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Saudi Arabia: Potential and Fate - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Insofar as one is pleased with the accomplishments of Saudi security authorities, which have seen the shift from merely reacting to terrorist operations to taking the initiative to abort them before they happen, evidence of which is the arrest of 139 terrorists – there still remains one question that irks observers: How do these groups emerge in society despite all security efforts?

I once asked a Saudi security official, “Are your efforts sufficient?” to which his reply was quick and frank, “of course not… do you think we can do everything on our own? It is a joint effort…” Interior Minister, Prince Nayef Bin Abdulaziz was right when he said on Sunday that, “Security is what all people demand worldwide. It is the basis of everything. The economy, which the most important aspect of life, can only thrive in a secure climate.” This is true and important, particularly as we witness Saudi efforts to boost economic prosperity.

Thus the question is: who is behind these ideas, ensuring that they proliferate despite all the efforts being made? Some say that the aggravated Arab issues and media broadcasts are responsible for stirring up the youth’s sentiments, but the question is; why us? Why it is only Saudi Arabian youth who are held accountable to respond to every misfortune that afflicts the Arab world?

Furthermore, as long as the youth have the sense and the will to eliminate what they perceive as injustice – and much of it is so – why is this potential not harnessed and channeled into the pursuit of knowledge, which is the strongest fortress for those who want to progress.

Consequently we ask; where is the intellectual war in the full sense of the word? In Saudi Arabia, national dialogue began as an open and frank discussion that dealt with issues one never imagined would be tackled publicly. Some of these problems, though seemingly complicated, were ventilated after they saw the light; others await solutions.

However, Saudi efforts on an intellectual level are still a critical requirement. This is not a reference to trends, neither is it to the Islamists and the liberals, rather it is one about home security, and the sacred blood of the nation’s sons – a red line. But apart from all of the above, everything should be open for dialogue, away from defamation, backstabbing and distrust, since all people in Saudi Arabia are united by their faith in God and it would be irrational to imagine that Saudi Arabia is detached from religion.

The attempts of terrorists to regroup and carry out assassinations, especially as the timing of their detention, according to the Saudi Ministry of Interior’s statement, shows that they responded to Osama Bin Laden’s call to execute assassination operations, which specified names and techniques, all of which was aired as footage by Qatar’s Al Jazeera channel on April 23, 2006. This is what marked a new stage of fighting against the Saudi state and undermining its status.

This is proof of the necessity to build an intellectual shield to protect against the approach that deviates. This can only be achieved through decisions and intellectual revisions to be made by specialists, which are sometimes strict but always serious and lacking in suspicion or distrust, so as to guarantee everyone’s right to discussion. The starting point should be the mosque, with all that goes on inside it, and education, that is, curriculums, teachers and educational mechanisms.

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.

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