In addition to military confrontations, the region is rippled with more confrontations that are an extension of the ongoing conflict that erupted around seven years ago in the wake of the so-called Arab Spring.
The regions volcanoes are still turbulent and their lavas have not stopped yet. They seem to us like transient and sporadic crises but they repeat within a continuous context between governments, and between governments and ideological organizations.
All this falls within the context of a tug of war aiming to change the old situation or stopping the new change on the ground. The truth is, targeting governments in the region that are leading self-change, such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is no surprise.
However, change is a difficult process because it tries to eradicate ideas that are deeply-rooted, common cultures and major structures. Our colleague Jamal Khashoggi was killed, even if he surfaces alive, as he was used as a bullet in the media battle, and those waving his shirt are the ones who care about him the least, the target is in Riyadh.
In the crisis of Khashoggi’s disappearance, the objective is to exploit it to depict governments, and specifically Saudi Arabia, as evil and as if they are the new North Korea or RussiaAbdulrahman al-Rashed
Ruthless opposition to change
Those who thought cancelling or marginalizing ideological movements will happen smoothly have nowadays discovered how difficult this is because these movements are present and they’re ruthless and they are redeploying in the region. Some of those affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, for instance, fled to Turkey and Qatar and used their extensions in Europe and the US after their capabilities were partially hindered in Egypt and Gulf countries and after they were restrained in Tunisia and Morocco.
The rest resorted to working underground. In addition to the Brotherhood, there are the remnants of ideological schools and the organizations which are rearranging their situation according to the shifts of the “Arab Spring.” These do not end, but they disappear or reposition themselves.
Jamal is the victim of the current war in the region, his battle is an extension of a series of media and political battles that each party wants to exploit in its “cause.” In the crisis of Khashoggi’s disappearance, the objective is to exploit it to depict governments, and specifically Saudi Arabia, as evil and as if they are the new North Korea or Russia or others with what’ve been previously categorized.
Saudi Arabia is being attacked because it’s the country that took brave steps and went far to make internal reforms the most, and it’s confronting wide opposition in the entire region. It’s not possible to view these crises which reoccur in different magnitudes except as a wide media and political battle.
Targeting Saudi Arabia
Amid these challenges, is it possible to trim ideological and organizational powers in the region to the end of the difficult road? We must be aware that the process of expelling extremist organizational and ideological structures in the region, and that have been established over the course of over four decades, is not easy and it will be more difficult with time.
The targeting of Saudi Arabia is expected because it’s the country leading the process of change, which will affect a broad geographic area and humans from Indonesia to California and reformulate moderate political and religious concepts at the expense of the old system in the Islamic region. Screens will be crowded with other news as accidents and cases will be used to distort the face of the new Arab system that opposes the old one.
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More of the upcoming qualitative confrontations will be based on creating an international or an Arab general image against the idea itself. The will say that the modernization project is exaggerated and is merely an individual act of an individual rule, or that modernization is not enough and is less than what’s expected while citing the ongoing and inherited obstacles and mixing up between the practices of individuals and governments. Let’s admit the truth: exiting the old situation will not come without a price.
Khashoggi’s disappearance itself is a case that deserves meditation as from a humanitarian and moral aspect, it’s rejected, and if he is killed, as per the Qatari-Turkish propaganda, it becomes an international crime. It’s currently being transformed into a battle against the new Saudi project which in two years has gained great global enthusiasm because it’s clear in its ideas and brave in its steps. Work in this project has begun, and it is destroying and building and moving forward.
The attempts to use crises to cast doubts on the project, obstruct it and turn international public opinion against it is expected, especially from those who announced that they believe in it and are enthusiastic about it, as we can see in the western media while dealing with the Khashoggi crisis.
Change is a huge battle as we see on two fronts; one front that pledged change and will not allow anyone to stand in its way and another that swore to thwart change efforts by working to defy it, distort its image and establish a crowd that opposes it.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed.