The sim card that increases the West’s unfairness against Saudi Arabia
The Western media is being unfair; it thinks Saudi Arabia is behind every disaster in the world
A year ago, Britain’s then-Prime Minister David Cameron said security cooperation with Saudi Arabia would keep Britain safe. European and American officials were quoted as saying the same.
Saudi counter-terrorism experience is the most important security treasure in the region. Security agreements have contributed to detecting dangerous cells in the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait. These agreements have also helped Europeans identify terrorists and take measures against people suspected of plotting acts of violence.
Saudi history with terrorism dates back to the late 1970s, ever since the occupation of the Grand Mosque in Makkah. It expanded in the mid-1990s when specific types of operations took place, namely the explosions in Alyia and then Khobar Towers.
The situation worsened in this millennium, with the kingdom suffering from both Sunni and Shiite terrorism. It was targeted by Osama bin Laden, Yusef al-Ayeri and Seif al-Adel. It was also targeted by Iranian intelligence, Hezbollah factions and Imad Mughniyeh; nothing was sacred to them as they even conducted operations against Makkah, the city for pilgrimage. They were keen on targeting the greatest sanctities.
Saudi Major General Mansour al-Turki said one of the two members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) who carried out two terrorist acts in Germany last month used a Saudi phone number when opening a new account on a social networking site, assuming the terrorist is currently residing in a country suffering from conflict, not in Saudi Arabia.
“Calls and meetings were held to exchange information between experts from both countries through security cooperation channels, to study the communication means between the terrorist member and one of the perpetrators of the terrorist acts in Germany, through a social networking application that was activated using a Saudi phone number,” Turki said.
Saudi updates have become a very sensitive issue for the West, and human rights activists have become highly sensitive when discussing events in the kingdom. We do not witness the same reactions when executions take place in Iran, unlike when Saudi Arabia executes terrorists, 90 percent of whom have been Sunni with very few Shiites. Even Israeli media has supported Iranian executions.
The Western media is being unfair; it thinks Saudi Arabia is behind every disaster in the worldTurki Aldakhil
The Western media is being unfair; it thinks Saudi Arabia is behind every disaster in the world. Even if the story does not go beyond using a Saudi number to register a new account on a social networking site, the West rushes to put the Saudi government and society in the dock.
There is a gap between governments and the media. Security apparatuses in the region and the world know that cooperation with Saudi Arabia will help expose extremist organizations. This is because Saudi experience in the war against terrorism is rare and exceptional, and because countries in the region such as Yemen, Syria and Iraq are suffering from turbulence.
The kingdom is enticing for the media because it is a vast and rich country that abides by Islamic sharia law, and all its citizens wear traditional Arab garb. The world is no longer divided into East and West. However, this is a simple idea that can be accepted before jumping to conclusions and wanting to know about the whole world in one click.
Saudis are neither angels nor demons. Extremism is a dilemma that affects the whole world. It is a transnational problem that cannot be solved by clinging to a trivial pretext such as a sim card to blame the kingdom for every problem in the world.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Aug. 9, 2016.
Turki Aldakhil is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. He began his career as a print journalist, covering politics and culture for the Saudi newspapers Okaz, Al-Riyadh and Al-Watan. He then moved to pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat and pan-Arab news magazine Al-Majalla. Turki later became a radio correspondent for the French-owned pan-Arab Radio Monte Carlo and MBC FM. He proceeded to Elaph, an online news magazine and Alarabiya.net, the news channel’s online platform. Over a ten-year period, Dakhil’s weekly Al Arabiya talk show “Edaat” (Spotlights) provided an opportunity for proponents of Arab and Islamic social reform to make their case to a mass audience. Turki also owns Al Mesbar Studies and Research Centre and Madarek Publishing House in Dubai. He has received several awards and honors, including the America Abroad Media annual award for his role in supporting civil society, human rights and advancing women’s roles in Gulf societies. He tweets @TurkiAldakhil.