Saudi media are full of encomia for the late King Abdullah. Articles and op-eds list and extol his virtues and the effects that he had on Saudi Arabia, its government, and society.

The articles, too, go to lengths noting the smooth transition of power to King Salman and the graceful way in which the successor generation is now in place to take over when the time comes. Part of this is to offer reassurance to the Saudi people; part is to thumb a nose at those expecting chaos. Part, of course, is hopeful thinking for the future.

From Asharq Alawsat:

The Saudi Succession

Opinion: Reassuring the People of Saudi Arabia

Opinion: The Passing of a Decisive King

Opinion: Saudi succession ensures stability

From Saudi Gazette:

‘Smooth transfer of power highlights Kingdom’s tradition’

Stability is the name of Saudi future

From Arab News:

King Abdullah remembered for his many achievements

Saudi Press Roundup


January:25:2015 - 08:38 | Comments & Trackbacks (3) | Permalink

Arab News offers a piece explaining who the new Deputy Crown Prince — second in line to the throne — Prince Muhammed bin Naif is. The article gives a gloss on his involvement with the government and the various jobs he has held, as well as his role in Saudi Arabia’s anti-terrorism efforts. It does not mention that he has survived four assassination attempts.

Prince Mohammed’s appointment as deputy crown prince welcomed
RIYADH: MD RASOOLDEEN

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman appointed Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Naif as the second-in-line to the throne, according to a royal decree issued Friday.

Prince Mohammed will be the deputy crown prince in addition to his present portfolio as the minister of interior.

Prince Mohammed bin Naif was born in Jeddah on Aug. 30, 1959. The prince is the son of the late Crown Prince Naif.

During his primary, preparatory and secondary education, Prince Muhammed studied at the Capital Institute in Riyadh. Then he studied in the United States during the university stage. In 1401, he obtained the BA degree in political science from Lewis and Clark faculty in Portland. He attended a number of advanced military courses related to anti-terrorism in the Kingdom and abroad.


January:24:2015 - 07:59 | Comments & Trackbacks (2) | Permalink

There are those within conservative Islam who argue that women have no place when it comes to discussing or analyzing Islam; that’s men’s work. They may have custom on their side, but they don’t have history.

Saudi Gazette translates an article from the Arabic daily Al-Hayat in which the writer points out the actual historic role women have played in the intellectual sphere of Islam.

Ibn Hajr, a man tutored by women
Zainab Ghasib | Al-Hayat

While the rights of women are being violated and so-called scholars who pretend they are learned continue to belittle and distort the image of women, Islam has painted a colorful image of women since the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and up until the last days of the Abbasid Caliphate (750-1258).

Women began to be viewed with disrespect during the Ottoman times in which most rulers enjoyed numerous slave girls and mistresses. Nevertheless, even in that era there were many well-educated female scholars. During the Umayyad Caliphate (661-750) there lived a woman called Sakina Al-Hussain (may Allah be pleased with her). She held classes regularly at her home that were attended by poets, intellectuals and thinkers—people who wanted to learn from her. She judged poets and critiqued poems. More importantly, no thinker or scholar opposed her even though there were many great scholars around at that time.

There was another great woman named Wallada Al-Mostakfi who lived during the last days of the Umayyad Caliphs. She had also opened her home to scholars, thinkers and intellectuals who attended her sessions and learned from her.


January:24:2015 - 07:51 | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Al Arabiya TV provides a pictorial history of King Salman’s political engagement over the decades:

King Salman bin Abdulaziz’s path to the throne in pictures


January:24:2015 - 07:41 | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Al Arabiya TV reports that the public ceremony in which citizens, in various groups, pledge their allegiance to the new King and Crown Prince have taken place in Riyadh. This step assures the public that there are no difficulties with their accession and that they will be considered the legitimate ruler and successor.

Saudis pledge allegiance to new king, crown prince

New Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz received pledges of allegiance from citizens on Friday evening, after the late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz passed away in the early hours of the morning.

Saudi citizens flocked to Governance Palace in Riyadh to pledge their allegiance for King Salman and Crown Prince Muqrin.

After pledging his allegiance, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Asheikh said: “On this blessed day, we pledge allegiance to King Salman bin Abdul Aziz as the legitimate king, Prince Moqren bin Abdul Aziz as crown prince, Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz as deputy crown prince.”

International media are reporting that Pres. Obama is cutting short his visit to India in order to travel to Riyadh, where he will extend his condolences to the royal family. The gaffe of not sending anyone to Paris in the commemorative march following the Charlie-Hebdo tragedy, I think, was not to be repeated.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Obama-wont-see-the-Taj-Mahal-this-time-as-Agra-visit-cancelled/articleshow/46001094.cms


January:24:2015 - 07:28 | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Saudi Arabia’s new king, Salman, has made his first speech, pledging to follow the path of his predecessors. He also called for unity within the ranks of Islam, Asharq Alawsat reports.

The first changes in government have also been announced. The Royal Court sees several big changes, including the replacement of the Chief and Deputy Chief, and appoint his son, Mohammed, as Chief. He also named Mohammed as the new Minister of Defense. The new Chief will make further nominations for changes.

Mohammed Bin Naif has been named Deputy Crown Prince and Second Deputy Prime Minister. This is the first appointment of a grandson of the country’s founder to a position that put him in line for the throne.

King Salman calls for national unity, appoints new Crown and Deputy Crown Prince

Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—New Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz has called for national unity and solidarity following the death of King Abdullah, moving quickly to appoint a new Crown Prince and Deputy Crown Prince. He pledged no change in the Kingdom’s direction, stressing that he will follow the “true approach” of his predecessors.

In his first speech as King, the new Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques said: “I am, God-willing, to carry out this great trust. We will continue, with God’s grace and strength, committed to the true approach which was followed by this state since its inception at the hands of the founder, King Abdulaziz, God’s mercy upon him, and at the hands of his sons after him, God’s mercy upon them.”

“The Arab and Islamic nation is in dire need today of unity and the maintenance of solidarity. We will continue in this country, that God has honored by choosing it as a platform for His message and as the direction Muslims must pray. Our march is to undertake everything possible to keep the unity of our ranks and the unity of word and in defense of our nation’s issues, guided by the teachings of our true Islamic religion which was favored by the Lord to us, the religion of peace, mercy and moderation,” he added.

The article reports that pledges of allegiance to the new king and his successors will take place tonight, following evening prayers in Riyadh.


January:23:2015 - 08:11 | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

All Saudi media are reporting the death of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz and the ascension to the throne of Salman. Prince Muqrin has been named Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister.

King Abdullah is due to be buried later today.

Saudi King Abdullah passes away

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz has passed away, the Royal Court said in a statement early on Friday. Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz became king and Prince Muqrin was declared Crown Prince, another Royal Court statement said.

“With great sorrow and grief His Highness Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and all members of the family and the nation mourn the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, who passed away at exactly 1 a.m. this morning,” the Saudi Royal court statement said.

Funeral prayers will be held later in the day following afternoon prayers at Imam Turki Bin Abdullah Grand Mosque in the capital Riyadh.

Prince Salman declared Saudi Arabia’s king

Another statement said that Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud received the pledge of allegiance as the country’s king from members of the royal family. After that, Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz received the pledge of allegiance as Crown Prince.

Both King Salman and Crown Prince Muqrin will receive pledges of allegiance from citizens on Friday evening.


January:22:2015 - 19:34 | Comments & Trackbacks (7) | Permalink

Saudi Gazette reports that young Saudi women are not content to lead the kind of lives their mothers led. As a result, many are choosing to remain single into their 20s and 30s instead of being married and becoming mothers themselves in their teens. Not everyone is pleased.

Growing number of Saudi single women challenge tradition

JEDDAH — Amna Fatani knows she wants a brilliant career and a life different from that of Saudi women of her mother’s generation who married early, usually to a husband not of their own choosing.

The 27-year-old, studying for her master’s degree at Georgetown University in Washington and hoping to someday realize her ambitions, is part of a growing number of Saudi women choosing to remain single through their 20s and into their 30s as they pursue other ambitions.

The trend has ruffled conservatives who see it as an affront to the very foundations of the Kingdom, where rigid tribal codes have long dictated the terms of marriage.

“My friends and I have reached a point (where) we’re very specific about what we want,” she said. “I need someone who trusts that if I need to do something, I can make the decision to ask for help or choose to do it alone.”

Saudi women stand at the center of a societal pivot between the Kingdom’s push for greater women’s education and rights to work, and laws that give men final say over their lives.


January:22:2015 - 11:34 | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

In an op-ed for Asharq Alawsat (here reprinted by Al Arabiya TV), Abdulrahman Al-Rashed points to Saudi Arabia’s long struggle with religious extremism (for certain values of “extreme”). He notes that just 17 years after the founding of the country, Saudi leaders had to resort to violence to put down a revolt by the Ikhwan, the tribal group that had militarily supported the cause of the Al-Saud, but which had now become a problem when it challenged the government over its policies.

From the Brotherhood of Sabilla to ISIS
Abdulrahman al-Rashed

The Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS), al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda and similar groups are not really states the sense we understand. They are an idea of extremism that unites those who subscribe to it and those who support it in different forms, either with bullets, dollars, words or emotions. There are extremists who may be against taking up weapons, but they agree with violent groups on the ultimate idea and goal, even if they differ on the means to use.

Unlike what’s common in political analysis, extremism and extremists have always represented a threat to the Saudi Arabia. But this truth gets lost in a sea of accusations and the whole image is blurred even to the most well-informed people on the Middle East and Saudi Arabia in particular. This false historical understanding of the friend and the foe is no longer limited to foreigners and Arab propagandists. This false understanding has entered Saudi Arabia itself where some believe it and other extremists promote it. I think extremism is the biggest enemy and is the biggest threat to Saudi Arabia. This is why it’s in our interest to systematically, institutionally and continuously fight it.


January:22:2015 - 11:26 | Comments & Trackbacks (1) | Permalink

Al Arabiya TV runs a Reuters story about a report from the International Monetary Fund on the results of the crash in oil prices. Not only will oil-exporting states like Saudi Arabia be forced to run a deficit, it says, but gains by countries that might benefit from low energy prices will be limited by reduced global activity.

Oil export losses to reach $300 billion in Middle East

Losses from lower oil exports should sap up to $300 billion from economies in the Middle East and Central Asia this year, as countries in the region adjust to falling crude prices, the International Monetary Fund said on Wednesday.

Economies that are particularly dependent on oil exports, including Qatar, Iraq, Libya and Saudi Arabia, will be hit hardest by the more than 50 percent decline in petroleum prices, the IMF said in an update to its outlook for the Middle East and Central Asia.

Oil prices are now hovering near six-year lows amid expectations of an abundance of supply tied to unexpectedly high production of U.S. shale crude.

The IMF said, however, that falling crude prices will not translate immediately into major gains for oil importers in the Middle East and Central Asia, which have been hurt by the slowing growth prospects of key trading partners in the euro zone and Russia.


January:22:2015 - 11:19 | Comments & Trackbacks (1) | Permalink

In an op-ed for Asharq Alawsat, Abdulrahman Al-Rashed muses on the strange state of the world in which Arab audiences cheer Israeli actions against a target that both find repulsive. Israel’s recent attack that killed some of the Hezbollah leadership — and an Iranian general — shows that international politics need not be black and white, on and off. He notes that both Israel and the Arab states are politicking Washington over Iranian nuclear arms and could find themselves allied if Iran does produce atomic weapons. Strange world indeed.

How did we end up cheering for Israel?
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Many have welcomed with cheers the sudden Israeli strike on Sunday that killed six Hezbollah members and a general in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps who, for some reason, were secretly present in Syria’s Quneitra region.

The cheering for this act on social networking platforms is an expression of anger and indignation, and we’ve even sensed these feelings expressed by sympathizers with Islamist groups.

This represents a huge change of feelings about Hezbollah, due to its heinous actions in targeting its rivals in Lebanon and its involvement in the killing of thousands in Syria. Many of those who have shifted from admiring Hezbollah to hating the group did so in less than a decade.

These people used to support Hezbollah in Lebanon in the past and they used to adopt the Shi’ite group’s political and military agenda. Anger began to surface when Hezbollah’s militias occupied west Beirut during the events of May 7, 2008, three years after the party’s involvement in the assassination of Sunni leader Rafik Hariri.

Hezbollah, and also Iran, have lost the respect and status they’ve always enjoyed in the name of Islam, Lebanon and Palestine. Hezbollah’s biggest fall came after its clear sectarian bias in Syria emerged when its members joined the terrible war there, which has killed more than 250,000 people in what is surely the most shameful crime in the history of the region. Iranian involvement in Syria will also have further repercussions.

In my opinion there’s no doubt that if a confrontation occurs between Israel and Hezbollah, or between Israel and Iran, many Arabs will pray for the defeat of Hezbollah’s militias and the generals of its Iranian ally. This strange feeling, even if temporary, reflects the change in the region’s alliances and political stances.


January:21:2015 - 07:16 | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Following the deaths of several Saudi border guards, including a general officer, Saudi Arabi has decided to play hardball. New orders have gone out to the Border Guards directing them that they are not to engage in negotiations, but to shoot intruders. Saudi Gazette reports:

Border Guard given orders to shoot intruders
Mishal Al-Otaibi | Saudi Gazette

RIYADH — Border Guard officers have been ordered to shoot intruders without engaging in any negotiations, said spokesman Maj. Gen. Muhammad Al-Ghamdi.

Iraqi Border officials have been informed of these instructions, which are considered a legitimate right of the Kingdom.

Al-Ghamdi said border officers will implement the instruction to protect Saudi territory and people.

“The instructions were made as a result of regional situation and the latest attacks on Arar borders,” Al-Ghamdi said. The officers are ready for any emergency and will not hesitate to implement the orders given to them.

Earlier this month, militants killed two Saudi Border Guards and their commanding officer in an attack near the city of Arar.


January:19:2015 - 11:08 | Comments & Trackbacks (2) | Permalink
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