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Saudi King warns of civil strife among fellow Muslims due to ISIS

Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz
Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz
Photo by Handout/Getty Images

As the annual Muslim holy month of Ramadan drew to a close in late July 2014, Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud addressed a meeting of senior Saudi leadership figures and religious scholars in Jeddah, reported Clare M. Lopez, former operations officer with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Middle East expert.

Lopez on Wednesday through email to interested media said that the Saudi monarch, who turned 90 on August 1, 2014, spoke during the Eid al-Fitr celebrations to an audience of his closest supporters with serious warnings of Fitna.

“While an official statement aimed at the overall international community had been read out on his behalf on Saudi state television on Friday 25 July 2014 in which he called the Israeli Operation Protective Edge in Gaza as "a war crime against humanity," at the Jeddah meeting, Abdullah returned to a theme that apparently concerns the Saudi royals even more than Gaza these days, “said Lopez.

“He called it fitna, meaning civil strife among fellow Muslims, but what he really meant was the seemingly unstoppable advance of the Islamic State (IS) that now threatens the borders of the Saudi kingdom.”

Lopez explained, “Back in the 2011-2013 time frame, the Saudis, along with the Qataris and Turks, had been among the early supporters of what was then known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), when the hard-core Salafi militia was seen as the best chance for ousting the Iranian-backed regime of Syria's Bashar al-Assad. But after al-Qa'eda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri officially broke ties with the group in February 2013 because its Iraqi leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, refused to confine his activities to Iraq, ISIS began a savage rampage across Syria that eventually in June 2014 drove southward into Iraq as well.”

The speed of the ISIS advance spread shock and alarm throughout the region. Division after division of the Iraqi army, trained and equipped by the U.S., collapsed and fled, abandoning large quantities of top-of-the-line tanks, vehicles, and weapons to ISIS, “Lopez said. “On 29 June 2014, with an ever-expanding swath of territory now fallen to his forces, al-Baghdadi proclaimed the establishment of a Caliphate (The Islamic State – IS).”

She went on to say, “Shariah and the so-called 'Conditions of Umar' (the dhimma conditions) are brutally enforced everywhere under its control, sending hundreds of thousands of Christians, Shi'ites, Yazidis, and other minorities fleeing IS's merciless demands to "convert, pay the jizya, or die." Atrocities not seen on such a scale for many decades include the Islamic hudud punishments of amputations, crucifixions, flogging, and stoning, plus beheadings (even of children), sexual enslavement of captured women and the wholesale slaughter of prisoners.”

Lopez said that King Abdullah cited the Qur'anic passages to condemn in the bluntest terms the "tumult and oppression" that IS is spreading.

The Qur'anic passages said, “Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors. And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have Turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, slay them. Such is the reward of those who suppress faith.

But if they cease, Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. And fight them on until there is no more Tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah; but if they cease, Let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression. (Qur'an 2:190 – 193)”

Lopez stated that the Saudi Kingdom has been distressed by what IS is doing given the un-Islamic lifestyles enjoyed by many Saudi royals and that the Saudi King directed his message at the Muslim community as a whole, but called specifically upon "Muslim leaders and scholars of the Islamic nation to carry out their duty towards Allah Almighty and stand in the face of those trying to hijack Islam and present it to the world as a religion of extremism, hatred and terrorism."

“The U.S. was drawn back into the Iraqi theater in early August 2014 to mount air strikes against IS forces threatening genocide against some 40,000 Christians and Yazidis trapped without food, water, or shelter atop Mt. Sinjar in northern Iraq and perhaps moving as well on Kurdish-held Irbil, where the U.S. has a consulate,” Lopez said.

“The Obama administration is floundering badly, responding only in haphazard fashion after public outcry about women and children dying on the mountain prodded it into action, “Lopez said. “But that action—limited for now, but in obvious danger of succumbing to mission creep—is no substitute for a coherent policy that outlines compelling U.S. national security interests and then implements an effective strategy to defend them.”

“Beyond this, the latest round in the Islamic world's 1300 years of incessant chaos and warfare should be left to the belligerents to sort out. Regimes like Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey that play all sides of the jihadi games have enabled a monster in IS that they can no longer control. They should be allowed to reap what they've sown. U.S. leadership has proven incapable of sorting out who's who or who's backing whom—not that it's so simple, but rather that understanding who we are should probably come first, followed by some intensive thinking about a new national security strategy that prioritizes American interests.”

Lopez outlined strategic U.S. policy priorities in the Middle East and other information that can be read here.

Meanwhile, the GateStone Institute reported on Monday that Muslims in Germany are now engaged in a Holy War where supporters of the jihadist group "Islamic State" (IS) have clashed with Kurdish Yazidis in North Rhine-Westphalia, the state with the largest Muslim population in Germany.