Analysts Weighing in on ideologies from the Gulf

10/02/2016 10:50 am ET

You have to look pretty hard to find folks who write about what’s really going on with the struggle over religious ideologies coming out of the Gulf. A lot of the info I see coming out of US think tanks is outdated. Scholars like Bruce Riedel from Brookings barely touch the issue. He wrote a really good piece about the crown prince of Saudi, Mohammed bin Naif. It was the best piece about him I ever read. He gets quoted a lot in newspapers like Wall Street Journal. Then there’s people like Simon Henderson at the Washington Institute for Near Eastern Policy. He writes all the time too, about the royal family and the competition between the princes. And he has a big report on oil that came out over the summer. His articles are in a lot of newspapers and magazines also, Both of them do these kinds of articles actually. They mostly care about the mysteries of the palace and what it means for military and security issues between US, Saudi, Gulf states, and the Iran conflicts. That and oil. I’ve seen Joseph Braude writing about Saudi reform and he takes on the more domestic issues, including the religious ideologies. He had a long article about Saudi and it was different from the normal Washington stuff. And he writes for Majalla and other magazines. But as you can see from the articles, he writes about different subjects, not just SAudi.

One guy who’s tracking the issue who seems really good is James Dorsey. He comes at it from a “public diplomacy” background, as he’s got a blog on soccer games and how the Gulf countries use them to play politics. He just came out with an article in “Globalist” about the Islamic conference in Chechenya. He says Russia and the UAE teamed up against Saudis. It gets into how UAE is paying money to try and buy loyalty of key religious leaders away from Saudi. Azhar seminar in Egypt is one of the big contests. Dorsey says lot of a Azhar sheikhs get big money from Saudi, or try to anyway.

But Russia and UAE teaming up against Saudi? Ok, it’s possible. Russia’s got a lot of Muslims and they’re getting into Mideast more and more. Syria military strikes of course. And they’re anti-Brotherhood and UAE is anti-Brotherhood. And they have not good relations with Saudi because of Syria campaign. So, I see that. Chechenya is a kind of out-of-way place for a big Islamic conference, but I guess it makes sense that they would do it there to kind of test the waters. What Dorsey says is, they got all these sheikhs together and excluded “Wahhabism” from the event.

Maybe. It’s not the first Dorsey article on this. He also had an article in GLobalist called “Creating Frankenstein: The Saudi Export of Ultra-Conservatism.” It’s pretty harsh, but then again, there really is extremism coming out of those clerical groups.

But I don’t think he gets how there’s different groups in Saudi Arabia and they’re not all one big “Wahhabi” camp. It’s bad to generalize.

Anywa, I’m still thinking about this.

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