries. The Egyptian president later tightened his iron grip on Gaza and prevented and pursued any Palestinian who contemplated resistance. Compare that with the current situation in the Gaza Strip.

Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion set up a military doctrine for his country to deal with the surrounding Arab states which did not recognise it; he called this “incremental deterrence”. The doctrine did not tolerate any resistance operations and responded with incremental and brutal force so that the Arab states would realise that they have no choice; they could accept or reject Israel, but they had to stop all forms of resistance. The result was the same either way. Israel does not need the love of the Arabs nor does it need to convince them of its right to exist in their midst. It knows that its existence is outside the context of history and logic and that it came into being by force, it will live by force and it will die by force. Consequently, it will have to live with its finger on the trigger.

A glance at the history of Israel and the Palestinian resistance will prove that this doctrine is still alive. It is exactly what the current Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is implementing so faithfully in Gaza today, in the footsteps of his predecessors. In brief, and in accordance with Ben-Gurion’s doctrine, Israel will continue to persecute the Palestinians in Gaza until they give up resistance, just as the others have.

The problem is that Israel wants the Arabs to change while it does not change itself. The other constant factor, which renders the acceptance of Israel and succumbing to the status quo extremely bitter, is the Israeli occupation. Enjoying American political and military cover, Israel deals with its occupation with a combination of racism and arrogance. The negotiations encouraged by US Secretary of State John Kerry failed precisely because of the Israeli stance towards the occupation, which it seeks to legitimise. However, it is not even acceptable to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah despite it having succumbed to the status quo and to financial gains and privileges, let alone to the much-maligned Hamas. In as much as this renders peace impossible it also renders capitulation likewise.

This background is important for Arab intellectuals and writers who, incomprehensibly, have been attacking the notion of resistance in the ongoing Israeli war against the Palestinians in Gaza. This strange phenomenon warrants analysis. Regrettably, the number of such intellectuals here in Saudi Arabia is higher than average. If such a trend continues it will destroy the kingdom’s honourable claim to support and defend the Palestinian cause since the time of its founder, King Abd Al-Aziz Al-Saud. We are only rivalled in this by the Egyptians, although they should not be taken too seriously because they are going through an exceptional phase that does not deserve much comment other than that we are waiting for it to pass.

These intellectual and writers have jumped crudely on the Palestinian resistance groups, blaming and denouncing them “for not realising the difference in power between them and the Israelis” and “for seeking to alleviate the pressure on the Iranians”. Worse still, some claim that “everything taking place is nothing but a PR campaign to regain sympathy for political Islam.” They are wrong.

The focus has to go back to Israel’s occupation to explain an Israeli war against the Palestinians that has not stopped for a single day since 1948. “It is meaningless to ask how the ongoing war on Gaza started,” wrote Dr Khalid Al-Dakhil last week. Did Hamas start it or Israel, he asked rhetorically, before answering his own question. “When did the Israeli war on all the Palestinians, including Gaza, stop? War is not always about firing shells or rockets or about the hell of cluster and phosphorous bombs. It is also about assassinations, the demolition of houses, the theft of land, the settlements, administrative detention, forced displacement and humiliation at checkpoints that are spread across the [occupied] Palestinian territories. It is also about bedevilling the victim by calling him a terrorist who refuses to recognise the right of a ‘Jewish state’ to exist.” From this perspective, said Al-Dakhil, the Israeli war on the Palestinians has never stopped since 1948. “All that happens is that this war at times adopts the form of a low intensity conflict while at other times it becomes an open military onslaught. Israel is always the one that decides when and how the transition is made from one form to the other.”

On that March morning in 1955, there was no Iran and no political Islam to use as an excuse, just a young Egyptian leader who wanted to negotiate with the Israelis and pressure them through the weapon of resistance. He was subjected to some of what Hamas is being subjected to today. He succumbed to the status quo and abandoned Gaza and the whole of Palestine. Now the Palestinians in Gaza are in a large prison. They cannot leave their homeland even if they wanted to, because it is their homeland and because a racist, arrogant Israeli state controls the borders; our implicit acquiescence doesn’t help.

So why are we seeing this sudden hostility towards the resistance? In my opinion, it is for one reason and one reason only. Such writers are embarrassed by the resistance groups and their rhetoric against them is their way of saying, “We surrendered long ago; why can’t you do the same?”

Translated from Al Hayat newspaper, 19 July, 2014

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