The Saudi Future, The West And The War On Terrorism

Aug 19th, 2015 | By | Category: Featured

Saudi Arabia: The Elephant In The Room (From CDHR)

In January, 2015 President Barack Obama traveled to Saudi Arabia to pay homage to the new King.

In January, 2015 President Barack Obama traveled to Saudi Arabia to pay homage to the new King. (White House photo)

CDHR’s Commentary: Despite its status as the epicenter of extremism, religious intolerance, corruption, an exporter of lethal dogma, violator of its citizens’ basic human rights and supporter of extremists and terrorists worldwide, the Saudi regime is not only spared Western governments’ admonitions, but enjoys their categorical support and exaltations as an ally in  “The War on Terrorism” and a bedrock of regional stability.

No group would more vehemently disagree with the West’s public assessment of the Saudi regime’s good deeds than the Saudi people. If most Saudis (including some royals, old and young) are allowed to express their opinions without incurring forbidding punishments or losing their lucrative financial allotments, they would be the first to characterize the Western regimes, businesses, “experts” and mainstream media outlets’ reporters and commentators as hypocrites, to say the least.

Despite the exchange of frequent visits, appearances in a multitude of press conferences, business fora and elaborate state social events, Westerners (with the exception of former President George W. Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice , 70  members of US Congress and Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstroem) have been cowed into avoiding any public mention of human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, even when asked their opinion of or reactions to the Saudi government’s draconian domestic policies. Not only do Western officials genuflect to Saudi wishes, but businesspeople, reporters and educators disregard Saudi abuses of human rights, such as arbitrary arrests, incarcerations without charges and harsh punishment imposed on human rights and social justice advocates.

Many Saudis and others point to Western officials’ flagrant and discriminatory double standards regarding violations of human rights by the Saudi government. These groups argue that while Western officials never publicly mention the plight of prisoners of conscience, marginalization of women, minorities’ rights, religious freedom or freedom of expression in Saudi Arabia, the same officials openly and publicly chastise other governments for less egregious violations than those committed by the Saudi regime. A recent example of Western hypocrisy is evident in President Obama’s speeches and press conferences during his visit to Kenya and Ethiopia in July 2015.

While in Kenya, the President unabashedly condemned social injustices, including violations of human rights, corruption, marginalization of women, child marriage, gay rights, fraudulent elections, lack of economic opportunities for youth, lack of religious freedom and lengthy terms in office by some corrupt politicians, among other things. President Obama reiterated his critical message in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, when he met with 54 heads of states of the African Union (AU) on July 26, 2015. He admonished the heads of states of the AU for their failures to utilize their natural and human resources to advance their societies. President Obama attributed Africa’s political and economic stagnation to the marginalization of women. He forcefully stressed that ‘The single best indicator of whether a nation will succeed is how it treats its women. When women have health care and women have education, families are stronger, communities are more prosperous, children do better in school, nations are more prosperous. If you want your country to grow and succeed, you have to empower your women. Let’s lift up the next generation of women leaders who can help fight injustice and forge peace and start new businesses and create jobs — We’ll all be better off when women have equal futures.’

Listening to President Obama rebuking the heads of African states for social injustices and bad governance while the US embraces the absolute Saudi regime not only fuels consternation among Saudis aspiring to freedom and social justice, but weakens their struggles for peaceful reforms. Continuing their current unconditional support for the Saudi monarchy is perilous at a time when Western governments, businesses and media should be realizing that the Saudi people are becoming more aware of their usurped rights and, like their counterparts in the Arab World, will rise against oppression, injustices, unemployment and inadequate public services.

Saudi citizens, of all orientations, are among the most active consumers and utilizers of social media in the world. More than at any time in their history, they watch and read uncontrollableand unfiltered information ranging from free speech, religious freedom, human rights, different lifestyles, elections, women’s rights, freedom of choice, checks and balances, corruption, accountability, and transparency to pornography. They are not only discovering that they are among the most disenfranchised people in the world, but they are realizing that they have become global pariahs due to their government’s and country’s  roles in fueling extremism, terrorism and violations of basic human rights. For the first time in their history, more Saudis (of all races, genders, beliefs, regions and ages) are attributing the multitude of their social illnesses to the Saudi regime’s policies and practices domestically and globally.

Despite their knowledge that the West is a major contributor to the causes of their domestic subjugation, Saudis, including Western-bashers, admire the West, especially Americanfreedom, lifestyle and technological advancements. Given this sentiment, many Saudis are attuned to Western policies toward their country, especially the West’s unconditional support for and defense of the absolute Saudi ruling family. Consequently, the Saudi people are dismayed by the titanic hypocrisy of the West. Large segments of informed Saudis argue that unconditional Western support for their repressive oligarchy is not only based on economic and strategic benefits, but on historical Western contempt for their culture, race and beliefs.

While the West’s, especially the US’s, interest in Saudi Arabia was originally predicated on oil exclusively, the relationship between the autocratic Saudi ruling family and Western democracies has evolved to include strategic, political and global financial concerns. While the Saudi people benefited from oil revenues (particularly in the areas of infrastructure and employment), their rights contracted as their rulers invested and continue to invest massive amounts of their country’s wealth in building one of the most ubiquitous and repressive security apparatuses in the world which the system uses primarily to suppress the population. When Saudis are engaged in discussions about their government’s draconian domestic policies, they are quick to point fingers at Western support for the Saudi regime, specifically the US. The Saudis are not alone in this finger-pointing. Additionally, some Saudis fault the West’s close ties and collaboration with the Saudi royals for the rise of religious extremism through which Al-Qaeda and other terrorists groups have been able to recruit young Muslims and attract mercenaries from around the world, including the West.

More articles on the evils of Saudi Arabia

Given this historical assessment of the Western role in Saudi affairs and considering the current irreversible movement toward a new geographical and political order in the Arab World, Western powers, especially the US, have two risky choices to consider regarding the future of Saudi Arabia. They can continue to support and prolong the reign of a tyrannical regime in Saudi Arabia and risk a potential takeover by ISIS-like native zealots, or they can sternly encourage the new generation of the ruling Saudi princes to share real power with all of their increasingly restless citizens. The latter is less risky, because of two futurist aspiring segments of Saudi society, the educated and well-informed youth and women, including some outspoken members of the ruling family. These groups will work with the monarchy to reform and defend the country if they feel the future is theirs, not exclusively that of the Saudi princes and their lethal and backward-looking religious clerics.

Re-posted from our friends at Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia

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