Global Review wanted to make an interview with a Saudi woman which was working for 12 years at the Foreign Direct Investment Agency in Saudiarabia, has close relations to Saudi authorities and a blog about Saudiarabia and wants to air some PR for the Middle East kingdom. However our interview questions received the following statement:
„Dear Ralf, after going through your writings and questions, I came to the conclusion that we don’t share the same political views. Therefore I apologise and retrieve my previous agreement to do the interview. I am a proud Muslim.“
Of course I´m not a Saudi Wahhabist nor a Muslim, but wanted to grant the Saudis a platform to counter Western prejudiceses and biases, even if it has hard to do so. But even this seems too much for “ a proud Muslim“. Muslim is not enough, but you have to be a „proud Muslim“. And if I said, I was a „proud German“everybody would accuse me of being a „Nazi“. I also never heard of „a proud Christian“in Germany or Europe, maybe in the USA and their Evangelicals and their Religious Right. But maybe the Saudis understand their Christian counterparts in the USA very good as the Saudis care about Mekka and the US Evangelicals and its goverment about Jerusalem while Iran and the Muslimbrotherhood only make religious conflicts about Jerusalem–besides all geopolitical considerations. However: Here are the interview questions a „proud Muslim“ is unwilling and cannot to answer.:
Global Review: Saudiarabia exists since 1932 as a nation state and 1945 Roosevelt met with King Saud on an aircraft carrier. Since then Saudiaarabia has been a reliable partner of the USA and the West. Could you summarize the development of Saudiarabia snce 1932 in its most important phases under the different dynasties and the status of the country today? What remained and what changed?
Global Review: Conspiracy theorist and Islamists try to delegitimize the rule of the Saudi dynasty. They claim that the Saud family had not the Hashemites as their ancestors, but that were in one blood line with the Jewish tribe of Banu Qunaiqa in Arabia in the 7th century and that the founder of the Wahhabist sect Muhammed Ibn Abd Al Wahab was a member of an Jewish comunity in Turkey, that his grandfather was a Turkish Jew from the Doeenmeh community which collaborated with Turkish dictator Mustafa Kemal Attturk in ordert o establish a pro-Western dictatorship which became dependent from British Empire and later the USA. What is the real story?
Global Review: Saudiarabia is known for its ultraorthodox Sunni Islam, the Wahhabism. Islam is also the state religion in Saudiarabia, but does this only mean Sunni Islam ist he state religion and Schiite Islam is not?. How are the relations between the religious leaders and the royal political sphere organized and what are the main religious and political institutions in Saudiarabia?
Global Review: Is the King also the religious leader comparable with Iran´s Ajatollah Khomeini or are these interconnected, however seperated spheres? Can you become king by blood line or have the religious leaders the right to anticipate in the succesor question? Are the Saudi kings ancestors of Prophet Mohammed or what is their legitimation fort he throne?
Global Review: Saudiarabia tries to portray Mekka as the Holy Site of Islam, while the Muslimbrotherhood tries to portray the Al-Aqsa mosque and Jerusalem as the Holy Site of Islam. Which are the arguments and the political implications of this? What does Trump´s decision to reckognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel mean for the Muslimworld and for Saudiarabia?
Global Review: During the Cold War Saudiarabia faced communism and socialist Panarabism (Nasser, Assad, Saddam Hussein) as its main enemy and supported Islamist groups in the Muslim world everywhere—from North Africa to Afghanistan/Pakistan to Bangladesch and even Malaysia and Indonesia.Was this just a defensive counterbalancing reaction or had the Saudis also in mind activley to spread Islam, Wahhabism and Salafism?
Global Review: Saudiarabia has a bad reputation as its Wahhabism is perceived as the religious and ideological basis for Al Qaida, Salafists, the Taliban, the Islamic State and other jihaddi groups in the Muslim world. 11 of the 9-11 terrorists were of Saudi origin, Osama Binladen also the son of a important Saudi familiy. US-Neoconservatives even thought of regime change in Saudiarabia after 9-11. Did the War on Terror cause a debate in Saudiarabia about ist support for Islamist and jihadist groups and its ultraorthodox Wahhabism?
Global Review: King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman want to reform Saudiarabia and announced their „Vision 2030“. What are the motives and the global trends that brought up this refrom will? What are the main points of this reform agenda? Is it just a economic and technological reform or beyond this also a reform oft he political and religious system?
Global Review: Many reformers in backward societies were ousted from power by traditionalists and reactionary groups or Islamist mass movements like the Shah in Iran under Khomeini or by a democratic movement like the Arab spring.Will Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salmann as successor of King Salman have a reliable and powerful network to make his reforms sustainable? Couldn´t his reform produce instability and a backlash? Could Islamist groups like the Muslimbrotherhood or the Islamic State or parts oft the religious leaders generate a fundamentalist mass movement and transform Saudiarabia in a presidental Islamofascist dictatorship, a Califate or a theocracy?
Global Review: What are the main opposition groups or parties in Saudiarabia and what about the Muslimbrotherhood and the IS? Besides the Green Party of Saudi Arabia, the Communist Party in Saudiarabia and the Arab Socialist Action Party the most important opposition group is the „Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia“(MIRA) in London under the leadership of Saad Al- Faqih. MIRA says that it is for the seperation of power, free spech and women´s right. However MIRA is on the terrorist list oft he USA and some say it is not a secular, but an Islamist group with an hidden agenda. Do you know more about these groups and what do they stand for?
Global Review: Saudiarabia´s main competitor in the region is Iran. Both sides fight in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen about influence in the region.To which extent is this a religious war and to which extent is this a war and conflict between two regional powers? How possible is it that the Iranian-Saudi proxy wars will escalate in a direct war, maybe with intervention of the USA, Israel and Russia?
Global Review: How are the relations between Saudiarabia, Russia and China? Will Saudiarabia become part of China´s megaproject the New Silkroad (One Belt, One Road/OBOR)?
Global Review: In the realm of women´s rights Saudiarabia is the most backward country in the world.Will there be reforms and more rights for women? Compared to Saudiarabia Iran´s women have more rights? When will we see unveiled women with political rights in Saudiarabia? Couldn´t this create a backlash as religious leaders, traditionalists and ordinary males might want economic, political or technological reforms, but not women´s liberalization?
Global Review: Saudiarabia has a very bad reputation as it´s fighting a cruel war in Yemen with outbreak of Cholera and now even possible mass starvation of millions.Who are the main actors in this war? Western observers as Islam expert Juan Cole say that the Houthis are mostly Shiite tribes, but that the Iranian support for them was small and that their Schiite religion was different from the Iranian Schiite religion and ideology.However, the Houtis seem to be very ambitious in their political goals as they killed former President Saleh who wanted to make a deal with Saudiarabia to stop the war and the destruction of his country.
Global Review: The relations between the USA, Israel and Saudiarabia under Trump are getting closer, while the relations between the EU, especially Germany and Saudiarabia are getting worse.Foreign minister Gabriel called Saudiarabia´s foreign policy „adventurism“, the German secret service, the BND aired a critical report against Saudiarabia and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman which said that Saudiarabia was a destabilising factor in the Greater Middle East, Germany prohibited arms export to Saudiarabia and the BND wants to observe Balkans states as Saudiarabia and other Muslim countries as Turkey want to spread Islamism in Bosnia-Herzegowina, Kosovo and Albania. Saudiarabia withdraw its ambassodor in Germany. How do the Saudis perceive the European, especially the German foreign policy?
Global Review: Which role plays Saudiarabia in the Israeli- Palestinian conflict ? And how close are the relations between Saudiarabia and Israel? Will Saudiarabia in the near future establish diplomatic relations with Israel?
Global Review: After Syria and Yemen, Iraq might be the next big hot spot as Iran tries to spread its influence in Shiite Iraq. Especially when Grand Ajatollah Sistani would die, Iran could use the oppurtunity to establish a islamofascist regime as in Teheran.Saudiarabia invited the president of Iraq and leader of Shiite Dawa party, Abadi, set up an Iraqi-Saudi Cooperation Council and even met with Shiite militant leader Muktadar el-Sadr who wants to start a interreligious movement with differnt ethnic and even secualr parteis and groups to counterbalance the Iranian influence.Different from Yemen Saudiarabia seems to deescalate the Sunni-Shiite conflict in Iraq and to stablilize the country.Do you think that Iraq will remain stable as Saudiarabia, Israel and the USA are questioning the nuclear deal and are pressuring Iran?
Global Review: Saudiarabia has been the major oil producer, founding member of the OPEC, member of the Organization of the Islamic States, the Arab League.What are Saudiarabia´s interests in the realm of oil prices and geopolitical coalitions? 1973 it was responsible for the oil price hike due to the Sinai war between Egypt and Israel, since then it was more a regulator for Western industry production that the prices are regulated to the point that you still need oil, but that renewable energies and other suppliers don´t become too important. Is oil and gas and the OPEC still such important in the face of the boom of renewable energies and fracking in the USA? Does the USA, the EU, China and India still need Saudiarabia and the OPEC as before? And what does Saudarabia think about the Paris Climate treaty?
Global Review: Saudiarabia wants to build its own arms industry to get more independent from US and other arms imports. Saudiarabia also asked Trump to easen nuclear technology imports. Some observers claim that Saudiarabia wants to build its own nuclear weapons with US or Pakistani support to counterbalance possible Iranian nuclear weapons and fear that this could cause an armsrace in the region. Trump already has said during his election campaign that Southkorea or Japan could built its own nuclear weapons–is a Saudi nuclear bomb a realistic option?