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If Hillary Clinton wins, it may be Gold for Zakir Naik via Saudi Arabia route

Dr Naik has fallen on bad days because the West and their clients like Saudi Arabia have badly bungled in Syria

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Dr. Zakir Naik. Image Source : Wikimedia Commons
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August 27, 2016: The Islamic evangelist Zakir Naik with rock star ratings, could be only temporarily in trouble. Come November and he may be able to find apologists in the NDA government.

What has the month of November got to do with the government? Because, like the rest of the world, New Delhi is waiting for the outcome of the US elections. A Hillary Clinton victory will end the nail biting suspense globally, and in Israel and Saudi Arabia, there may be celebrations. Naik’s patrons in Saudi Arabia are perhaps low today, but they could bounce back with a Clinton victory.

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The Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) and The Clinton Foundation have another link: considerable sums for their respective Foundations have come from Saudi Arabia.

Naik has been officially in the business of evangelism since 1991 when IRF was established. That year Manmohan Singh’s New Economic Policies brought New Delhi in line with the US. George Bush Sr was the President. The Bush family’s extraordinary interests in Saudi Arabia continued during the Clinton years.

King of Saudi (King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud) and Dr Zakir Naik. Image source: IRF
King of Saudi (King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud) and Dr Zakir Naik. Image source: IRF

An economically “reformed” New Delhi looked at Washington for almost every foreign policy lead. Since the Saudis could do no wrong in US eyes, New Delhi adopted the same public stance towards Riyadh. Zakir Naik preached in the Salafi-Wahabi idiom, favoured by the House of Saud. Little wonder, successive Indian Prime Ministers were advised to look the other way.

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During days of breathless adoration for the US, particularly when the nuclear deal was being negotiated, what registered in South Block was an unstated message from Washington: tolerate Saudi Arabia and its interests. Zakir Naik had Saudi protection. Therefore, his evangelism was acceptable to India for the past 25 years. Wahabism-Salafism was kosher when, on cue, New Delhi was voting against Iran in Vienna.

Naik has fallen on bad days because the West and their clients like Saudi Arabia have badly bungled in Syria. Jointly and singly they financed and armed all manner of extremist groups. Their search for a “moderate opposition” remained a pipe dream.

The blowback from the Syrian, Libyan (earlier Iraqi and Afghan misadventures) continued to plague the Saudis. Ultimately, to run away from themselves, they leapt into the bubbling Yemen cauldron.

Destroyed countries and civilizations created a migration problem, an Exodus of Biblical proportions, causing Europe to shuffle out of its old coil. Two party political structures, secured a long time ago, began to crumble.

As if all of this were not unsettling enough, the Americans have just come up with an unconvincing Republican nominee for President and a Democratic nominee who is by her own admission “unloved”. Even The Economist, that pillar of the Western liberal establishment, has pulled out from the dictionary adjectives of an extreme nature to describe Hillary Clinton: “dishonest”, “untrustworthy”.

In brief, the West has its own crises to worry about. The Saudis had already come down a notch or two when the Iranian nuclear deal was signed. And now, the mess in Europe and the US has pushed Saudis away from the West’s attention radar.

New Delhi, which keeps a steady gaze on Washington and its changing moods, has shrewdly noticed Riyadh’s fall from grace. Naik can now be taken to task. The change of heart on the evangelist also signals something important: New Delhi now feels secure in the thought that Sufism and mild Hanafi Sunnism most characterize Indian Muslims. Wahabism-Salafism is remote from the wider Islamic practice among India’s Sunnis.

Hillary Clinton. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Hillary Clinton. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Riyadh may be down, but it would be premature to count it out. After all, should Hillary Clinton enter the White House, who knows what might she not do for “Israel’s security”. Her email released by Wikileaks confirmed that the Obama administration had deliberately provoked the civil war in Syria as “the best way to help Israel”.

In an earlier email, she said: “The best way to help Israel deal with Iran’s growing nuclear capability is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad.”

“Overthrowing Bashar Assad” was the one point theme former Saudi spy chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan had been instructed by the late King Abdullah to pursue. Typical of Prince Bandar’s style of diplomacy, he turned up at the Kremlin on a secret mission. He promised Putin a “terror-free” Sochi Olympic games if only he could have Assad’s head on a platter. Bandar was sidelined because he could not deliver on Syria.

So long as the Israeli military point of view is part of Western strategic thinking, a regime change in Damascus must re-surface as a Washington priority, should Hillary Clinton win.

Such an operation would require coordination with the Saudis as well. In other words, the current nosedive in Saudi saliency maybe quite as dramatically arrested. Zakir Naik’s protectors in Riyadh may yet be able to stiffen their sinews and summon up the blood. Good for Naik. Also, Delhi will then have to place Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s concerns in the balance. Apparently, Naik’s evangelical mesmerism is causing concerns in Dhaka where acts of terror have picked up in frequency, allegedly influenced by his eloquence. (IANS)

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  • Kabir Chaudhary

    If that’s the case, India needs to more careful.

  • Jose Hussain

    BS journalism – Indian propaganda

    • Beating Vegas

      I’m sure most of the rational world is a propaganda to you…seek some entertainment and live….we don’t need your types to have us live like animals too

Next Story

Despite Pleas From Senate, U.S. President Donald Trump Stands By Saudi Prince

Trump said he could abide by legislation ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led war effort in Yemen

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Donald Trump, Prince
U.S. President Donald Trump sits for an exclusive interview with Reuters journalists in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington. VOA

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he stood by Saudi Arabia’s crown prince despite a CIA assessment that he ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and pleas from U.S. senators for Trump to condemn the kingdom’s de facto ruler.

Trump refused to comment on whether Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was complicit in the murder, but he provided perhaps his most explicit show of support for the prince since Khashoggi’s death more than two months ago.

“He’s the leader of Saudi Arabia. They’ve been a very good ally,” Trump said in an interview in the Oval Office.

Saudi Arabia Prince
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends the second day of the Future Investment Initiative conference, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. VOA

Asked by Reuters if standing by the kingdom meant standing by the prince, known as MbS, Trump responded: “Well, at this moment, it certainly does.”

Some members of Saudi Arabia’s ruling family are agitating to prevent MbS from becoming king, sources close to the royal court have told Reuters, and believe that the United States and Trump could play a determining role.

“I just haven’t heard that,” Trump said. “Honestly, I can’t comment on it because I had not heard that at all. In fact, if anything, I’ve heard that he’s very strongly in power.”

While Trump has condemned the murder of Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and Washington Post columnist who was often critical of MbS, he has given the benefit of the doubt to the prince with whom he has cultivated a deep relationship.

Trump again reiterated on Tuesday that the “crown prince vehemently denies” involvement in a killing that has sparked outrage around the world.

Khashoggi, Prince
Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi speaks during a press conference in Manama, Bahrain. VOA

Trump has come under fierce criticism from fellow Republicans in the Senate over the issue, particularly after CIA Director Gina Haspel briefed them. Last month, the CIA assessed that MbS ordered the killing, which Trump called “very premature.”

“You have to be willfully blind not to come to the conclusion that this was orchestrated and organized by people under the command of MbS,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally, said last week.

Meeting with Senators

Graham and other senators who have supported the U.S.-Saudi alliance over the years have said that Trump should impose more sanctions after a first round targeted 17 Saudis for their alleged role in the killing in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

USA, Prince
Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks to reporters after a closed-door security briefing by CIA Director Gina Haspel on the slaying of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and involvement of the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, at the Capitol in Washington. VOA

As the Senate considers this week a joint resolution condemning the crown prince for the killing, something that the president would have to sign or veto if passed by Congress, Trump said he would meet with senators.

Trump said he hoped senators would not propose stopping arms sales to the Saudis, deals he has doggedly fought to save ever since the gruesome details of Khashoggi’s murder were leaked by Turkey.

“And I really hope that people aren’t going to suggest that we should not take hundreds of billions of dollars that they’re going to siphon off to Russia and to China,” Trump said.

Also Read: The Khashoggi Killing Creates Differences Between Trump And U.S. Lawmakers

Trump said he could abide by legislation ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led war effort in Yemen, a proxy war with regional rival Iran that has led to a deepening humanitarian disaster.

“Well, I’m much more open to Yemen because frankly, I hate to see what’s going on in Yemen,” Trump said. “But it takes two to tango. I’d want to see Iran pull out of Yemen too. Because – and I think they will.” (VOA)