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Chop Chop Square

Updated on February 26, 2015

Someone recently sent me an article recounting the latest beheading as a punishment in Saudi Arabia. Having lived in Riyadh for some years (although some years ago) this is old news. Though I guess with ISIS' penchant for a more gruesome form of that technique, its at least newsworthy.

And it is not surprising that IS stalwarts and primaries are Saudis - generally Saudis who are no longer happy with their country's "liberalization". The Saudis have been very actively running malcontents out of the Kingdom for the last 10-12 years. While things were hot with the American efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in Somalia, Yemen, and Palestine, there was something to keep the crazies occupied and focused elsewhere. But with those hobbies winding down in favor of the new Main Event in Syria/Iraq those now well trained and experienced violence junkies have formed a new club. The fact is that al-Qaida's first mission and aim was the overthrow of the al-Saud government and a return to the really hard line policies most of them imagine they remember. IS and all the other splinter organizations are no different. The fact is that the Saudi government has always walked a tight rope between the ultra conservatives and the rest of the world - Arab first and the rest of us some distance behind. I am not being an apologist for the House of Saud, but simply a little bit of a realist. Church raids (and Friday beheadings) were common while we were in Saudi. The Iranians have not had the same extent of problems mostly because the fight with the west has limited the number of people in the last 30 years who have gone west for their education and returned to pollute the political gene pool.

The reality may be that IS is composed primarily of Saudi's no longer welcome in KSA, and probably funded primarily by Saudi's who fear they will no longer be welcome in the future or who are using it to undermine the current government, but are not willing to take up arms rather than their checkbooks. As such, IS' greatest threat is to the Government of Saudi first and the more moderate Sunni governments in the Region (Jordon, Turkey, Kuwait, Bahrain, UAE, Egypt). That threat is followed at a slight distance by any Shi'ite governments (Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas). Unfortunately, the very immediately threat to any non-Sunni sects and other religious bodies in the region is gruesomely real, but it is only a side show - a marketing tool - to IS and its relatives.

The Saudi government (and the other Sunni led governments) considering IS must be very like Park Rangers at Yellowstone watching with alarm an erupting volcano in next door Idaho, while realizing they are sitting on top of the largest active magma pool in North America. The eruption next door is probably only a small offshoot from the bubbling mass beneath their own feet. Every little tremor may be the start of mass and very rapid immolation. If IS spreads to Saudi and the other Sunni nations, the beheadings will be endemic - and not just westerners, but significant portions of the Sunni Arab population that have benefitted from the current governments and are no longer pure enough.

And yet, because the current governments have the most to lose, they are the ones with the best tools to fight IS - not in terms of soldiers weaponry, but in terms on intelligence gathering, government policy, and influence within their own populations. The best method of restricting the IS / al Qaida recruiting pool may not be F-15s and M1s, but reasonable jobs for twenty something Sunnis - policies that every government in the region has been pushing - religiously! The same strategy may be of great use in combatting recruitment here in the UK and the good ole USA Arab communities - get them decent jobs and the rate of teen and twenty something western raised jihadis may diminish rapidly. The current military reaction is unfortunately necessary. Much like the Ebola outbreak, you have to treat the symptoms of the disease to limit the immediate deaths and reduce the rate of spread. But the best solution for long term eradication is development of a vaccine and then vaccinate the general population.


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    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Very interesting point of view with a lot of little-known information. Would love to see this hub dressed up a little with pictures from the public domain.