Sunday, October 08, 2006

Signs of a latent Saudi-Israeli alliance to confront Iran

Israeli Prime Minister Olmert held a lengthy secret meeting with highly-placed members of the Saudi royal family during mid-September, according to reports in the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahrunoth on Sept 25. The reports said the meeting had the approval of the US, and was triggered by growing Saudi anxiety about Iran as a military threat. The Israeli newspaper called this an historic development in the Israeli-Saudi relationship. Saudi and Israeli officials officially denied the reports of the meeting, and officials in Jordan (later reported as the country where the meeting was held) have denied the Jordanian king helped arrange the meeting. But there seems to be a consensus in the media that the meeting did occur, and big question being which side leaked the report and why.

Abdul Bari Atwan of Al-Quds al-Arabi offers the following solution to the puzzle.

Starting a few months ago, there have been the following early indicators of a progressive Saudi approach to Israel:

(1) Prince Turki bin Faisal, Saudi ambassador to the US, gave an interview to an Israeli newspaper at the spring 2006 meeting of the Davos group in Sharm el Sheikh, in which he offered Olmert advice on how to settle with the Palestinians. Then about a month later, he made a widely-publicized statement advising the Palestinians to adopt the tactics of Mahatma Gandhi, and to give up armed resistance.

(3) In July, there was the surprising initial criticism by Saudi Arabia of Hizbollah for triggering the problem by taking the Israeli soldiers, without any criticism of Israel, even though it was bombing Beirut and other Lebanese targets at the time. Olmert publicly priased the Saudis for saying this, noting it was the first time that an Arab regime had backed Israel in a war.

(4) The BBC, in a late-August edition of its NewsNight TV program, broadcast a taped report that included remarks by Mamoun Fandy, a writer (and columnist for Atwan's competitor Asharq al-Awsat newspaper) who is close to the Saudi king and sometimes described as an adviser to the Saudi king. Fandy said there was a meeting in Washington July 23 (during he war) that included in addition to Rice and Bush, the following three: Saud bin Faisal the Saudi Foreign Minister; Turki bin Faisal the ambassador to the US; and Prince Bandar bin Sultan, former ambassador to the US, and now head of the Saudi national security council. Fendi said one of these three authorized him to repeat the following parts of the discussion, namely that the Saudis told Bush that the Mideast country that has historically offered the most valuable services to their country has been Israel, citing its role in the defeat of major Saudi enemies Gamal Abdul Nassar in the 1967 war; Saddam Hussein via their lobbying in support of the US attack; and their current efforts against Hizbullah, "also a bitter enemy" of Saudi Arabia. The other remark was that Saudi Arabia and the Bush administration are "on the same page" as far as the current regional state of affairs is concerned, a clear reference to targeting the current main Saudi adversary Iran.

So the September meeting between Olmert and members of the Saudi royal family in Amman was a logical development of this relationship of latent Saudi-Israeli alliance, the escalation in the relationship being a reflection of growing Saudi anxiety about Iran as a military threat.

Atwan thinks that makes the question of who leaked the news relatively easy to solve. The Saudis have always relied on absolute secrecy where details of their cooperation with the US has been concerned, for instance with respect to logistical help in the attack on Iraq. It is a fixed characteristic of the way they operate. The Israelis, on the other hand, to use Atwan's expression, have always preferred, when Arab states "come looking for love, that the relationship be a legal and an open one." This tactic of secret meetings followed by disclosure is one they have followed with any number of other Arab regimes, and the situation is no different here.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The grip of the Majlis-e-ittehadul Muslimeen on the community remains strong, despite minor dents.
WITH A Member representing Hyderabad in the Lok Sabha, five members in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly, 40 corporators in Hyderabad and 95-plus members elected to various municipal bodies in Andhra Pradesh, the All-India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen is one of the foremost representatives of the city’s Muslims and the most powerful Muslim party in India and one can see the partys strenghth if it goes to Hyderabads Old city everywhere u look u can see MIM written on walls ,lightpoles and buildings leaving aside flags and posters of its Leadership. The Majlis has brought lot of development to the Old part of the city even after it is said it hasnt done anything by its opponents who are mostly Ex Majlis workers.
The Majlis was formed in 1927 “for educational and social uplift of Muslims”. But it articulated the position that “the ruler and throne (Nizam) are symbols of the political and cultural rights of the Muslim community… (and) this status must continue forever”.
The Majlis pitted itself against the Andhra Mahasabha and the communists who questioned the feudal order that sustained the Nizam’s rule. It also bitterly opposed the Arya Samaj, which gave social and cultural expression to the aspirations of the urban Hindu population in the Hyderabad State of those days.
By the mid-1940s, the Majlis had come to represent a remarkably aggressive and violent face of Muslim communal politics as it organised the razakars (volunteers) to defend the “independence” of this “Muslim” State from merger with the Indian Union.
According to historians, over 1,50,000 such `volunteers’ were organised by the Majlis for the Nizam State’s defence but they are remembered for unleashing unparalleled violence against Hindu populations, the communists and all those who opposed the Nizam’s “go it alone” policy. It is estimated that during the height of the razakar `agitation’, over 30,000 people had taken shelter in the Secunderabad cantonment alone to protect themselves from these `volunteers’.
But the razakars could do little against the Indian Army and did not even put up a fight. Kasim Rizvi, the Majlis leader, was imprisoned and the organisation banned in 1948. Rizvi was released in 1957 on the undertaking that he would leave for Pakistan in 48 hours. Before he left though, Rizvi met some of the erstwhile activists of the Majlis and passed on the presidentship to Abdul Wahed Owaisi, a famous lawyer and an Islamic scholar who also was jailed for nearly 10 months after he took over the Majlis leadership as the then govt wanted to abolish the Majlis party but Owaisi refused to do so and was seen as a person who had financially supported the party when it was a bankrupt and weak one after the Police Action in Hyderabad State.
Owaisi is credited with having “re-written” the Majlis constitution according to the provisions of the Indian Constitution and “the realities of Muslim minority in independent India”, according to a former journalist, Chander Srivastava. For the first decade-and-a-half after this “reinvention”, the Majlis remained, at best, a marginal player in Hyderabad politics and even though every election saw a rise in its vote share, it could not win more than one Assembly seat.
The 1970s saw an upswing in Majlis’ political fortunes. In 1969, it won back its party headquarters, Dar-us-Salaam — a sprawling 4.5-acre compound in the heart of the New City. It also won compensation which was used to set up an ITI on the premises and a women’s degree college in Nizamabad town. In 1976, Salahuddin Owaisi took over the presidentship of the Majlis after his father’s demise.
This started an important phase in the history of the Majlis as it continued expanding its educational institutions,Hospitals,Banks, including the first Muslim minority Engineering College and Medical College. Courses in MBA, MCA ,Nursing, Pharmacy and other professional degrees followed and now a daily newspaper known as Etemaad Daily. The 1970s were also a watershed in Majlis’ history as after a long period of 31 years, Hyderabad witnessed large-scale communal rioting in 1979. The Majlis came to the forefront in “defending” Muslim life and property Majlis workers could be seen at these moments defending the properties of Muslims in the wake of riots and these workers were very hard even for the police to control them even now it is a known fact that there are nearly about 2500 units of strong members who only act if there is a seirous threat to the Owaisi family and these members are under the direct orders of the Owaisi family which leads the Majlis party leaving aside thousands of workers and informers throughout the State and even outside the country far away till America and the Gulf countries.
Salahuddin Owaisi, also known as “Salar-e-Millat” (commander of the community), has repeatedly alleged in his speeches that the Indian state has “abandoned” the Muslims to their fate. Therefore, “Muslims should stand on their own feet, rather than look to the State for help’’, he argues.
This policy has been an unambiguous success in leveraging the Majlis today to its position of being practically the “sole spokesman” of the Muslims in Hyderabad and its environs.
Voting figures show this clearly. From 58,000 votes in the 1962 Lok Sabha elections for the Hyderabad seat, Majlis votes rose to 1,12,000 in 1980. The clear articulation of this “stand on one’s feet” policy in education and `protection’ during riots doubled its vote-share by 1984. Salahuddin Owaisi won the seat for the first time, polling 2.22 lakh votes. This vote-share doubled in the 1989 Lok Sabha elections to over four lakhs.
The Majlis has since continued its hold on the Hyderabad seat winning about five-and-a-half lakh votes each time.
Despite remarkable economic prosperity and negligible communal violence in the past decade, the hold of the Majlis on the Muslims of Hyderabad remains, despite minor dents. And despite widespread allegations of Majlis leaders having “made money”, most ordinary Muslims continue to support them because, as one bank executive put it “they represent our issues clearly and unambiguously’’. An old Historian Bakhtiyar khan says the Owaisi family was a rich family even before entering Politics and he says he had seen the late Majlis leader Abdul Wahed Owaisi in an American Buick car at a time when rarely cars were seen on Hyderabad Roads and the family had strong relations with the ersthwhile Nizams of Hyderabad and the Paighs even now the family is considered to be one of the richest familes in Hyderabad.
A university teacher says that the Majlis helped Muslims live with dignity and security at a time when they were under attack and even took the fear out of them after the Police action and adds that he has seen Majlis leaders in the front at times confronting with the Police and the Govt.
Asaduddin Owaisi, the articulate UK educated barrister son of Salahuddin Owaisi and Former leader of the Majlis’ Legislature party and now an MP himself who has travelled across the globe meeting world leaders and organizatons and even in war zones compares the Majlis to the Black Power movement of America.
The Majlis that emerged after 1957 is a completely different entity from its pre-independence edition, he says adding that comparisons with that bloody past are “misleading and mischievous”. “That Majlis was fighting for state power, while we have no such ambitions or illusions”.
He stoutly defends the need for “an independent political voice” for the minorities, which is willing to defend them and project their issues “firmly”.
“How can an independent articulation of minority interests and aspirations be termed communal,” he asks and contests any definition of democracy which questions the loyalty of minorities if they assert their independent political identity. “We are a threat not only to the BJP and Hindu communalism, but also to Muslim extremism,” Asaduddin claims. “By providing a legitimate political vent for Muslims to voice their aspirations and fears, we are preventing the rise of political extremism and religious obscurantism when the community is under unprecedented attack from Hindu communalists and the state’’. He can be seen in his speeches speaking against terrorism in the Country and says if the time arises Majlis will stand side by side in defending the Nation

6:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Taking the long historic view with emphasis on the racial nature of social behavior, one should keep in mind that the Israelis and the Arabs are Semitic people with origins in the Arabian Peninsula. Whereas, the Iranians are from Eurasians Steeps. These two cultural groups have met and fought one another across the Tigris Euphrates valley for approximately 4 millennium. Thus, it would not be surprising to see a Saudi Israeli alliance. Indeed, it would be expected.

9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, the people who run Israel are mostly not Semites; they're mostly European.

12:40 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home