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Bandar beat down - Chief Saudi cleric says fighting in Syria wrong

By Michael Collins - Posted on 29 October 2013

"This is all wrong, it's not obligatory [to fight the Syrian government].  These are feuding factions and one should not go there. I do not advise one to go there."  Grand Mufti Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh, Saudi Arabia

saudiflagAfter weeks of agitation for increased attacks on the Syrian government and its president, Bashir al-Assad, the Saudis signaled a 180 degree change in policy, based on the mufti's statement.  Fighting with the Syrian rebels is no longer a sacred cause, it is something to be avoided, according to the Kingdom's most important Muslim cleric.

The mufti is not some closet liberal in the Saudi hierarchy.  He's the top religious official in the Kingdom.  His statements are used to interpret legal and religious policies.  The King of Saudi Arabia, who asked him to speak on the Syrian conflict, appoints him. 

Prince Bandar bin Sultan (aka Bandar Bush) has been recruiting Saudis and Sunnis from around the Middle East, Pakistan, and Afghanistan to fight with the so-called rebel cause in Syria.  This has been a nightmare for the Syrian people.  These are ruthless, religiously inspired jihadists who show no mercy once they've taken over a village, town, or city. 

The statement by the mufti will stop the flow of jihadists from Saudi Arabia.  It also signals a major conflict with the policies of Prince Bandar or, perhaps, a major blow to Bandar's authority and standing.

It is worth watching how this develops.  But, if the policies of the mufti reflect those of the Saudi king (and, of course they do), then the fix may be in.  Jihadists from Saudi Arabia, other Middle East nations, and NATO countries  flocking to Syria to fight the government are a threat to their nations of origin.  Trained fighters, radicalized by the anti Syria jihad, these individuals and groups pose a major threat, to a greater or lesser degree, to their "homelands."

Cutting off supplies and fighters may be the best way to end that threat.  In the case of the United States, despite all the tragedy it has caused, the Syrian conflict is suddenly much less important than a rapprochement with Iran.

The next few weeks will tell the tale but if Saudi Arabia follows the mufti's advice, it's all over for the rebel cause.


Also see, Have the Saudis gone crazy, Michael Collins, Oct 28

Have the Saudis gone crazy?

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