Sunday, 1 February 2015
Dateline London 31/01/2015
Mina al-Oraibi owns Owen Jones from the off. She doesn't have time at the end to correct everything he says, but takes on many of his simplifications.
It might be easier for Leftists to understand that Owen Jones and the Daily Mail are the same side of the coin when it comes to blaming the Saudis for Islamic radicalism by looking at an example from the latter.*
He admits Mina Al-Oraibi's first point, and then tries to claim it was what he was saying anyway. Not true. He's trying to claim that al-Qaida is just Western oriented, she points out that since the Gulf War in 1991 al-Qaida has been just as opposed to the Saudis, he sidesteps this by talking about their Western target list. Next false claim is that ISIS has focused on overthrowing Arab régimes, when they have foregone the struggle of the rest of the Syrian people against Assad to build up their own state in the areas that the actual rebels liberated from Assad. Someone who has gone to fight Assad isn't going to launch terror attacks in the UK, but Owen Jones muddles them all up as "foreign fighters", just as the Daily Mail would. His talk of "many of these" (presumably trying to avoid the use of the word terrorist, which would make him sound as right-wing as he is), obscures all the differences between those fighting Assad and those who don't, those fighting for a secular or a moderate Islamic state are just all labelled as al-Qaida, just as those who fought the American occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan were.
A tradition the Americans have been happy to continue in Syria, which is why if Hillary Clinton wasn't happy with Qatar over so-called anti-terrorist co-operation, it was because the latter wanted to support the fight to free Syria from Assad, largely through the secular Free Syrian Army, while the Americans wanted to stop the FSA getting the anti-aircraft weapons they needed to stop Assad's bombing, because they were more scared of Islamic extremists than they desired to stop the genocide.
Incidentally, there was a smear campaign** in the American media against Qatar financed by the United Arab Emirates. The throwing in of the property ownership of Qataris in the UK sounds a lot like complaints that Jewish capitalists are doing as down, and is unpleasant, and seem to have little to do with Qatari policy vis-a-vis ISIS.
The basic lie is that Gulf funding for ISIS is the problem, falls down when we consider that the autocratic régimes and the jihadis may be religiously similar, but are politically opposed, and so while they may have individual donors, mixing that up with the states' policies is an error. It also falls down because states' internal policies differ from their foreign policy needs, which is why the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Qatar have funded the Free Syrain Army when the US has allowed them to, because that would get rid of the source of instability in the region Assad, and the client of their rival Iran, which ISIS is not threatening to do, Thirdly it ignores that Assad's genocide is the primary cause for the rise of ISIS in Syria, followed by the lack of support for the FSA as it has battled to keep those areas free from ISIS. And the funding for Assad hasn't been the West, though the West has been happy to see him crush the country for four years while they do nothing but issue condemnations; it is the Russians who have given him billions of dollars of weaponry, the Iranians that have provided tens of thousands of foreign fighters, without which Assad would be gone, Syria would be free, and there would be no ISIS. Owen Jones is kicking sand in our faces to obscure the real problem, just as the Daily Mail would.
Owen Jones: "Originally the difference between ISIS and al-Qaida, of course, is that al-Qaida focused on Western targets, while ISIS, their position was..."
Mina Al-Oraibi: "That's not true. They focused on Pakistan, on Saudi Arabia, on Iraq. Their propaganda was different. They focused in their speeches about the West."
Owen Jones: "Absolutely. They have an extensive target list across the Western world, and that, of course, wasn't originally the case with ISIS. Actually, rather than with al-Qaida, have these great spectacular attacks, what we will do is keep land, we will retain land, and expand and focus on the Arab régimes. And, of course now, given the foreign fighters, and so on, which are returning in many cases, it has become far more of a domestic problem; but one of the issues which the West simply has not come to terms with is their relationship with various Arab dictatorships, where internally, obviously a huge amount of funding and ideological support for many of these, not just ISIS, but Jabhat al-Nusra..."
Gavin Esler: "The realpolitik means that strongmen leaders are the ones the West supports."
Owen Jones: "But that doesn't mean allowing the continued supply of funding, and ideological export, I mean take Saudi Arabia , for example, I mean take Qatar, as Hillary Clinton herself pointed out, has the worst record of co-operation with Western counter-terrorism in the whole of the Middle East. Where they've failed, where Kuwait, they have these huge charities, so-called, which are perfectly legal, exporting funds to various extremist groups in Syria and elsewhere. So, the problem is, look at Qatar for example. In Britain, last week, they just got this huge new slice of Canary Wharf, they own the Shard, the own a huge chunk of the London stock exchange, and Sainsbury's, yet internally there are huge problems with Qatar, in terms of links between very prominent and very wealthy individuals within Qatar, and these extremist groups, and the West simply turns a blind eye, because they are obviously very convenient allies in the Middle East."
Mina Al-Oraibi: "It's a huge tangled web that Dateline doesn't have enough time for. However, I will say this: I think there are too many simplifications made, about what is happening in the region, about who supports who, partly because the alliances keep shifting. What we've seen happening in the region, not only from the revolutions of the last four years or so, but even pre-dating that to the Iraq war, and pre-dating that to Afghanistan. You've had different groups, who are non-state actors, who are actually very convenient to fund and give arms for, to push through a strategic goal, and then those arms, those funds, go to different groups, and you lose the thread. That's what has happened with different groups fighting in the region, and that's why it's so scary. States in the region have lost the monopoly over arms, and that continues to cause huge problems, but ISIS is different. ISIS really does represent a threat to the people, and the governments of these countries. I think it's very indicative, we go back to the coalition and why there was a coalition against ISIS, again their first meeting was in Saudi Arabia. It was Saudi Arabia's way of saying, this clearly is a threat to us, as it is to the West. And we see the attacks that ISIS is carrying out, on citizens and people, of the Middle East, of Arabs, and other ethnicities, much greater , for example, than the threat they pose to the West, and outside of the region. And, at the end of the day, there are domestic issues we have to deal with, there are issues of funding, but whether we look at Kuwait for example, there are people the UN Security Council has named, and Kuwait itself has penalised. I think it's also unfair, if we talk about religious leaders, there have been everybody from [unclear] to Saudi scholars, speaking against ISIS. It doesn't get translated into English, that's often the problem."