Sunday, October 9, 2016

Saudi Arabia Warned to End Torture & Killings of Children

The more that you hear about Saudi Arabia, the less that you want to hear.

In the latest news, the United Nations just reprimanded Saudi Arabia's practice of torturing children.

Specifically, the Saudis were urged to “repeal all provisions contained in legislation which authorize the stoning, amputation and flogging of children.” Also, Saudi Arabia needed to “unambiguously prohibit the use of solitary confinement, life sentences on children and child attendance of public execution”.

In particular, girls face extreme discrimination and a lack of opportunity, as well as sexual exploitation. According to the report, Saudi Arabia “still does not recognize girls as full subjects of rights and continues to severely discriminate (against) them in law and practice and to impose on them a system of male guardianship”. 

The Committee on the Rights of the Child also blasted Saudi Arabia's airstrikes on neighboring Yemen. 

However, Wahhabism reigns supreme in Saudi Arabia, which recognizes strict interpretations of sharia and Islamic laws. The chairman of the Saudi Human Rights Commission, Bandar Bin Mohammed Al-Aiban, answered criticism of his country by suggesting that these Islamic laws were more important than all other laws and treaties, including those of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Still, the Kingdom does have the political desire to protect the rights of children, he said.

My question is why we are such close allies with this ridiculous regime? This country, Saudi Arabia, has funded some of the most notorious terrorists in recent history, and their human rights abuses are almost off the charts. Women are not seen as equals with men and, in fact, are relegated to, at best, the status of second class citizens. Non-Muslims are not welcome and, moreover, there are segregated highways within the country for Muslims and non-Muslims. And Wahhabism, the most extreme and damaging form of Islam, the one responsible for terrorism, came from Saudi Arabia and reigns supreme there, as does Sharia law. In short, this country represents the very worst things that any regime could represent, and it has been allowed to get away with these abuses time and time again. It is hardly a mystery to figure out why.

Had the United States, and the rest of the West, gone ahead and developed energy independence, as President Jimmy Carter urged us to do decades ago now, we would have been able to end our reliance on Saudi Arabia, and these dehumanizing and criminal practices would surely have been targeted for economic sanctions, boycotts, and divestment, much like South Africa faced during the apartheid years. Surely, however arrogant the men in charge may by, they would quickly find it in their hearts to reform if the money stopped coming in.

However, since our own values favor oil over human rights, that particular message is continually ignored, and Saudi Arabia continues not just to ignore these criticisms but, as their official response suggests, to flaunt the fact that they can well afford to ignore any criticisms, as well. 

UN Tells Saudi Arabia To Stop Stoning And Executing Kids by The Associated Press, 10/07/2016:


  1. I couldn't agree more regarding the assertion that we should have gotten serious about weaning ourselves off of our dependence on fossil fuels decades ago. And as much as I hate war, attacking Saudi Arabia in the wake of 9/11 would have at least made some semblance of sense to me for the reasons that you've cited here, as opposed to attacking Iraq, which has only benefited the Bush administration and its cronies (defense contractors, Haliburton et al.). I seem to recall you once observed that every foreign military intervention on this country's part that is touted as selfless and altruistic is in actuality anything but. There's an obvious correlation between that and the fact that we've collectively turned a blind eye to Saudi Arabia's appalling human rights record for longer than you and I have been around.

  2. The United States should have listened to the man they elected President in 1976. He was the only honest broker that this country had as a leader during my lifetime, and with the two main nominees this year, that trend is sure to continue well into the future, as well. Not sure if a war on Saudi Arabia would be the answer at this point, although getting serious about establishing energy independence would allow the possibility of a campaign of boycott, sanctions, and divestment to work.

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  4. Well, don't get me wrong, I'm certainly not a gung ho advocate of a military intervention in Saudi Arabia (or anywhere else, for that matter). If anything I generally lean towards pacifism. And there's clearly something to be said for economic sanctions, which I would be all for. Having said that, military interventions and economic sanctions alike pose a moral quandary. The former inherently comes with the immeasurable horror of war: mounting casualties – particularly among innocent civilians who tend to get caught in the crossfire – and the very real risk of a drawn-out clusterfuck that ultimately fans the flames of instability and fanaticism in an already volatile region. Not to mention the people who wind up maimed for life and/or grappling with post-traumatic stress disorder. The flip side of that equation is that economic sanctions often take years or even decades to yield the desired results, if that is ever even achieved. They essentially consist of telling the victims of oppression and violence in these regimes "Hang in there. We're putting economic and diplomatic pressure on your tormentors, and history has shown that this can, in some instances, help in the long run." Which is cold comfort at best to the people – women and girls in particular – whose lives are rendered a living hell on a daily basis and whose safety and dignity is under constant threat. I suppose it ultimately comes down to the perceived level of urgency: do the crimes being committed warrant drastic, immediate action which could easily backfire, or a far slower, more measured approach, which comes with its own set of nightmarish drawbacks. There's no easy answer to that. One thing I am certain of, however, is that hollow gestures such as those routinely taken by the UN accomplish nothing. Reprimands are only effective when there's some modicum of basic human decency to appeal to, which is clearly a non starter where the Saudi regime is concerned.