A prominent Beirut-based analyst says that the Al Saud regime is trying to export its terrorism-associated Wahhabi ideology to other Middle Earsten countries to ward off the popular pro-democracy movemnet in its soil.
The Saudi Monarch, Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz has reportedly slipped into a coma and is clinically dead nearly a week after a 14-hour-long back surgery in a hospital in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. The Saudi king, who was taken to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of a Riyadh hospital following his surgery, has gone into a coma and has been living with the help of a ventilator over the past two days, a Saudi journalist at the London-based Asharq Alawsat said. Failing health, old age as well as the deaths of the king’s half-brothers have raised concerns about the future of the oil-rich country in the face of anti-government demonstrations.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Fouad Ibrahim, author of Shiites of Saudi Arabia from the Lebanese capital city of Beirut to shed more light on the issue at hand. He is joined by two additional guests on Press TV’s News Analysis program: Ali Al Ahmad, director of IGA from Washington and Chris Bambery, author and Middle East expert from London. What follows is an approximate transcription of the interview.
Press TV: Where is the Saudi king?
Ibrahim: Well, apparently King Abdullah is suffering from very bad health condition; he is still in hospital under very strict monitoring from the royal family, from a certain number, a very limited number of princes. I think his absence since his appearance in 26th [of November], it appears like he is suffering from very bad health condition but it seems like their insistence to bring King Abdullah to the screen was not a very good choice for those who decided to prove that he is still alive but apparently they proved another thing which is that he is not capable of running the state. That is why he went to absence again and I think there is uncertainty regarding his health condition and we believe that…
Press TV: How serious, Mr. Ibrahim, do you think the protest movemnet, actually, is? And is it going to be able to bring about any dramatic change?
Ibrahim: Well, I think that the protests now are growing and are spreading to so many places in the kingdom and this is what makes the royal family in high alert and regarding this kind of movemnet which is unprecedented especially in areas which were classified as a quiet area, regions which are loyal to the royal family; like Riyadh and Jeddah and I believe that this kind of protest, if it grows and it will definitely grow, I think that the political scene will dramatically change and the royal family will be in a very bad situation because we have not seen this kind of protest long time ago [for a long time] although there are religious rulings, which forbid demonstrations and they consider such actions as religiously forbidden; but I think the people who are breaking this taboo will definitely lead to widespread changes in the whole country and I believe that the protests will …
Press TV: We know that Saudi troops were directly involved in Bahrain, they still are in Bahrain, we know that the Yemeni people now are on the streets saying that Saudi Arabia is interfering in their affairs; our guest there [Chris Bambery] saying that Saudi interference in Libya, in Egypt.
Basically how do you think this regional role is affecting the stability of Saudi Arabia itself?
Ibrahim:Well, I believe that the Saudi involvement in Bahrain, Yemen, Egypt, Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East is part of their strategy to defend themselves, to deter any change or any consequences of the Arab revolutions or Arab Spring in their country. So they need to neutralize decent revolutions to not to have an impact on their country.
So they did the best they could, they poured billions of dollars to militarize groups in Syria and in Yemen and they deployed their troops to Bahrain. So their policy and strategy is to protect themselves from the consequences of the Arab Spring.
And I believe that they will pay a heavy price because Arab Spring now is in their land and is in their soil and the people are interacting with the development in the Middle East and the people are creating their own spring through social media, which are facebook and other means and I believe that as my colleague in Washington, Ali al-Ahmed, said 2013 will have a very different impact on Saudi Arabia and we will see a new form of protests could lead to a popular revolution and revolutionary changes in this country.
Press TV: Mr. Ibrahim when we speak about Saudi Arabia, for some that is synonymous with Wahhabism. A lot of people are saying that this is not the religion that the majority of the people in Saudi Arabia, actually, follow however this is the belief or the religion, so to speak, that is being exported out of Saudi Arabia and reaching countries like Syria, Yemen, Egypt, etc.
How strong do you think that Wahhabism issue is and is the United States giving support to the Wahhabi ideology?
Ibrahim: Well, I think that the reality is that Wahhabism represents only 20 percent of the whole population in Saudi Arabia. Those who belong to Wahhabism are very minority just like other denominations and sects.
With regard to the spread of Wahhabism to Syria, Yemen and other parts of the Middle East; I think it is not a healthy phenomenon for Saudi Arabia and for the Middle East as a whole because Wahhabism is associated with extremism, with terrorism and now is undermining the democratic transition in Syria and now I can tell you that those ho claim that they want Syria to be or to transform into a democratic state are now reassessing their views and they try to rethink again the future of Syria because with the involvement of al-Qaeda and some other groups who are associated with Wahhabism are creating fears among the majority of the Syrians and even the majority of the Middle Eastern regimes and even among the Western allies who support the militants and groups who are now fighting the regime in Syria.
They are now rethinking that with the fall of the Syrian regime they will witness a new Wahhabi and a new al-Qaeda regime…