Saudi Arabia: Impact of Unifying Sunni States and Tribes

King Abdullah’s ‘Iran Initiative’ towards unifying the Arab States by tribal ties and practice of Sunni Islam is a brilliant concept.  It is so easy to overlook or understate the role of tribes in the Arab world but the ties are there and have been strong for centuries.  Tribal bonds can surpass borders.  Therefore when looking at the Arab world as a whole, the linkages of tribes are many and the Sunni Muslims are the majority.

King Abdullah is using these factors in his ‘Iran Initiative’ when stating Iran is a threat to the Arab world.  Countries, tribes and Sunni Muslims must join together to support this initiative which will benefit all.

 

Saudi Arabia’s ‘Iran Initiative’ is explained and discussed in further detail in this informative article from the Jamestown Foundation.

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43 Responses

  1. Two major flaws with this nonsensical and apologetic post are: If 60 million mostly poor Iranian and a regime most of them loath are a threat to 450 million Arabs with vast land and huge natural resources then the question that should be asked is why?

    Second, Arab tribalism is not stronger of older than other tribes anywhere including Europeans and others. How does Shammar tribe some of whom live in Syria, some in Kuwait, some in Jordan and some in Falujah differ from the British who live in Australia, South Africa, the US and in Canada?

    The reason the Saud autocratic and theocratic men in Riyadh want to mobilize Sunni Arabs and other Sunni Muslims to go to war with their autocratic and theocratic counterparts in Tehran is simple even for the most simple minded people in the world: They want to rule all Muslims in the name of Islam under the enslaving and denigrating Shariah law.

  2. Not all Iranians are shiite there is a large part that are sunni but ppl dot hear about it much..they live mostly on the out corners of iran.

  3. Sunnis banding together against the Shites. Wouldn’t this be like the Baptists joining forces agains the Methodists? And am I the only person for whom this does not make any sense?

  4. Sunni and some sects of shiite are totally different..i dont know anything about baptists and methodists..so not to sure if its a relevant example. Iran in general does not like saudi becos saudi = heart of sunni islam..saudi in general does not like iran because iran= heart of shiite islam..dnt know if that clears anything up at all but there are of course acceptions to the rule.

  5. The last thing anyone needs is more tribalism in the Arab world. Iraq is a mess because of tribalism (a force that we released by the US War in Iraq). Do we need more?

  6. My understanding of Islam is the Sunnis and Shites are from the same religion, just different schools of thought, but both believe Allah to be the one True God and Mohammed is the prophet. Christianity has several schools of thought; Catholicism and Protestantism. The Protestants have several sects within. Baptist, Methodist, Luthern, Episcapalian, Presbyterian are just a few. But they are all Protestant. They all believe in one God and Jesus Christ as the Savior. And none of them are going to attack any of the others, none are going to marginalize the others and none are going to discriminate against the others.
    That Sunnis wish harm to Shites baffles me. Are not all Muslims brothers?

  7. @Linda – ‘Are not all Muslims brothers?’

    Only when they are fighting their common enemy, the NON Muslim (like the Ahamadiyya 😉 )

  8. Linda, the Sunni-Shia thing is much more complicated because it involves a very strong political element. Each group sees the other as apostates or usurpers, and if they could they would gladly do each other in. Tribalism is there but it is nothing compared to the Shia-Sunni conflict, not too much for the common folks, maybe, but very important to political and religious leaders.

    We infidels should really thank Ali, Fatima, Alisha and old Bakr for their work in distraction Muslims from minor concerns such as subduing us. One of my favorite amusements is reading the vile but silly commments each sect makes about the other.

    As to Baptists, I was raised as one, and I know for a fact that only they are going to heaven. If anybody else shows up, I hope they will be really quiet so they don’t cause emotional distress to God’s elite.

  9. And I say again and again … I DO NOT like any organized religions. Here is a prime example of why. It’s absolute rubbish!!! Carol, how can your write about it as being a good thing??? People need to learn to get along and accept one another as they are for heaven sake. As for the Muslims on this board do they really think Allah likes this sort of nonsense????

  10. Off the subject a bit, but did anyone see the article Fareed Zakaria wrote comparing the status of women in Saudi and Iran? Both being mentioned here reminded me of this.

    Jay, I sometimes sit back and think about all the Muslims who kill each other in this present time. What happened to their “ummah” where they are all one family submitted to Allah?

    LOL @ your Baptist comment! You know it! 😉

  11. From a strategic point of view what King Abdullah proposes is a smart move for Saudi Arabia.

  12. Carol, could you perhaps explain what ‘threat’ Iran is against Saudi Arabia? I mean besides their blasphemous intent to ‘spread’ Shiiism.

  13. While Sunni tribalism might be a short term solution (emphasis on short) to power struggles with Iran, tribalism is generally a force of destruction. It would tear at Saudi unity, encourage demonization of the Shia minority and even encourage the already too-prevelant behavior of some tribal Saudi’s to those that are not tribal- even though they are Sunni.

    The real way forward is to minimize and overcome Tribalism. It’s devisiveness and culture of power-seeking is dangerous.

  14. It may be out of cotext. You and everyone knows that Shiites believe that Ali was selected to be Prophet and not Muhammad(pbuh). they believe that Quran was wrongly revealed to Mohammad(pbhu).
    Secondly, some of them belive that Ali should have bben 1st Khlifa and not the Last. they belive that 1st and the 2nd Khlifa intentionally ignored Ali at that time.
    What I am trying to say this conflict is going on for centuries and thats why the Shiits are trying to take over the custodianship of the two MASJIDS.
    If I draw your attention to Wembley Confrence organised by Dr Tahirul Qadri on 24 september 2011 ,he appears to be trouble monger in the name of Interfaith Religion.
    Lahori1932

  15. I just want to say forget those sunni shia things, all are muslim….
    either some Islam haters will be commenting like Lynn, Lolzzzzzzz

  16. @gladiator – Spoken like a true Shia! LOL Too bad you don’t get any say, eh? What do you think about those pesky Ahmadiyya?

    I just think it’s a shame that this ‘brilliant’ king couldn’t come up with a plan to try to unite the world on the basis of common humanity rather than religion.

  17. No, Sheikh, the Shia accept Mohammad as the great prophet, but with two main reservations: 1. That the succession should have been passed to Ali (thru Fatima, M’s daughter), not Abu Bakr’s family and friends (Alisha, Umar and Uthman). 2. That the Fatimid line (via Ali) and family still should exercise spiritual and political control over Muslims (and the world) and that these would rule with Allah’s blessing, guidance and – oh horrors – revelation, which steps on Sunni toes and beliefs.

    The 1st, 2nd and 3rd of the Rashidun Caliph did not just ignore Ali, they fought bloody battles with his followers in which tens of thousands died. I remember a conversation I had with a Muslim, probably Sunni, who would not accept that Ali’s Grandson, Hussein, was killed by Muslims. He had been taught (and was commenting) that it was the ‘enemies of islam’ that killed Mohammad’s grandson (and infant greatgrandson) at Karbala and carried their heads in a bag to their leader.

    Yes, the Shia would very much like to put the Saud heads in a bag and the Saudi Royals know this, then take control of the two holy cities (forget Jerusalem because the jews aren’t going to give it up!).

    I did look up your reference to Mr. Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri and I found it amusing. Why not, instead of Muslims holding conferences about world peace, just treating non-Muslims as equals and refraining from hate, discrimination and violence against them? Nice big words are impressive, but it is the little everyday actions that count.

    Tribalism is nothing compared to the animosity between Sunni and Shia leaders.

  18. PS: If Shia and Sunni want to fight and hate each other, which is obviously the case – not that I approve of it, mind you – well, all I can say is ‘thank you’.

    Gladiator, I view the whole Sunni-Shia thing as a matter of current events and historical record. It is interesting and relevant, and, to me, outside the scope of “islam haters” because neither group teaches tolerance to non-Muslims. I hope you are not saying that we infidels have no right to discuss this delicate issue…. I mean you can’t blame non-Muslims for the shia-sunni conflict, or can you?

    There is a good book called “the Heirs of Mohammad” (if I am not mistaken) that does a good job of putting the historical context (and craziness) of the Ali-Aysha (Shia-Sunni) conflict into context, not only for the Rashiduns, but also for the Umayyad caliphate and thru theAbbasids.

    Note that the Abbasids had nothing to do with the Swedish pop singing group.

  19. What a malicious post. Quite unjustified and pointless.

  20. I believe that many times, religion is simply a tool that is used in order to get the majority of the people in a given area to support a particular political party. The true fight that is in play is the fight over who controls and has access to which resources.

    @Linda,
    “They all believe in one God and Jesus Christ as the Savior. And none of them are going to attack any of the others, none are going to marginalize the others and none are going to discriminate against the others.”

    This is not true. There have been many times throughout history where Christians have discriminated against each other. To an extent, this still goes on today in some circles.

    @Jerry M,
    “The last thing anyone needs is more tribalism in the Arab world. Iraq is a mess because of tribalism (a force that we released by the US War in Iraq). Do we need more?”

    I don’t believe tribalism is the sole problem or thing to blame related to the war in Iraq. There are a lot of variables at play, not the least of which is that where there is upheaval, criminals will do their best to take advantage. Think about all the crime committed in New Orleans after the flooding, for example.

  21. ” I remember a conversation I had with a Muslim, probably Sunni, who would not accept that Ali’s Grandson, Hussein, was killed by Muslims. He had been taught (and was commenting) that it was the ‘enemies of islam’ that killed Mohammad’s grandson (and infant greatgrandson) at Karbala and carried their heads in a bag to their leader.”
    again a miss information Jay. Dont know from where you got that.

    ” the Shia accept Mohammad as the great prophet, but with two main reservations: 1. That the succession should have been passed to Ali (thru Fatima, M’s daughter), not Abu Bakr’s family and friends (Alisha, Umar and Uthman). 2. That the Fatimid line (via Ali) and family still should exercise spiritual and political control over Muslims (and the world) and that these would rule with Allah’s blessing, guidance……
    “…. Agreed.

    “………. I hope you are not saying that we infidels have no right to discuss this delicate issue…. I mean you can’t blame non-Muslims for the shia-sunni conflict, or can you?……..”
    we all have the right to discuss. I dont have any problem with that…. And no I dont blame non muslim. I’ll blame those ” Muslim” who want to create a war for the sake of their own throne and who are using the religion as a “tools” of politics as StrangeOne said.

  22. “Spoken like a true Shia! LOL Too bad you don’t get any say, eh? What do you think about those pesky Ahmadiyya?”
    lolz *scratches head* lol i dont think any thing @ lynn

  23. Well, lol, can you think about them for a minute? Are they also ‘real’ Muslims just like the sunni and the shia?

  24. G – It is interesting history, isn’t it? I hate to admit it, but I think Ali got a raw deal. Even so, he was both brave and timid/weak as opposition and caliph. The fact that he let Alysha live after the Battle of the Camel shows a certain restraint rarely seen in those times. From my readings, Bakr comes across as a very mean, violent person, while Omar was a remote, materialistic and uninspiring leader that used family connections to regain control of the Kaaba. Uthman was selected as Caliph because he was there and not Ali, not to mention his many family and marriage connections. In fact, the marriage connections between Mohammad and the 4 rashiduns would make the folks in Arkansas blush. G, I said that not to offend you, but in humor as way way of saying that the intermarriage between all the above was extensive, complicated and often improper by today’s standards. The Sunni-Shia thing is like the Hatfield-McCoy feud but lasting a lot longer and much more bitter.

    Why do you say ‘misinformation’? What is your understanding of events at Karbala? As to my statement in the first paragraph, it was from a blog discussion I had several years ago (at Global Voices Online or maybe Opinion Online?). The other person probably was not aware that Hussein was killed in a battle between Muslims. As I said, it was probably a Sunni because they are somewhat embarrassed about events at Karbala and often their writings attribute his death to the ‘enemies of Islam’, not to the Sunni faction in the dispute between Yazid and Ali’s family. The Shia, on the other hand, are always very clear about events at the Ashura. In fact, Sunnis promote an ‘Ashura’ that is very different from that of the shiites. This, I believe, is misdirection. Anyway, it is interesting stuff.

    I did write a paper on this conflict, focusing on this very subject.

  25. ok, seriously, lets see what is AhMadina. Wkipedia says, “Ahmadiyya (Arabic: أحمدية‎;Urdu: احمدِیہ) is an Islamic religious movement founded in India near the end of the 19th century, originating with the life and teachings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835–1908), who claimed to have fulfilled the prophecies about the world reformer of the end times, who was to herald the Eschaton as predicted in the traditions of various world religions and bring about the final triumph of Islam as per Islamic prophecy. He claimed that he was the Mujaddid (divine reformer) of the 14th Islamic century, the promised Messiah and Mahdi awaited by Muslims.”

    actually he was a fraud. He is the promised Messaiah?? Hmmm, by evidence he was not.
    Completely different from Islam.you belief in Quran and dont belief what It said about prophecy , You belief in Muhammad (PBUH) and dont belief in his words.

    “Are they also ‘real’ Muslims just like the sunni and the shia?”
    very complicated question, when most of the Sunni and Shia scholers are not that much “real” and most of the muslim men and women are completely unknown about the Real Islam. It is complicated for me because most of the man I’ve met was sunni and if you compare them with ‘real’ islam as you mentioned or as I understood they are not in that category because of slightly fallen from the true Islamic belief.

    What I think and I belief is simply , Ahmadiya Islamia is not true Islam. But I not gonna fight with them for only that.

  26. Fleur, the post is neither unjustified and pointless. The issue of unity between tribes or Arabs, or the conflict between Sunni and Shia are both very relevant to current events in the Middle East and, indeed, around the world. No matter where one stands on these issues, even if not Arab or Muslim, they do have repercussions around the world and affect all of us. Carol is right, what Abdullah is doing is good politics, even if in self-interest. The Shias sure aren’t letting the grass grow under their feet.

    Well, last post for today. Got to get a plane to tonight Vegas not because I am going to throw money at them, but because my 88 year old aunt says she is going to drive back to Phoenix and I don’t think that is a good idea. So I fly in Friday night and return by car at 7 am Saturday. I doubt if I’ll even see the inside of a Casino or get a free margarida from those girls in mini-skirts. Gladiator, you would like Las Vegas, it is a feast for the eyes, for sure, but one must keep hands in pockets at all times.

  27. “Sunnis promote an ‘Ashura’ that is very different from that of the shiites. This, I believe, is misdirection. Anyway, it is interesting stuff.”
    lol lil knowledge is a……. , well dear Ashura was not only promoted by Sunni… Please type “Ashura” on Google search box. And you will get the Ashura things. it is another misinformation as your “Trinity Doctrine in verse of Quran” was and as your Karbala theory is.
    if you are interested in Ashura and shia-sunni believe regarding this, you can visit the link below.
    http://www.iqrasense.com/islamic-history/ashura-of-muharram-a-shia-and-sunni-muslim-observance.html

  28. Jay,you should have your own show. You make me laugh!

  29. “Gladiator, you would like Las Vegas, it is a feast for the eyes, for sure, but one must keep hands in pockets at all times.”
    lolzzzz thanks Jay, let me buy my own Boing first!!

  30. @Jay – ‘but one must keep hands in pockets at all times.’

    Your OWN pockets!! Jay be careful how you state things. You know how things get distorted when talking about The Great Satan 😉

    But that’s awful nice of you to go pick up your aunt like that. Good luck at the tables!!! Ooops, I’m sorry, I forgot, you said you wouldn’t see the inside of a casino didn’t you? wink, wink.

  31. Oh brother, I don’t even know where to begin.

    The article is very poorly written and sometimes I had to go back and re-read and make sure that the authors aren’t saying what they are saying in a sudden fit of sarcasm. Gems such as these:

    “King Abdullah has issued a series of decrees to protect the internal security of the Kingdom in the face of the uprisings in Tunis, Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen. Involving the disbursement of hundreds of billions of dollars to ready the Kingdom for conflict with Iran, these orders can be grouped into three type

    Satisfying the citizenry through salary increases and other incentives. (LIKE, BRIBING??? HERE’S SOME MONEY, PLEASE DON’T GO TO THE STREETS RIOTING AGAINST ME)

    Satisfying the armed forces through creating more than 60,000 new officer level positions, offering promotions for military officers whose promotions had been on hold due to the lack of vacancies and the creation of a new committee to solve the problems of members of the army and police. (LIKE, BRIBING THE ARMY SO IT DOES NOT TURN AGAINST ALSAUD?)

    Most importantly, a series of decrees providing more funding and powers to strengthen the authority of the Wahhabi religious establishment; including an order directed to the media to refrain from criticizing or challenging the religious establishment and to support the Commission for the Enforcement of Religious Law. (LIKE, CLAMPING DOWN ON WHAT LITTLE FREEDOM OF SPEECH EXISTS?)

    Overall, not surprising and very predictable. What IS surprising is the extend to which certain scholars are gulping down the alsaud cool-aid. Unity of Sunni Muslims? Note the repeated attempt to cast Sunni Muslims as the true Muslims, and conversely, the Shias as the ones who ought not even be mentioned. As if the Sunni-ruled countries are not inhabited by significant Shia minorities!! The Eastern Province of KSA is full of Shia who are treated badly by AlSaud. Bahrain is a Shia majority country ruled by the Sunni dictator. The list goes on. Why pretend that “Arab” countries are purely Sunni? To dehumanize the Shia that do live there?

    Anyway. Look at the authors and go, ahh, why do I care. Visiting scholar at Catholic University (third-rate school located in Washington ghetto)? M.A. candidate at American University in a one-year program? Whatever. Couple of nobodies.

  32. @ Strange One: Yes, throughout history, there are recorded evants of Christians taking up against Christians. The occasions were Catholic against Protestant and it was about politcal power and control. Other than in Ireland, where this conflict still exists, please give an example where Christians fight Christians today.

  33. @Linda,
    To be honest I don’t know. As I said before, however, I do not think religion is the main reason behind the wars (although it may be used as a tool for those in power). I believe a lot of the “Muslim” wars today have more to do with political power, control over resources, etc. and not necessarily “religion”. However, that doesn’t mean they won’t be prejudiced against those who are from a different sect of Islam. However, in this respect, the same thing is true with Christians.

  34. ‘Other than in Ireland, where this conflict still exists’

    Religion has no more to do with the ‘conflict’ in Ireland than the color of hair does. It was about nothing more than power and control with the British (who happened to be Protestants) controlling the (Catholic) inhabitants of the conquered island. Whereas the suicide bombings of Shiite pilgrims etc IS about religion and protecting the world from these miscreants that call themselves ‘Muslims’

  35. The Sunni Shia divide is mostly political as is the Irish trouble. It’s about who has the power. And yes- in both cases there are doctrinal and ritual differences that people will argue about, but bottom line it’s political in both cases.

  36. oh really Lynn only ‘ real muslim ‘ are committing crime by the name of Islam?? Christian was never been there?? Ok buddy visit the link below….
    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_terrorism

  37. @gladiator – ‘oh really Lynn only ‘ real muslim ‘ are committing crime by the name of Islam??

    Huh? I didn’t say that.

    @Sandy – ‘in both cases there are doctrinal and ritual differences that people will argue about, but bottom line it’s political in both cases’

    Of course there are BUT, those doctrinal and ritual differences are NOT brought up in the case of Northern Ireland. But Shias can be killed just for practicing their religion with the purpose being to stop the blasphemy that they spread. Religious doctrine had nothing at all to do with the conflict in Northern Ireland. That’s not to say that individuals on either side didn’t take jabs or poke fun at the other’s religious practices. The Sunni Shia divide BEGAN, after the death of Mohammed, as political but considering that there is no ‘caliphate’ there is no reason for a ‘political’ difference so all we have left is religious differences and it is bad enough that they have to kill those who practice the religion in a ‘misguided’ manner.

  38. This is a very interesting story about how a Canadian Imam was arrested while leading prayers with his group at Haj. Interestingly the Imam is Shiite
    http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/10/31/canadian-imam-released-after-arrest-in-saudi-arabia-report/

  39. ‘Interestingly the Imam is Shiite’

    Well, who else would it be? No self respecting ‘real Muslim’ would be caught praying near a grave!! 😉

  40. Wendy, I saw that article on FB this morning and shared it. I thought it was interesting because the imam had spoken in favor of the Bahrainis earlier this year when they dared protest. Now it seems the Saudis have tracked him down and are punishing him for this. Kinda scary if that’s the reason they beat him up and arrested him.

    “We’ll invite this guy here for hajj and teach him a lesson to not go against our people in Bahrain.” *evil laugh*

  41. What is FB, Lynn?

  42. Actually I was the one who used it. Sorry. Facebook

    I subscribed to Al Jazeera English on Facebook so their stories go to my news feed and I saw that one and shared it.

  43. Right – and I’m sorry I said Lynn rather than you. 🙂

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