Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Preoccupying the Saudis - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
Select Page

Previously, the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had said – as quoted by “Fars” news agency – that “the media should not be considered a means of communicating information, but rather it serves long term goals at the political level”.

Interestingly, Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda second-in-command, and President Ahmadinejad, share the same view on this subject. Al-Zawahiri had previously said that more than half of Al Qaeda’s battle was taking place in the media realm! Today we can notice the reality [of the media being used as a political tool], with the proliferation of attempts to misinform Saudis, through a specifically designed system of information. When the Council of Senior Scholars in Saudi Arabia reaffirmed in a statement that it was forbidden to incite sedition and unrest in the country, the Iranian media emerged, citing previous fatwas belonging Sunni scholars to refute the Saudi scholars’ decree. This move came in conjunction with increased instances of misinformation found in the Iranian media, albeit in the Arabic language.

These days, Iran is also attempting to undermine the Saudis with regards to another issue, away from the subject of protests, and specifically focusing on petroleum. Iran wants to take advantage of the Libyan crisis that has led to significant increases in oil prices, not to mention the global tremors taking place in the oil markets. Iran wants to compensate for the losses it has incurred due to the economic sanctions imposed on it by the West, and develop its revenue as a result. Therefore, Tehran opposes the idea of increasing [oil] production and maintaining stable oil prices, whilst Saudi Arabia seeks to do the opposite. Because Saudi Arabia is trying hard to support the stability of oil markets, as the country is well aware of the consequences of high oil prices, which, if they were exaggerated, would be disastrous for everyone, whether the producer or the consumer. Riyadh is aware that an exaggerated rise in oil prices may actually lead to the collapse of states, rather than markets. This is of course a battle that is being conducted out of sight [between Iran and Saudi Arabia], and few are aware of its existence.

There is also another story that has preoccupied the Saudis, this time coming from a British newspaper, and perhaps with the help of some of Iran’s allies in our region. An article was recently published claiming that [U.S. President] Obama had asked the Saudis to arm Libyan rebels against Muammar Gaddafi. The article added that Saudi Arabia was yet to respond to the request, but stressed that the Saudis abhor the Gaddafi regime, which once plotted to assassinate King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, when he was the Crown Prince. Is this [U.S. move] conceivable? Of course not, especially as Obama himself announced yesterday that NATO was considering military options against Libya, just as the White House announced that it would be out of the question to arm the Libyan rebels, so how could America secretly ask the Saudis to do so?

Clearly, such news as a whole is preoccupying Saudi Arabia, and bringing it into the eye of the Libyan storm, by saying that the Kingdom is interfering in Libya, or saying that Riyadh is colluding with the United States against another Arab country. As I said, this is a clear attempt to preoccupy and misinform the Saudis at this particular time. But the question here is: why are these masters of misinformation unwilling to reveal to us, for example, the content of a phone call which Gaddafi recently made to another Arab leader, especially since this was Gaddafi’s last contact with an Arab leader?

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

More Posts