The diary of a Saudi man, currently living in the United Kingdom, where the Religious Police no longer trouble him for the moment.

In Memory of the lives of 15 Makkah Schoolgirls, lost when their school burnt down on Monday, 11th March, 2002. The Religious Police would not allow them to leave the building, nor allow the Firemen to enter.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

The fur is flying 

Things are getting rough in the diplomatic world of the Middle East. The claws are out, the fur is up, and there's lots of hissing.

It all started when Prince Saud Al Faisal went to Washington, and was talking about Iraq over there. You see, the Saudi government has a bit of a problem with Iraq.

Now it had a bit of a problem before with Saddam, but he wasn't going anywhere after 1991, and he was at least a Sunni. The Saudi royal family are also Sunni, and distrust the Shias for 3 main reasons:

- they are, in their opinion, not proper Muslims, being virtually heretics, slapping their chests whenever they get the chance, and other wierd stuff.

- there are an awful lot of them to the north, particularly in Iran, also in Iraq

- but most importantly, there are quite a few in the east of Saudi Arabia, where the oil just happens to be.

So when the prospect of another war in Iraq came up, they were in a bit of a quandary. Do they oppose the war, knowing that the idea of American soldiers in Iraq would go down like the proverbial jug of vomit with 99% of the Saudi population? Or do they support it, and therefore help out those Shia Barbarians at the Gates? A dilemma indeed. If they were betting men they could have tossed a coin, however our coins don't have "heads" because heads are idolatrous, so you always lose. Instead they resorted to the time-honored practice of the House of Saud - they said one thing but did the opposite. In public, they said they were opposed to the invasion, in private they gave it their practical support. Shortly before the invasion, the papers announced that a number of airfields in the north would be closed ("for operational reasons") and all flights in and out would be cancelled. Well of course we are a completely stupid people, and assumed that this was because the Coke machine in the terminal needed refilling, and they had to brush some sand off the runway. So unknown numbers of Coalition troops and supplies went into Iraq via Saudi Arabia.

Now it's all going nasty for them - but why shouldn't it, because it's going nasty for everyone else. For the Coalition, for obvious reasons; for the moderates here, who see another Islamic Republic about to sprout up just north; and for the Saudi government, who see the Shiites getting all that power. And Saud Al Faisal had a little petulant outburst in Washington, that the Iranians (everyone's favorite scapegoat at the moment, but incidentally Shiites) are gaining too much influence in Iraq.

Which caused the Iraqi Interior Minister to weigh into our Prince like someone possessed.

Iraq minister hits out at Saudis

Iraq's interior minister has hit out at a suggestion by a Saudi minister that US policy in Iraq has handed the country over to Iranian influence....The row broke out as a meeting of Arab ministers on Iraq began in the Saudi city of Jeddah.

The Minister said some things that made me wonder if he wrote this blog. Except that I do, of course.

Mr Jabr rounded on the Saudi regime, which he accused of treating millions of women and Shia Muslims as second-class citizens.

Good punch, that shook him up...

They have one god, he is the king, he is the god, and he rules as he likes. A whole country is named after a family.

Go for it, Bayan Jabr, get stuck in...!

This Iraq is the cradle of civilisation that taught humanity reading and writing.....

Yeeaaah, more, more...!

and some Bedouin riding a camel wants to teach us.

Oh, no, Bayan, no. You had him on the ropes, then you completely blew it! Let me explain something to you.

Telling Price Saud that he is a "Bedouin on a camel" is like telling Boy George that he is a "Raging Queer". You have made his day, it's exactly what he wants to hear! You don't think Boy George spends all that money on cosmetics so he can be mistaken for some straight constuction worker with a B.O. problem, do you? Or a librarian with four kids? And in exactly the same way, our Prince would love to be thought of as a "man of the people", someone in touch with our roots, with no airs or pretensions. Which is complete bollocks, of course. The only time he's going to meet a Bedouin is in some stage-managed folk-lore event. He'd run a mile from the real thing. And of course, the real thing doesn't ride a camel, only tourists and boy jockeys ride camels. For our Bedu, it's a Toyota Landcruiser or a Nissan truck, depending on his funds. If our Prince really wanted to meet a real one, all he would need to do, like the rest of us, is drive out on the highway for about 20 miles, turn right, head for the cluster of black tents with assorted camels and goats, and be greeted by a rather scruffy character who tries:

1. To borrow some money, to help pay for his Landcruiser. (Travel Advice: do not lend money to anyone who:
- says he'll pay you back next week
- says his name is Saeed Al Ghamdi
- lives in a very portable tent)

2. To sell you his ratty-looking female goat which, unless you are a complete Townie, looks like it last gave milk before they even had a word for it.

3. To interest you in his daughter, sight unseen, age unknown, personality and temper sadly predictable, in return for an extortionate dowry, as an addition to your collection of wives.

Prince Saud wouldn't dream of mixing with authentically smelly Bedu, goats and camels. But he likes the idea that he could. The last time Princes in this area rode on camels, they were with a strange blue-eyed Englishman, blowing up Ottoman trains. Now he thinks he looks like the young Omar Sharif. Isn't it really annoying when your insults go so badly wrong?

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