25 July 2015

Can the Middle East tackle Islamist militancy?

.... If you watch Saudi television, as I sometimes do, you will quickly realise that Saudi Arabia is tragicomically caught in the huge gap between the image it tries to project and the reality it pretends does not exist.

Last Saturday was such a moment.

After the announcement that the interior ministry had broken up terror cells linked to so-called Islamic State (IS) and arrested some 400 suspects, Saudi commentators took to the airwaves. They praised the police for thwarting planned terrorists attacks and, crucially, noted the young age of the suspects, most of whom were Saudis.

They talked about how Saudi society could steer those stray, lost souls back to the path of true Islam and away from extremism.

The irony couldn't have escaped anyone who knows Saudi Arabia well.

How could this ultra-conservative monarchy fight extremism when its own brand of the faith - known as Wahhabi Islam - is barely distinguishable from the one practised by the militants in Syria and Iraq? [BBC] Read more