Monday, August 09, 2021

Saudi Arabia sentences 69 Hamas members to prison

Hamas is outraged that some 69 members of the terror organization have been sentenced to prison terms in Saudi Arabia. 

Those sentenced include the Hamas representative in Saudi Arabia, Mohammed al-Khoudary, and his son Hani.

The elder Khoudary is said to have been close to the Saudi royal family in years past.

Saudi Arabia arrested scores of Palestinians and Jordanians in 2019 - over a year before the Abraham Accords.

This indicates (but does not prove) that the Saudis were turning against the Palestinian terror groups independently of any potential ties to Israel.

Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Saudis have outlawed that group as a terrorist group since 2014. 

Al Qaeda likewise has its ideological roots in the Muslim Brotherhood, although the Brotherhood claims to have been against violence for decades. 

Obviously, Hamas does not subscribe to that philosophy. Indeed, Hamas' defense of their members in Saudi Arabia has been that they hadn't committed any crimes specifically against the Kingdom.

There are strong indications that the sentences were not handed out with what anyone would consider due process - there are reports that the defendants were denied access to lawyers. By any measure, the Saudi kingdom is one of the worst offenders against human rights in the world. 

On the other hand, the Saudis have to deal with a large population of potential extremists; after all, most of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi and were products of Saudi schooling. They look at Hamas as potentially disruptive to the kingdom as they want to distance themselves from terrorism altogether. 

It doesn't appear that the Saudis arrested the Hamas members for Israel. They have plenty of reason to dislike Hamas anyway, and the kingdom has been steadily less sympathetic to the Palestinian cause over the years. 

If Israel is in the Saudi calculus at all, it is more that the entire Gulf had been moving away from blind support for Palestinians who have been seen more and more to be the real obstacle to peace, not Israel.