Tag Archives: King Abdullah

What’s Happening In The Middle East?

Although most discussions regarding the Middle East center around the ongoing Israel-Palestinian conflict, there is also considerable conflict among Arab nations. On one hand, most Sunni Middle Eastern nations are worried about the danger of Shiite Iran gaining power in the region, Syria continues to forge close relationships with that nation. Saudi Arabia King Abdulah is due to make his first visit to Syria in order to shift hat nation to a more anti-Iran stance. Saudi Arabia for years has been concerned over Syrian attempts to control the Sunni dominated nation of Lebanon where it all to often cooperates with Shiite forces such as Hezbollah.

In the meantime, Syrian officials postponed a visit by Palestinian leader Abbas who has come under fierce attack because he refused to fight to have the Goldstone report brought to the attention of the Un and urge the condemnation of Israel. At times, one needs a score card to figure out who is on whose side and how this all sorts out to bring peace to the Middle East.

“Moment Of Truth” In Middle East?

Tony Blair, the Quartet representative in the Middle East, told the Jerusalem Post that events in the Middle East were fast coming down to either important decisions are made or the region will face the possibility of further disaster. We’ve reached, “the moment of truth” as to which direction the area will go. Meanwhile, King Abdullah told the Times that all eyes will be focused on Washington in the coming weeks as Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has his first meeting with President Obama who already has made clear the United States supports a two state solution. The King warned, “if the call is in May that this is not the right time or we are not interested, then the world is going to be sucked into another conflict in the Middle East.”

The King in his recent meeting with Obama presented the Arab League proposal which calls for recognition of Israel in exchange for return to the 1967 borders and East Jerusalem being the capital of a new Palestinian state. The proposal is what Israel wanted forty years ago and now that dream can be achieved.

The Arabs and Israelis are both sick and tired of another set of talks that end up with plans to hold further meetings. It is time for action that meets the needs and aspirations of all concerned parties.

Saudi Arabia And Forces Of Terrorism

Saudi Arabia has most probably spawned more terrorists than any society in the world. Its education system gave birth to Osama bin Laden and fifteen of the 19 World Trade Center bombing. Saudi schools teach a narrow interpretation of life which depicts non-Muslims as evil and disparages their religious beliefs. Pakistani Madrassas, which are heavily funded by Saudi Arabia, are hotbeds of radicalism and terror. Saudi Arabia is among the few places in the world in which women can not drive a car and the nation’s laws grant to husbands power over the lives of their wives.However, King Abdullah is determined to make changes in the educational system before he dies– or dies in the effort?

The king placed new people in charge of the ministry of education and even appointed a woman to a key position and gave them orders to create a modern education system. Mohammed Youssef, a professor of education at King Abdulaziz University, says, “we have been calling for such changes for a long time.” Everyone knows that one of the most important reasons for terrorists emerging from Saudi schools is they are taught the language of hate rather than of respect for other views and religions.

Reformers want to change textbooks to eliminate hate, explain in an intelligent manner the ideas of other people and societies, and draw upon modern concepts in science. King Abdullah seeks to create a new university centered on technology and science which would be open to both males and females, both sexes would be in class together, and many restrictions on women would be waived. If the king can pull this one off, he will impact not merely education, but the very basis of his society.

Moderates Alive In Saudi Arabia?

King Abduallah of Saudi Arabia has a sense of what is transpiring in the world although his nation’s religious leaders still prefer inhabiting the word of the 15th century when all was good and women knew their place–submit to men. The King weakened the hold of Islamic hardliners by appoiinting the first woman to a ministerial post and dismissed a leading fundamentalist cleric and the head of the nation’s powerful religious police. He apparently is frustrated with the pace of reform and moving Saudi Arabia into the 21st century where it is necessary to draw upon the talents of all members of society, including women. Abdullah dismissed Sheik Ibrahim al-Ghaith, head of the Commission of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, which has adopted a position that leaves women at the mercy of religious police in the course of their everyday lives.

Noura al-Fayez was elevated to the new post of deputy minister of women’s education. The women’s education ministry had a reputation of being corrupt and incompetent. Abduallah is most probably going to bring into the government more moderate and open minded clerics.

Saudi Arabia Appoints Woman To Ministerial Position

The appointment last week of a woman to an important ministerial position raises questions as to whether King Abdullah is trying to make some dramatic shifts in the nature of his kingdom. The selection of Ms. Norah al-Fayez is an indication the King is disappointed with the religious police and hard liners who spend their time harassing young people for doing ordinary things like walk in a mall. Religious police have embarrassed Saudi authorities angry by chasing young people in the streets and forcing them into mosques for prayers, and they have grossly violated the rights of migrants whose work is vitally important to the nation.

The replacement of the conservative chief justice Salih al-Lihaidan was another sign of frustration on the part of Abdullah who wants to move his nation into the 21st century. A modern society can not simply ignore half of its citizens and hope to be productive. There is a new generation of Saudi leaders waiting to assume greater control for directing the nation. They know oil will not last forever and there is need to develop high tech components to the economy and educate youth for a global world.

Will Disbanding West Bank Settlements Lead To War?

There are decisions made by nation’s which come back to haunt future leaders who must live with failure to act in the past. For nearly forty years, some Israel leaders have warned of dangers that might arise from continuing to allow settlers to expand their building on the West Bank. President Shimon Peres told members of the British Parliament that his nation would encounter difficulty dismantling West Bank settlements and such action might readily turn into violence, if not war within Israel. Despite anti-Israel demonstrations by supporters of the Palestinians, Peres told Oxford University students recent peace proposals by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia might be the basis of peace, but it would require action by Arab nations to make Hamas abide by the provisions of such an agreement.

Peres raises an important point in emphasizing any agreement must be implemented and responsibility for that rests in the hands of Arab leaders. On the other hand, the Israel government must be prepared to deal with angry West Bank settlers in order to ensure that agreements are respected. Most probably, there might have to be some minor modifications about the West Bank that would allow a small portion to remain in the hands of Israel. Such, might be reality.

Israeli- Arab People Break Bread

In an unusual eating event, Israel and Arab leaders broke bread together at a dinner arranged by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Ban hosted a two day conference which focused on promoting global dialogue about religion, cultures and common values. The UN leader refused to discuss seating arrangements and made clear he was not arranging discussions, but hopefully spending time together in conversation might eventually result in future discussions between opposing groups. Ban hoped “their participation in the meetings and through this social-diplomatic gathering they will be able to promote better understanding.”

The idea for the conference came from King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, which is somewhat strange given his nation does not afford religious freedom to all people living in the realm. Human Rights Watch urged participants to push King Abdullah to deal with his own nation as well as helping other countries of the world attain religious tolerance.

Tensions Remain Active In Middle East Amidst Bombings

Prime Minister Olmert made a special trip to meet Jordan’s King Abdullah to discuss the growing tensions created by rocket bomb attacks on Israel from Muslim militants and Israel bombing of Gaza Strip targets. King Abdullah urged Israel to stick to the Annapolis Conference road map and halt further building on the West Bank. He emphasized, “halt unilateral activities that may obstruct progress.” The Hamas authorities have done little to halt rocket attacks and as each side bombs, the other feels the need to retaliate. Israel is concerned that a recent rocket attack included a longer range Katyusha which landed in an Israel city. There is little doubt any further such bombings will result in a massive Israel response.

Up to this point, the Bush, Abbas, and Olmert approach has been to ignore Hamas as a peace factor. Hamas stands on the sideline creating problems by allowing rocket launches. One solution might be to involve Hamas in peace negotiations. At this point, since ignoring them has not changed anything, what is to be lost by trying another approach which actively engages the group in a peace process?

Saudi King Claims Blair Knew About London Bombing!

King Abdullah, making the first visit to England in twenty years by a Saudi ruler, created a storm of controversy by claiming he sent information to Prime Minister Tony Blair before the tragic July 7, 2007 bombing in London. “We have sent information to Great Britain before the terrorist attacks in Britain, but unfortunately no action was taken. And it may have been able to maybe avert the tragedy.” His rather dramatic comment raises questions as to why two years after the event this information is finally seeing the light of day. Some critics believe it is a pre-emptive strike by the Saudi King in order to divert attention from his own failures in extending human rights within the kingdom. Vince Cable, head of the Liberal Democratic Party, said he would boycott anything to do with King Abdullah due to the human rights failures in Saudi Arabia.

We can expect in the coming years other claims that Blair or Bush ignored warnings about potential terrorist attacks. In some cases, the speaker will be expressing solid information, in others, it may simply be a way to gain attention or, in the case of King Abdullah, to focus attention on British failures rather than his own civil rights record.