Personal and academic blog. Explores the borderlands between rhetoric, politics and intelligence.


Saudis might make Denmark terror target

And talking about preparing the rhetorical scene for things to come: Last wednesday the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia Sheikh Abdulaziz Al Sheikh called for the Danish Government to punish paper. This was followed by Saudi Arabia withdrawing its ambassador from Denmark for "consultation" as well as a sort of boycott of Danish products in Saudi Arabia.

However much a storm in a tea cup this might be, it has some grim implications.

Al Qaeda: Bin Laden was no friend of Al Sheikh's predecessor and certainly not of the Saudi government. This might be a chance to mark how the organisation puts words into action and do some violence. The rhetorical device at work here is presence - the sheer fact that Denmark has become the issue in the Middle East might elevate it from a low-status target to a self-explainatory one. And when you blow up a bomb it is very important that people will not go "Wha? Why did they do that? Who did it anyways? And what could they possibly want from blowing up the Togolese stock-exchange?" - rather, with a charged situation given presence by other actors all you need is blow stuff up, then the explanations will come by themselves: "Uuh, that's what happens when you..."

Other jihadists: However, as I have discussed before it will probably not be Al Qaeda proper that would be able to do such things. Other groups, lower in the pyramid would probably get into action. And with less control and finesse. What is against this hypothesis is that it takes a long time to prepare an attack, so everything might have blown over in a month or two when they are ready.

Local groups: this might be the most likely actor. With a relatively little effort - any kind of political violence - you are sure to create headlines. Especially if you are media savvy and knows how to frame it. A bit of car-burning might do the trick.

Hopefully all the dents that are beaten here will be some tonnes of cheese that will go sour in warehouses. But the Saudi (over)reaction is fertilising the ground for worse.


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