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The Saudi state and the export of jihad
According to a report released in June 2013, commissioned by European Parliament's Directorate General for External Policies, various groups and charities based out of the Middle East support various extreme ideological outfits all over the Islamic world and beyond. They support spreading Wahhabi and Salafi forms of Islam. The support to various outfits by these charities, organizations and Middle Eastern governments is of the order of tens of millions of USD annually.

It is estimated that the Saudi Arabia alone has channeled almost 10 billion USD worth of funds till now to support religious extremism in various Muslim-dominated society. A report published by the US State Department in 2006 also voiced the same concerns that Saudi donors and unregulated charities had been a major source of financing to extremist and terrorist groups over the past 25 years.

The nexus between Arab charities promoting Wahhabi and Salafi traditions and the extremist Islamic movements has emerged as one of the major threats to people and governments across the globe; both Muslims and non-Muslims; Western and others; rich and poor. From Syria, Mali, Afghanistan and Pakistan to Indonesia, a network of charities is funding militancy and mayhem to coerce Muslims of diverse traditions to conform to the Wahhabi and Salafi traditions. Pakistan especially has been the victim of the global jihadi players playing their bloody game in the region. But Pakistani military and intelligence elites have embraced jihad as one of their main strategies to spread their influence and have re-exported hard-line Islam and fundamentalism to various nations. This affects almost every nation in the subcontinent, particularly India.  

While the Saudi Arabia being the home of Prophet Mohammad and also the holiest shrine in Islam; Mecca and Medina, being there may compel it to think and conclude that it is its religious obligation to spread the early post-Mohammedan era pure Islam all over the world but it requires rethinking on their behalf and at least a qualification of self-acclaimed mandate. The Saudi calculation that the US needs it most in these trying times in the Middle East is only half-correct. The fact is that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has become critical for the US and for the rest of the West as well in this ongoing conflict in and around the Islamic societies. While the US today needs friendly relationship with Saudis more than ever before, the fact is that it has to be mutual and reciprocal.

While it is true that spreading purest form of Islam may be the duty of various Saudi individuals, groups and even the government there, the fact remains that whatever happens in the Islamic world does affect the non-Muslims all over the globe. The spreading of ideological and militant jihad may sour Saudi Arabia’s relationship with the rest of the world, particularly with the Western world.

The Islam; both ideological and political, is more divided today than any time in its history. In this rising and conflicting consciousness-driven world and in this social networking sites-dominated public opinion, the demand for fundamentalism could be in vogue but the rich Middle Eastern states should not apply the Western principles of striking a balance between demands and supplies and should not cater to meet the demands regarding fundamentalism and militancy. Fundamentalism is no consumer product. Neither is it passive and neutral for anyone. They should rather think about long-term effects of their ventures.

Therefore, the Saudi Arabia should be cautious when spreading religious Puritanism laced with jihad as the Western governments may react negatively and that could destabilize the Saudi Arabia and therefore, the whole Islamic world. The Saudis have not been granted any kind of immutable and indefinite immunity despite of Mecca and Medina and the al-Saud monarchy is indeed supported by the US, at least in principle and by arms trade and investment promises. Moreover, supporting jihad in other countries may induce similar actions and demands inside the Kingdom and could affect majority-minority relationship there.

If Saudi’s export of jihad starts affecting the Western nations, particularly the US and the UK, then they may consider rethinking their support to the regime. The better thing for all would be that Saudis and others understand the time and consciousness and base their foreign policy more on self-interests. They should dilute religion somewhat in their foreign policy and should act like an attractor and investor for the rest of the Islamic world and should strive to become a society pleasant to rest of the world.

While it is true that in Muslim-majority nations purer Islam is the most stabilizing form of Islam unless and until it does not come into conflict with consumerism and also that it is the purity of Islam which would save more than a billion Muslims after the end of oil in absence of any alternative economic model, the fact remains that the export of extremism could be dangerous for all Middle Eastern nations, including for the Saudi Arabia, and that that they should refrain from supporting armed struggles around the world. More so, if they increase the inter-sectarian conflicts and such a support destabilizes the societies and nations alike. Summarily, the export of jihad is not cost-free even to a rich, influential and powerful nation like the Saudi Arabia. 

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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