Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Hey WSJ, you seriously think that Saudi Arabia fears Islamic extremism?

My friend Nir Rosen was gobsmacked by the first sentence of an article in the Friday edition of the Wall Street Journal that said, “Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates … fear the U.S. is opening the door for Islamist groups to gain influence and destabilize the region.” Here is his comment. By Nir Rosen ...

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My friend Nir Rosen was gobsmacked by the first sentence of an article in the Friday edition of the Wall Street Journal that said, "Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates … fear the U.S. is opening the door for Islamist groups to gain influence and destabilize the region." Here is his comment.

By Nir Rosen
Best Defense guest media critic

Saudi Arabia fears "the U.S. is opening the door for Islamist groups to gain influence and destabilize the region"?

My friend Nir Rosen was gobsmacked by the first sentence of an article in the Friday edition of the Wall Street Journal that said, “Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates … fear the U.S. is opening the door for Islamist groups to gain influence and destabilize the region.” Here is his comment.

By Nir Rosen
Best Defense guest media critic

Saudi Arabia fears “the U.S. is opening the door for Islamist groups to gain influence and destabilize the region”?

Saudi Arabia? The most extreme Islamist state in the world (now that the Taliban are removed), the sponsor of extreme Islamist movements from Africa to Europe to Asia? The opponent of Arab and Muslim progressive and liberal thought for decades?

The Saudis are worried about Islamist groups? No. The Saudis used to import Muslim Brothers from Egypt to teach in Saudi Arabia, and that was only after the Wahhabis relaxed a bit and were willing to accept the more moderate Muslim brothers.

This is not about Islamism; this is about regional alliances. Whether it’s the Muslim Brothers or the Communist Party of Egypt who takes over after Mubarak, we can be certain that the new regime will be less of a puppet and less part of the American, Saudi, and Israeli alliance in the Middle East than Mubarak was. This is what the Saudis fear, that the architecture they have carefully crafted with the Americans is crumbling — with Iraq ruled by the hated Shiites, Fatah in Palestine a joke, Iran ascendant, the Saudi proxies in Lebanon a failure. This has nothing to do with Islamism. The authors have it all wrong.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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