November 7th, 2017 – Fort Russ News –
– Op-ed by Amal Saad –
The alt-right has finally found its Arab variant, the Arab-Alt-Right. Despite attempts to depict him as an “enlightened liberal autocrat” thanks to his token social liberalization–which was part of a quid pro quo for Trump’s support– Mohammad Bin Salman has spearheaded this movement, breaking away from the old oil state, Arab Right.
Like its predecessor, the Arab-Alt-Right is conservative, reactionary and neoliberal, but deems mainstream Arab conservatism as insufficiently anti-Shia/ anti-Iranian, hence the fascistic clampdown on potential domestic rivals and the arrests of Lebanon’s Hariri, Yemen’s Hadi, and Syrian opposition leaders in Riyadh, as well as the recalling of Mahmoud Abbas. Like the Euro-American Alt-Right, the Arab-Alt-Right is also identitarian, championing a Sunni Arab nationalism that is based on a revival of doctrinal and ethno-national expressions of sectarianism.
MBS envisages a puritanical Sunni Arab regional order, uncontaminated by the un-Islamic “majoos” (Zoroastrian), “ajam” (Persian), or “outsiders” as Iran is variously called. In an exceptional case of state-sponsored takfirism, the state appointed Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia recently excommunicated Iran, accusing it of being “not Muslim” and of being ”the enemy of all Muslims and Sunnis”.
Of course, like white supremacism, this populist ideology is a mere instrument of political elites who seek to aggrandize power. But what makes the Arab-Alt-Right different and particularly dangerous is that unlike the Euro and American versions, its is not the subject of derision in the liberal West but is touted as “revolutionary”, “liberal” and even “democratic”.
Amal Saad is a Professor of Political Science at Lebanese University. She is an author of numerous works on Hizbullah including Hezbollah: Politics and Religion and The Iran Connection: Understanding the Alliance with Syria, Hizbullah and Hamas