Saudi crackdown on dissent 'linked to failed Qatar boycott'
A dissident Saudi academic has said a recent wave of arrests has been an attempt by authorities to crackdown on opponents of the king-in-waiting's aggressive foreign policy towards Qatar.
Madawi al-Rasheed told The New Arab in an interview this week that the recent detention of around two dozen people, including influential clerics, are linked to the "failure" of a Saudi-led boycott of Doha.
"The detainees' identities and their ideological and political leanings indicate that the authorities want to send a message to Qatar after they have failed to make Doha kneel," Rasheed, a visiting professor at the Middle East Centre, London School of Economics, said.
"Saudi Arabia is attempting to go after Qatar with the arrests because it believes that Saudi Islamists are loyal to Doha,"
"The message to Saudis is that your fates will be the same as these imprisoned clerics if you do not support the regime's campaign against any country."
Leading cleric Salman al-Awdah was arrested this month after he welcomed the first contact between Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman and Qatar's emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani after a three-month boycott.
Rasheed explained that bin Salman, who is viewed as the country's de facto ruler, is attempting to stamp out traces of internal dissent towards his failed "media assault" against Qatar and military intervention in neighbouring Yemen.
"Bin Salman stands alone as he prepares himself to be the future king. He has not guaranteed the backing of all the princes. The problem is that he cannot predict what their reactions will be if he becomes king should his father abdicate or die," the academic said.
"He is in state of confusion and the 20 people who have been arrested have been the victims of this disaster,"
Rasheed, a leading historian of the conservative kingdom, believes that Riyadh wants to be the leader of the Islamic world and sees Doha as a competitor with its independent media and foreign policy.
"The battle with Qatar is not a just battle between Islamists or a battle between Bin Salman and Qatar's Sheikh Tamim, it is a bigger fight. Saudi Arabia does not want an independent state in the Gulf," she added.