Category Archive: Opinions & Editorials
Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)
Shooting down of a Russian warplane by Turkey on Tuesday could not have come at a worse time in the most volatile regions of the world. Some view this incident as a giant leap to a wider clash of prides and not necessary war.
At the time of writing these lines, the reports so far received indicated that it was a result of human error. Both sides should have been more cautious and vigilant.
One can say for sure that there will some pieces of information that will never come to the fore. Both Russian pilots have died and according to Moscow, the Russian jet was in Syrian airspace but Ankara rejected the claim saying the Russian plane had violated Turkish airspace.
In any case, it was a tragic incident caused by a number of reasons. When the Russians started air-to-ground operations in Syria, reports only mentioned airstrikes targeting “terrorist” strongholds. There was no mention of airborne radars to control and scan the area prior to the aerial bombardment, which means that Russian jets were operating in the dark.
Another question that arises here is: Why there were no search and rescue helicopters, which are also supported by air cover. And why did they paralyze the air traffic over Lebanon for days to conduct air maneuvers. Is it because they don’t have air surveillance capabilities? The Russians came to a very hot area and should have been operating fully aware of the volatility of the area. Many analysts wonder as to why Russian President Putin talked about being “stabbed in the back” when the Russian plane was shot down. Did he expect his intervention would come at no cost?
As for the Turkish air force, as far as I know if nothing had changed in the past years, they operate under the umbrella of NATO and their F-16 jets do lack some of the avionics that are available to the F-16s that are operated by the US Air Force. So, did the Turkish pilot act prematurely or the Turkish air force has very liberal rules of engagements. And what about their ties to NATO’s general rules of engagements? Turkey is part of the 28-member NATO and as far as we know that any attack on any member is considered an attack on all of them. In other words, the rules of engagements should have some common points under the control of the NATO’s governing body.
In Syria many foreign organizations are operating covertly or overtly, which makes it all the more dangerous and eventually a no-man’s land.
Now, no one knows for sure about the short-and long-term consequences of this incident. Russia and Turkey both enjoy strategic relations. Millions of Russian tourists come to Turkey and they can make a difference in the Turkish economy in addition to the current and future gas pipeline projects.
Truth be told, what happened between Russia and Turkey is not only a Russian or Turkish issue but it is an issue of global significance. The two countries can bury the hatchet and things can return to normal but the opposite is also likely to happen in a region, which is already sitting on a powder keg.
As for the technical aspect of the downing of the Russian jet, it is very important to note why the avionics and the ground controls of both Russia’s SU-24 and Turkey’s F-16 were not utilized properly in the encounters. The Turks and Russians should have known who is who in the air and where in the sky. Turkey says that the authorities had warned the Russian plane more than 10 times and then they opened fire but didn’t the Russian plane notice any electronic lock up indicating the seriousness of the situation.
As I said earlier, the article is written and submitted only few hours after the incident, but, I think grave errors were committed by the Russian pilot by not taking his mission seriously. He was either negligent or overconfident. Or maybe the Turkish pilot was trigger-happy and released his weapon prematurely.
As we have learned from history, WWI started because of one single bullet fired by a single man. WWII started as a war that was supposed to take only two months. We don’t need Russia, Turkey or any other country to add fuel to the fire in Syria. The Russian-Turkish confrontation should be used as a small step toward ending the Syrian nightmare and not to be escalated into a bloody confrontation.
Written by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim. A Giant Leap Toward WWIII? reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al-Mulhim.
Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)
Following the terrorist attacks in Paris and later in Mali, most of the western media outlets were flooded with programs featuring analysts trying to understand the phenomena.
The media outlets appeared to be racing against each other and were coming up with different products to outdo their competitors. During the past few days, I sifted through various reports and articles on the issue of terrorism with a particular reference to the attacks in Paris. I, however, focused on the New York Times for print coverage and for TV coverage I relied heavily on the BBC and Deutshe Welle of Germany.
As expected, Saudi Arabia was portrayed as one of the reasons behind such attacks, which took place in countries far away from the Kingdom — France and Mali. It were not only the Zionist analysts or right-wing imperialists but many so-called Arab nationalists were trying their best to drag Saudi Arabia in something it had nothing to do with. The case of those Arab nationalists is very strange because they are still stuck in the mindset of the 1950s and trying to understand a contemporary issue using an obsolete approach.
These elements always call Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries backward states and see other Arab countries like Syria, Iraq, Algeria, Lebanon and Egypt, as the advanced ones.
Before I go any further, readers should know that Arab nationalism is an ideology that rose during the 1950s. The proponents of this ideology sought political, cultural and historical unity among the Arab people. Their hopes were raised after Gamal Abdul Nasser rose to power in Egypt. His goal was to eliminate what he called “the weak sheikdom monarchs” in the Arab world. His second goal was to liberate Palestine. Iraq was a monarchy that was lost to the bloodthirsty military dictators. Libya went from a stable monarchy to a country ruled by yet another dictator, Muammar Qaddafi.
Thanks to Arab nationalism, the region experienced many coup attempts that caused the Arab world to lose it finest brains who fled to the West and many of them ended up in jails or in front of firing squads. In other words, Arab nationalists only widened rifts among Arab countries.
One question that comes to my mind: What is the relevance of those so-called Arab nationalists after so many failures? The answer is: No relevance at all. They only know how to speak at the top of their voice. They are all talk and no action. You know talk is cheap.
Whenever I hear or see an Arab nationalist talk about Saudi Arabia I would hear naïve words that reflect their ignorance about Saudi Arabia. As a matter of fact, many of them are far removed from reality when they talk about Saudi Arabia. They don’t appear to be aware of the fact that Saudi Arabia is the country hardest hit by terrorism and it is Saudi Arabia that initiated the first international counterterrorism conference with a plan to unite the world against terrorism.
The European media seems to be running out of good and balanced analysts living in Europe. Some of them have shiny titles, but, many of them don’t even know the name of the Saudi capital and many of them have never been to the Kingdom.
Saudi Arabia was and still is holding the most formidable stand against all forms of violence and has the harshest punishments for terrorists whose sole purpose is to kill innocent people.
Use of flowery language cannot hide Saudi role in the ongoing fight against terrorism. It was Saudi Arabia that had raised alarm over the growing threat of terrorism. Simply put, Arab nationalists are naïve and ignorant.
Written by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim. Arab Nationalists — A Naïve and Ignorant Lot reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al-Mulhim.
Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)
It is true that it will take Europe particularly France, a little time to recover and pick up the pieces after the cowardly terrorist attacks that took place last week.
And it is also true that there will be some changes in the European behavior and daily life. It will take time for many families to recover from the loss of their loved ones. Such incidents have usually a huge impact on children.
But the Europe and specially France should know that the last terrorist act was just a prelude to a bigger threat to create a long and lasting headache not only for the Europe but also for the whole world. In other words, it was bait and a well-planned trap. Their goal is to create chaos. So, I say to Europe, don’t take the terrorists’ bait and don’t fall for their trap. We Saudis have seen this bait more than once in the past but refused to fall for it.
In Saudi Arabia, Daesh attacked mosques in Saudi Arabia to drive a wedge between different communities and to tarnish the image of Saudi Arabia. However, Saudis foiled those attempts and showed solidarity with each other and expressed full confidence in their country’s leadership. Daesh failed to create chaos in Saudi Arabia because we knew that it was a bait to create mistrust among people in the Saudi society. This was not their first attempt, as they had tried this several times in the past as well but failed each time.
During the 1990s, Saudi Arabia came under terrorists’ attack twice. In both the incidents, Americans living in Saudi Arabia were the prime targets. One was perpetrated by Osama Bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda and Hezbollah was behind the other. The primary goal of those attacks was to create unrest in the Kingdom and to pit the United States against Saudi Arabia.
Both the terrorist organizations realized that Saudi Arabia was invincible and it was not easy to harm the Kingdom’s stability. For the information of the readers, Osama Bin Laden considered Saudi Arabia as his enemy No. 1. But, he knew that penetrating Saudi society through terrorist attacks wasn’t that easy. So, he prepared the bait for the strongest nation on earth. Yes, I am talking about the good old US and the US took the bait.
On Sept. 11, 2001 four US commercial planes took off from the American east coast heading to the west coast, but never made it to their destinations. We all know the rest of the story. Osama Bin Laden’s real target was Saudi Arabia. He knew that the US would seek revenge. This was why; he recruited Saudis for the heinous mission. Shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks many people around the world knew that the US would attack Afghanistan. And it did. The goal of the US was to eradicate Al-Qaeda from Afghanistan but the US took its actions to a new level one by attacking Iraq. This is when people realized that the US had taken the bait.
During and after the American invasion of Iraq, more vicious terrorist cells were established in Iraq. The Americans built prisons that added to the anti-western sentiments. IS or Daesh was born in Iraq under the watchful eyes of the Americans. Ironically, the most dangerous terrorist organization in the world was born in the so-called American prisons that were supposed to keep terrorists on a leash.
It is sad that the US with its advanced spying technologies didn’t know how to deal with the Iraqi Army after the fall of Saddam Hussein and didn’t know how to use their human intelligence capabilities to know who was friend and who was a foe among Iraqis. And now we have a terrorist organization that is going global.
Without a doubt, France and all Europe will act and react — policies toward refugees may change; intolerance and Islamophobia may increase. But, it is crucial for Europe not to drag itself into a war with the unknown or the invisible. European borders are wide open and no matter how many watchful eyes on the ground, it will be impossible to monitor every soul. The terrorists’ aim is to create friction between all of the Europe and the millions of Muslims living and working in Europe and around the world. We should not help them succeed.
It is true that France and all of the Europe have the right to do whatever is necessary to protect their people, their interests and their land. But it is also important to do it without taking the terrorists bait. Let us think about the roots of such terrorist organization and who is behind it and funding it. The world must join hands to eradicate all terrorist organizations.
Written by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim. Don’t Take Terrorists’ Bait reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al-Mulhim.
It was reported last Sunday that after several complaints concerning administration and finance and several other irregularities, some offices of dawah (the act of preaching Islam) and irshad (guidance) have been closed especially those offices dealing with communities.
A number of recommendations have been made, including the ending of both the collection of funds and the opening of extra offices in residential and commercial areas. The public strongly supports this move. I think that putting such offices on a tight leash is very important. Nobody knows what is going on inside such places and who the people are who are teaching new converts about Islam. In this age of extremism and terrorism, we have to be extremely cautious. I have personally had several unsatisfactory encounters with those associated with such offices.
A few years ago while going to a mosque near my father’s house, a group of five Filipinos asked me where the nearest mosque was located. I told them to accompany me. On the way, I asked them how long they had been Muslims. The average of the five was 17 days. However, their questions shocked me. One asked me whether I was secular or liberal. Another told me that we have to be careful of other Muslim sects and he named a few. I asked him why? And he said the “sheikh” had told him about this. The youngest of the five said that all women who do not cover their faces will go to hell!
Well done, office of dawah and irshad! Extremism and hatred had been planted in the hearts of these five new Muslims. Who knows whether another sheikh may ask them to go and blow themselves up in the name of Islam. These are naive people. I was very concerned and spoke to someone who had connections with dawah and irshad. He just listened and said nothing.
It is clear that we must keep a watch on such organizations so that they are not used by those who wish to further their extremist agendas.
— Reprinted with permission of the Saudi Gazette and Khaled Almaeena. The writer is Editor-at-Large. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter: @KhaledAlmaeena
Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)
A few days ago, an important and interesting convention was held in Dammam. The convention was about the role of conventions and exhibitions in developing trade and industry in the Eastern Province (EP).
The forum was held under the patronage of EP Gov. Prince Saud bin Naif and Prince Sultan bin Salman, president and chairman of the Board of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTNH).
Male and female members of the business community from all across the Kingdom attended the event to hear and see the many ways to promote an industry. Holding exhibitions and conventions in the Kingdom and especially in the Eastern Province will have many benefits for the Kingdom and these benefits are not only economical, but also boost Kingdom’s global image and to educate people about the latest developments in their respective areas of interest.
The Eastern Province is one of the 13 provinces of the Kingdom and covers almost one-third of the total area of Saudi Arabia. It is as large as the US state of Texas with a population of more than four million. And most important is that the Eastern Province has a lot to offer when it comes to the tourism sector because of its beautiful beaches, historical sites and industrial complexes.
Many areas in the Eastern Province are of huge historical and archeological importance. Many of the sites date back to thousands of years. More than 3,000 years ago, the area became one of the most important parts of the world at the time when it connected many civilizations and connected the East to the West. The area is a witness to the old ways of connecting people together when Dilmun civilization was in parallel with Mesopotamia. And the area saw many historical events such as the overtaking of the Sumerians by the Akkadians in 1792 BC. And in the modern days of Saudi Arabia, the Eastern Province played a very big role in transforming the Kingdom into a modern state due to the discovery of oil.
Places and cities like Al-Ahsa, Jubail, Qatif, and Dhahran can become huge economic and industrial tourist attractions. There are miles of green areas with beautiful palm trees in Al-Ahasa or Qatif and there are the most beautiful beaches on the Arabian Gulf Shores. And one should not forget the huge industrial plants in Ras Tanurah and Jubail. In other words, tourism in the Eastern Province if utilized can be both well time spent and very educational.
The Eastern Province is situated close to all the Gulf States. The province stretches from north to south touching Kuwait and Sultanate of Oman and it is also connected with the Kingdom of Bahrain by a modern causeway. This unique geographical location gives it an edge over many other Saudi provinces.
It is important to promote conventions and international exhibitions in the Eastern Province.
The authorities should make efforts to promote such events by streamlining visa procedures so that foreign delegates can obtain visas without difficulty. It is in the interest of the Kingdom.
Written by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim. Promoting Tourism in EP reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al-Mulhim.