Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Death of Muammar Gaddafi and Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud: A Tale of Two Obituaries

Commentaries on the death of Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud (of Saudi Arabia) sharply contrasts with that of the death of Libya's Muammar Gaddafi. US/NATO just had to help the people of Libya against his evil rule. We all know how crazy Gaddafi was. He had virgin female body guards, funded international terrorism, claimed he was not the leader of Libya while functioning as absolute leader of Libya, killed his own people and constantly said outrageous statements. This is the standard analysis given regarding Gaddafi's legacy. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud was a wise monarch that prudently built up his country militarily: a good statesman in fact.

Even Al Jazeera favors the late crown prince over Gaddafi. I once read on my former professor As'ad AbuKhalil's blog site (the Angry Arab) an interesting observation. He pointed out that Al Jazeera generally has made severe statements about regimes facing revolutions in Arab republics and near silence, or less severe criticism, towards Arab monarchies. This makes sense understanding that Al Jazeera is located in monarchical Qatar. Al Jazeera wrote this a month ago:
Calling themselves the 'Friends of Libya,' 63 world leaders met in Paris on Thursday to discuss the country's future.

Among them, the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani. Al-Thani admits that Muammar Gaddafi could not have been toppled without NATO, but he did point out the Arab League could have done more.

Qatar was the first Arab nation to support the allied forces and send its jets into Libya; a move praised by Western leaders who said the intervention was a turning point for the region.
Oh!I forgot to mention the Emir's monetary donations to Al Jazeera. This may have added a little bias.

It is notable that France, Britain and the US intervened to topple Gaddafi and simultaneously continue to sell so many weapons to Saudi Arabia. Trevor Mostyn of The Guardian writes:
Sultan created a massive military establishment in Saudi Arabia through arms purchases from the US, the UK and France. He built military cities, largely with US support. However, the massive British-supported defence programme was also crucial.
Telling is also the media silence about what Saudi Arabia does with their military aid in places such as Bahrain.

Was Gaddafi more "crazy" and tyrannical than the current Saudi Arabian Wahhabi rule overseen by the late Sultan? In 2002 The Guardian wrote a story on the more "sane" Saudi kingdom:
Saudi Arabia's religious police stopped schoolgirls from leaving a blazing building because they were not wearing correct Islamic dress, according to Saudi newspapers...One witness said he saw three policemen "beating young girls to prevent them from leaving the school because they were not wearing the abaya".

The Saudi Gazette quoted witnesses as saying that the police - known as the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice - had stopped men who tried to help the girls and warned "it is a sinful to approach them".

The father of one of the dead girls said that the school watchman even refused to open the gates to let the girls out.

"Lives could have been saved had they not been stopped by members of the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice," the newspaper concluded.
I don't see US/NATO zooming in to help Saudi girls anytime soon. Of course it is not clear how NATO's "help" will really help the new Libya just yet. I send all my hopes and wishes to the Libyan people in this post-Qaddafi era and to the Saudis in their continued Wahhabist one.


1 comment:

Devin Z. Shaw said...

Joshua, I changed those footnotes to embedded links.