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August 25, 2010 Special Dispatch No. 3188

Former Saudi Ambassador to the U.K. Ghazi Al-Qusaibi Dies; MEMRI Played Role in His Recall

August 25, 2010
Saudi Arabia | Special Dispatch No. 3188

Al-Quds Al-Arabi editor Abd Al-Bari 'Atwan recently published an obituary for Ghazi Al-Qusaibi, who died of cancer at the age of 70 on August 15, 2010. One of Saudi Arabia's best-known writers and public figures, Al-Qusaibi had a long government career and also authored several books, among them novels and poetry. He served as Saudi ambassador to the U.K. and to Bahrain, and as Saudi water minister and labor minister.

MEMRI's translation of Ghazi Al-Qusaibi's poems and statements during 2001 and 2002 sparked a major media backlash against him, at a time of uncertainty regarding Saudi Arabia's role in the war on terror. Reports on MEMRI's translations of Al-Qusaibi's statements, which included support for suicide bombings, ad-hominem attacks on President Bush, calls for war against Israel, and advocacy of torture for prisoners appeared in The Guardian (U.K.), National Post (Canada), National Review, The Washington Times, The Boston Globe (U.S.), and other publications. As a result, in September 2002, he was recalled from his post as ambassador to the U.K., and was appointed Saudi water minister.

Below are Al-Qusaibi's poem praising suicide bombers and excerpts from his obituary by 'Atwan, followed by reports from the MEMRI archives on other Al-Qusaibi's writings praising suicide bombings and jihad.

Special Dispatch No. 372 – The Saudi Ambassador to London's Ode to Suicide Bombers

On April 13, 2002, Ghazi Al-Qusaibi published a poem in the London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat criticizing America and praising suicide bombers. The following is the text of the poem:

"The Martyrs"

"May Allah witness that you are Martyrs,
[May the] Prophet and Holy men witness to that
You died to glorify the word of my God
In the land that was glorified with the Israa[1]
Did you commit suicide?
[No] We are those who committed suicide
In a life whose dead are [still] living.
[O] Our nation: we have died
Let us hear what eulogy says about us.
We failed until failure was fed up with us…
We wept until tears got tired of us…
We knelt down until kneeling got disgusted…
We pleaded until pleading asked for assistance…
We complained to the idols in a White House
full of darkness
We kissed Sharon's shoes,
He cried: Slowly, you are tearing my shoes;
Please!
O nation we are dead…
But mother earth refuses to accept us…
Tell Ayat,[2] the bride of heaven…
Everything that is beautiful we are ready
To sacrifice for your eyes…
The pure of our nation confronts the criminal…
When the steeds are castrated.
[Ayat] The beautiful – kissed her death
While smiling with good tidings…
At the time when our leaders escape death
Paradise opened its doors
And Fatma, Al-Zahra received you… [Ayat]
Tell those who issued 'the Fatwas'
Against Jihad:
'Don't rush!' perhaps your 'Fatwa' will be rejected by Heaven
When the call comes for Jihad
It is a time for the ink and paper,
For the books and the 'Learned men'
To be silent.
When the call comes for Jihad
There's no need for a referendum or a 'Fatwa.'
The Day of Jihad is the Day of Blood."

Al-Quds Al-Arabi Editor: Former Saudi Ambassador to U.K's Poem Praising Martyrs Was Landmark in His Life

Following the death of Saudi labor minister and former ambassador to the U.K. Ghazi Al-Qusaibi, Abd Al-Bari Atwan, editor of the London daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, wrote on August 16, 2010 that the most important landmark in Al-Qusaibi's life in London was the publication of his poem "Martyrs." In the poem, Al-Qusaibi praised suicide bomber Ayat Al-Akhras, who carried out a 2002 attack in Jerusalem in which three Israelis were killed. Atwan noted that following the publication of the poem, Al-Qusaibi was attacked "cruelly" by the Jewish lobby in Britain, and that Atwan defended him from "the political and ideological terror attack."[3]

Special Dispatch No. 251 – The Saudi Ambassador in London: 'We Must Not Rule Out the Option of War with Israel'

On June 9, 2001, Ghazi Al-Qusaibi wrote a column in the London daily Al-Hayat advocating for the possibility of war with Israel. He wrote:[4]

"… An enemy who can know for sure that the behavior of his rival will not stray in any way from a certain framework, can freely act against him. The situation is different when this certainty doesn't exist.

"I am sure that this situation exists today between Israel and the Arab states. On the one hand, the entire world is under the impression that Israel, regardless of [which party] is in government, can at any given moment carry out an insane military action capable of igniting the entire region. On the other hand, the Arab states have become trapped in a series of agreements, summits and declarations – in the cage of peace, no matter what. You don't have to be a genius to understand that under these circumstances, Israel can 'carry on' as much as it likes. They do this consistently without fearing any true Arab reaction.

"… In essence it is a mental helplessness that comes from the fear of entering a military confrontation with Israel. Removing this mental helplessness will lead, as if by magic, to a surprising change in the balance of power.

"Why are we afraid of a comprehensive war with Israel? Why has the mere talk of comprehensive war with Israel turned into forbidden territory? Why do we believe that the thought, the mere thought of this option, is a dangerous and irresponsible act?

"It is true that there will be no war without Egypt and it is true that there is a peace agreement between Egypt and Israel. But since when have peace agreements deterred the outbreak of a war, when from the point of view of the leaders, the highest national interest entails the need for war? The undeniable truth is that the Egyptian leadership has once again begun to seriously consider the possibility of war…

"What could be better than a repetition of what happened in 1973? What we need is Egyptian-Syrian cooperation, with the back up of the oil states with their oil, and the rest of the Arab states, each according to its ability. Such a military confrontation, especially while the Intifada is going on, and at a time when the possibility of the Arab community within Israel to take action, will turn all the tables and all of the facts upside down.

"I am not a supporter of war, but I warn you that entirely ruling out the option of war from the agenda, is the surest guarantee for the continuation of Israel's superiority – and with it the arrogance, the bloodshed, and the rampage – forever!"

Special Dispatch No. 256 – Saudi Ambassador to London: Bush Has Complexes… 'The Entire World Fears a Future in the Shadow of "Dubya"'

On August 9, 2001, Ghazi Al-Qusaibi published in Al-Hayat a scathing personal attack on then-U.S. President George W. Bush. Following are excerpts from the article:[5]

"When George Bush Jr. came to the White House, after a long period of ambiguity and confusion, it was clear from the outset that his behavior stems from two enormous complexes. His first complex is [an urge to] manage matters completely differently than his predecessor, the popular and beloved Bill Clinton. His second complex is [an urge to] prove to himself, to his family, and to the world, that he makes his own decisions, and that his being the son of a former U.S. president has no effect whatsoever on his political conduct. From the very beginning, it was obvious that little George wanted to come out from under the shadow of big George (who should have chosen a different name for his son)."

"The truth is that his complex was evident even before he entered the White House, when he insisted on introducing himself as George W., or 'Dubya,' as he pronounced it, so that no one would confuse him with his father. His complex became deeper when he needed the help of the old faces of his father's administration. If we take into account the Freudian problems of which no family is free – one example of many is Dubya's past alcoholism and his father's disappointment with him; another is the problem of the widespread belief that his younger brother is smarter and more talented than him – we will understand that his desire to prove that he has come of age is uncontrollable…

"In a few months, this man has succeeded in creating so many enemies for the US that he deserves a prize that should be called: 'The Prize for Non-Stop Turning of Friends into Enemies…

"Dubya's advisors, headed by [National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice] – whose legs the war criminal Sharon lusted after, thus proving that he is just as good at vulgarity as he is at genocide – would do well to offer their president … a brief including the 'worst case scenario. In this regard, let me suggest to those advisors that they remind Dubya of a few facts… With regard to the Middle East, the American president's advisors should remind him of a solid historical fact that many prefer to ignore: every military coup in the Arab nation, without exception, has been directly linked to Palestine. Syria's upheavals were the result of the defeat of 1948, and had no connection to domestic reform. The Egyptian coup of 1952 was carried out by a small group of officers formed only after the war with Israel, and its primary goal was to wash away the shame clinging to the Egyptian military. The Egyptian-Syrian unity, a real revolution in Arab politics, would not have come about had it not been for the Palestine problem. The Iraqi revolution of 1958 was less against the monarchy than against Nuri al-Sa'id, who was considered Israel's ally. The logic of the Arab revolutions has been that all Arab capitals must rebel so that the free revolutionaries could all invade Palestine. The Imam Khomeini aroused the public by means of his continued attacks on Israel, no less than his attacks on the Shah. Even the cursed invasion of Kuwait was not free of attempts at 'Palestinization'... Finally, the American president's advisors should remind him that the credit for leaving the 'Monster of Baghdad' in charge of the regime must go primarily to American policy, which rains billions of dollars on Tel-Aviv while it bombards Baghdad with missiles.

"If any of the American president's advisors is an Arabic speaker, he might summarize the position of the Arab world, from one end to the other, with its moderates and extremists, with a verse from the famous poem that, disregarded, led to the fall of the Ummayad empire: 'I see [beneath] the ashes a spark of flame. And I fear that the blaze will take hold.'"

Special Dispatch No. 389 – Saudi Ambassador to London: 'I Want Peace with Israel'; 'I Long to Die as a Martyr'; 'Stoning and Amputating Hands Are at the Core of Every Muslim's Belief'

Huda Al-Husseini, a correspondent for the Saudi owned London Arabic daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, conducted an extensive interview with Saudi Ambassador to London Ghazi Al-Qusaibi. The following are excerpts from the interview:[6]

Had to Take a Stand on Suicide Bombers

Answering a question about a poem he had written in praise of female suicide bomber Ayat Al-Akhras that sparked a media reaction in Britain, Al-Qusaibi stated:

"I wrote this poem for two reasons that affected me psychologically. First, I saw her talking in the video broadcast on television. It was obvious that she was a woman who wanted only to die as a martyr and defend her homeland. She was young, 17, and I imagined her to be my daughter. I felt that she was a girl whom despair, frustration, and rage had brought to a point where she was willing to kill herself for her homeland.

"Second, sometime after her martyrdom, the American president George Bush said that all Arabs should call the perpetrators of suicide operations – and I, by the way, object to this term because these are martyrdom operations – criminals and murderers. I said to myself: the humiliation in which we live is bad enough, but maybe the day has come when they impose on us not only what to do but also what to say. Will the man influenced by Israel [referring to President Bush] determine who is a Muslim martyr and who is a Muslim criminal? I had no choice but to take a stand on this issue. I could have written an article, but emotion has found expression in my poem. I knew that the poem would spark debate, but sometimes a man must take a stand."

Asked whether he encourages young people to carry out 'martyrdom operations,' Al-Qusaibi replied: "Whether I encourage it or not is irrelevant… My personal position has no connection to events. Yet the position of my government or of other governments is another matter. I think that it is the right of every man to defend his homeland by any means. A man who defends his homeland and dies doing so is a martyr, and in no case must we consider him a suicide [bomber].

"In the Koran… it is written that anyone who dies for the sake of Allah is a martyr. When the Prophet Muhammad was asked about the meaning of 'for the sake of Allah,' he said, 'Anyone who fights so that the words of Allah will be supreme.' Namely, he who kills because he wants to be a hero, or to be brave, will not be a martyr, no matter what he does…"

My Son Makes His Own Decisions…

Al-Qusaibi was asked whether he would encourage his son "to martyr himself," and whether he would permit him to go to Palestine to fight. He answered, "My son is 24 and he makes his own decisions… If he decided to martyr himself, it would be his decision…"

"What hurts is that the Zionist journalists write that a man carries out an operation because he gets 70 black-eyed women in Paradise! Whoever wants 70 girls goes to a Tel Aviv whorehouse, and does not kill himself. Is it conceivable that a heroic martyrdom operation would be defiled in such a manner?…"

Saudi Arabia is Giving Aid to the Families of Palestinian Martyrs

Al-Qusaibi was asked whether Saudi Arabia gave aid to the families of suicide bombers. He replied: "All the Palestinians, all the martyrs, and all their families are needy… How will they be able to live without the help of their Arab brethren? Let's assume that they are murderers; by what law are the families of murderers punished? [Timothy] McVeigh, who murdered 450 people, received money from social security until his last day!… I do not know what Saddam Hussein's intentions are [when doing the same thing], but I approve of the aid going to the families of the martyrs, the families of the wounded, and every needy Palestinian. This is what Saudi Arabia is doing."

Al-Qusaibi was asked whether he feared that in the future, suicide attacks would become a weapon against the Arab regimes. He answered: "I cannot compare the Palestinians' situation with that of any other person… The Palestinians are currently the only people in the world under a colonialist regime. I wrote in an article that I was not demanding human rights for them, but animal rights… Britain is about to pass an animal rights bill that would give animals the right to eat, drink, and express themselves. There are four million Palestinians who have no way of moving or working, and they are slaughtered."

The interviewer reiterated, "You demand freedom of expression as they demand here for animals. But the Palestinians under Israeli occupation are not the only ones denied this. There are many like them in the Arab world."

"There is no room for comparison," replied Al-Qusaibi. "There are varying degrees of [repression] in the Arab world. In the worst cases, a man can leave… The Palestinians cannot do this…"

On the Culture of Death

Al-Qusaibi also commented: "I have not changed my position regarding the Palestinian problem since I was 16… I wrote about the first suicide bomber, [a] Lebanese woman [named] Sanaa Al-Muhaeidly… My position is not new. What is new is the state of horror and tension that caused the Fidaai [martyrdom] attacks in Israel. In the past, the Israelis didn't care if we said 'martyr.' Now they have begun to really fear what they call 'the culture of death' which I call the 'culture of martyrdom.' When the culture of martyrdom spreads among the Palestinians and the Arabs, the myth of Israel will come to an end…"

The Saudi Initiative: Israel's Last Chance

"The initiative of Crown Prince Abdullah was, in effect, a warning to the world: This is the minimal border. Do not demand any more of us, because we cannot [give more]. This is a last-chance message to Israel. This is a message not directed at the Likud or Sharon. Prince Abdullah knows well that nothing positive will come from Sharon, but he saw matters deteriorating to the point where it would be difficult to control them. He thought that it was his obligation to convey the message – an initiative that is not directed at all to Sharon, but to the world.

"Another message was directed to the Israeli people: 'We, 22 [Arab] countries, have now offered you peace before things get out of hand…'"

"You ask me how can it be stopped. Can I stop it by [telling] the martyr not to martyr himself? We have seen in demonstrations in Arab countries that everyone wanted to martyr himself. Only a viable Palestinian state will stop the violence…

"[The borders of this state] are clear: the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem, and the dismantling of the settlements. The Arab initiative clearly explained this. When the final borders of the state are declared, I will be able to find work opportunities for the young people and to enable the 17 year-old girl to wait for a husband. When a man thinks of sacrificing himself, it means he has reached a dead end. Accordingly, the solution for stopping the violence will not come from my condemning the violence or refraining from [giving] aid [to the Palestinians]…"

Yes, I Want Peace With Israel

The interviewer asked Al-Qusaibi "as a private individual" whether he wanted peace with Israel. "Yes," he answered, "I will tell you why, and I said this to the fanatic Zionists. I said it to Lord Levy, Barbara Amiel, and Lord Conrad Black, and I am willing to say it to anyone. I said, 'All my life, I thought there was a need to liberate all of Palestine. But in the last 20 years, I have begun to think that a new generation has arisen in Israel which knows no other place. I can tell Sharon, for example, to return to Russia. But the new Israeli generation knows no other land, and does not know that the land on which it sits is usurped. What will become of this generation?… Therefore, if a viable Palestinian state will arise alongside the State of Israel… I will have no problem coexisting with Israel…'"[7]

"I Long to Die as a Martyr"

The interviewer said, "Uri Avneri wrote that you are a dangerous man. He called you the 'ambassador of death.'" Al-Qusaibi said, "That is incitement to murder… It is true that I have many faults, but fear of death is not one of them… I do not fear death – on the contrary, I long to die as a martyr, although I am at an age that does not allow me to carry out a martyrdom operation. My weight does not permit this. But I still hope to die as a martyr…"

A Cultural Gap Between Islam and the West

Al-Qussabi referred to the experience he had accumulated during his many years in London: "There is a cultural gap. We make fools out of ourselves when we say there are no differences between Islam and the West. The fundamental difference is that in Islam many of the rulings – those included in the right texts – don't change, and people cannot change them. Yet the rulings in Western culture are the complete opposite. For Muslims, a ruling that has changed is not fit for human beings. Thus, this is not a question of public relations."

Flogging, Stoning, and Amputations Are in Muslim Eyes "The Core of the Islamic Faith"

"On the other hand… democracy in Britain can do what it wants. In law school, we learned that the English Parliament can do anything except make a male into a female and a female into a male. Now it can do that too. In contrast, according to the Islamic view, no one – the nation cannot, 1,200,000,000 Muslims cannot –make the forbidden permissible and cannot make the permissible forbidden. [In Islam] punishments have been set, and no matter what we say, the West will see them as barbaric and primitive. According to the Western view, flogging is illogical. Execution is unacceptable, and the same goes for amputating hands and stoning. These are things that in Muslim eyes are at the core of the Islamic faith."

"For this reason, there is a genuine cultural gap that cannot be bridged by hiring the services of a PR company – but only by West and East respecting each others' culture. If we say that Western culture is preposterous, and that it is a wicked and inferior culture, and if they say, your culture is primitive - we will get no results. I maintain that the mature position is to accept the Westerners with their culture, and for them to accept us with ours…"

Endnotes:

[1] Muhammad's ascension, according to the Koran.

[2] Palestinian suicide bomber Ayat Al-Akhras, who carried out a 2002 attack in Jerusalem in which three Israelis were killed.

[3] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), August 16, 2010

[4] Al-Hayat (London), June 9, 2001.

[5] Al-Hayat (London), August 9, 2001.

[6] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), June 5, 2002.

[7] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 251, The Saudi Ambassador in London - 'We Must Not Rule Out the Option of War with Israel,' http://www.memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=archives&Area=sd&ID=SP25101, August 7, 2010

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