ISIS takes aim at America’s unsavory ally, Saudi Arabia

“The crimes committed by ISIS in Syria and Iraq are immense and repulsive,” a controversial discussion on the CBC began. “But while the world condemns ISIS, not so far away a nation routinely punishes its criminals in a similar way. And sometimes the punishment is for acts most people in the West wouldn’t even consider crimes.”

Flagged by Zero Hedge, Newsweek’s Middle East editor Janine Di Giovanni recently joined the CBC from Paris where she discussed the Saudi Kingdom’s policy of lopping off heads in public with swords over relatively minor violations of Saudi law. In the opening week of August, Saudi Arabia sometimes carried out multiple executions per day.

“Charges have included murder, drug smuggling, and sorcery,” Al Jazeera reported.

The CBC asked why the West’s revulsion over ISIS’s murders by beheading has galvanized the international community to action against the abominable Islamic State, but the same response has not resulted from the Saudi Kingdom’s similar affronts to human dignity.

The moral conundrum presented by supporting the Saudis while condemning ISIS for similar activities is one the West could afforded to ignore, but that time may soon be coming to an end. In a 17-minute audio message purportedly from Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi revealed that his organization plans to target the Saudi monarchy next.

Calling it “the land of Haramayn” in his address, or the land of two holy places (the cities of Mecca and Medina), al-Baghdadi listed the targets inside Saudi Arabia his organization planned to attack. Among the first individuals ISIS plans to go after in that country are the minority Shia, a move consistent with the sectarian violence in which the Sunni militant organization has been engaged in Syria and Iraq for months.

Via the BBC:

Saudi officials have long been warning that their country is the primary target of IS.

Having declared itself a caliphate this summer, it was inevitable that sooner or later the group would turn its attention to the largest and most important country in the region.

Saudi Arabia’s supreme religious authority, the grand mufti, has branded IS as the “greatest enemy of Islam”.

A recent op-ed written in the New York Times by Saudis close to the government said: “Saudi Arabia is the only authority in the region with the power and legitimacy to bring IS down.”

Many blame Saudi authorities for the rise of ISIS, because the organization received much of its early funding from pro-Wahhabism individuals inside the Saudi Kingdom. “More than 2,000 Saudi nationals are estimated to have joined the ranks of IS, bringing with them an extreme brand of ‘takfiri’ ideology that views large portions of the population with suspicion and intolerance,” BBC revealed.

Saudi Arabia is no stranger to Islamist terrorism, and there is every reason to believe the state can defend itself against ISIS. America’s political and economic ties with Saudi Arabia remain strong, and Washington would certainly support its military and trade partner despite its decreased reliance on foreign oil as domestic production accelerates.

If the Islamic State does manage to export terrorism to Saudi Arabia, America will have to confront a nasty ethical challenge: Backing one pro-Sunni, medieval, pro-beheading Arabian proto-state against another.