Germany: House of Saud Destabilizing Middle East

Germany: House of Saud  Destabilizing Middle East Germany: House of Saud  Destabilizing Middle East

German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel urged Saudi Arabia on Sunday to stop supporting religious radicals, amid growing concern among some lawmakers in Berlin about the funding of militant mosques by the world’s biggest oil exporter.

Saudi Arabia has previously been accused of supplying arms and funding to militant groups fighting in Syria, including Islamic State.  The unusual criticism of the Persian Gulf state follows a report by Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, which suggested that Saudi foreign policy was becoming more “impulsive”, Reuters reported.

Internal power struggles and the desire to emerge as the leading Arab power threaten to make the key western ally a source of instability, according to the BND intelligence service.

 “The current cautious diplomatic stance of senior members of the Saudi royal family will be replaced by an impulsive intervention policy,” a BND memo widely distributed to the German press reads.

Some major newspaper and news agencies stressed the BND’s warning on Saudi Arabia’s role in the region as “destabilizing Arab world’.

  Policy Shift

King Salman bin Abdulaziz and his son Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is also defense minister and second in line to the throne, are trying to prop themselves as “leaders of the Arab world,” the report said.

The criticism comes as Saudi Arabia—a supposedly close ally for the West in fighting terrorism—has adopted a more aggressive foreign policy since King Salman ascended the throne in January. The policy shift was highlighted in Riyadh’s military operations against Houthi fighters in Yemen.

In its memo, the BND said Prince Mohammed risked “overly straining relations with befriended and, most of all, allied states” and other royal family members in his attempt to establish himself in the succession to the throne.

According to the BND intelligence service, internal power struggles and the desire to emerge as the leading Arab power threaten to make the key western ally a source of instability.

The memo focuses particularly on the role of Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the 30-year-old son of King Salman who has been appointed deputy crown prince and defense minister.

The concentration of so much power in Prince Mohammed’s hands “harbors a latent risk that in seeking to establish himself in the line of succession in his father’s lifetime, he may overreach,” the memo notes”, reads an article in British newspaper Telegraph.

The German government rebuked the BND agency for making such suggestions about Saudi Arabia, an important business partner involved in international talks to find a political solution to the Syria crisis.

“We need Saudi Arabia to solve the regional conflicts,” Sigmar Gabriel, the head of the Social Democrats who share power with conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel, told the mass-circulation newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

“But we must at the same time make clear that the time to look away is past. Wahhabi mosques are financed all over the world by Saudi Arabia. In Germany, many dangerous Islamists come from these communities,” he said.

  Ultraconservative Form of Islam

Saudi Arabia follows the ultraconservative Wahhabi form of Islam and some outsiders see it as a cause of the international threat.

Germany is worried about growing support for Salafism. The domestic intelligence agency says the number of Salafists has risen to 7,900, up from 5,500 just two years ago.

Another senior Social Democrat, Thomas Oppermann, also homed in on Saudi Arabia, saying Wahhabism offered an ideology for IS insurgents and contributed to the radicalization of moderates.

“We don’t need or want it in Germany,” he told the weekly Welt am Sonntag.

In a statement, the Saudi Arabia Embassy in Berlin said the kingdom was interested in countering the radicalization of young people and referred to a previous statement in which it denied wanting to build 200 mosques in Germany.

“Like Germany, we are part of the anti-Islamic State coalition and fighting side by side against terror,” it said.

Some terrorist groups, including IS and Al-Qaeda, follow an extreme interpretation of the Salafi interpretation of Islam, of which Wahhabism was the original strain.

Germans are worried about a possible attack on their soil, especially after the bombings and shootings in Paris on Nov. 13 that killed 130 people.

Responding to an appeal from France, Germany is sending reconnaissance jets, a frigate and 1,200 military personnel to join the fight against IS terrorists in Syria. It is not, however, joining US, French, Russian and British airstrikes.

The head of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany said military action was not the way to stop militancy.

“We have sown the seeds of war and it has resulted in terror and refugees,” Aiman Mazyek told the Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung, referring to the war in Iraq which Germany opposed.