Obama and West Remain Silent on Saudi Arabia’s Dismal Human Rights Record

Posted Feb. 4, 2015

MP3 Interview with Ali Al-Ahmed, director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs, conducted by Scott Harris


Saudi Arabia has been the focus of international news reports in recent weeks with the death of Saudi King Abdullah and the appointment of one of the late king's younger brothers, Crown Prince Salman, as his successor. The oil-rich kingdom has also come under scrutiny for its recent sentencing of a 31-year-old blogger, Raif Badawi, to a 10-year prison sentence and 1,000 lashes over a period of 20 weeks for the alleged crime of insulting Islam. Badawi was arrested for criticizing his nation’s clerics on his Free Saudi Liberals blog.

In the first five days after being named king, Salman carried out five executions by beheading. Saudi Arabia has long come under criticism by human rights groups for its harsh application of Sharia law and denial of almost all basic rights to women, but rights advocates assert that a crackdown on dissent has intensified since activists began pushing for democratic reforms following the 2011 Arab Spring wave of protests. The House of Saud has also been accused of having provided indirect support to both al Qaeda and ISIS.

The West’s deliberate silence on Saudi human rights violations was brought into focus when President Obama cut short his state visit to India to attend King Abdullah’s funeral. While in India, Obama had challenged that nation’s leaders to do more to protect religious minorities and ensure equal treatment for women. However, before and after his trip to Saudi Arabia, the President had only praise for the late Saudi leader and his kingdom. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Ali Al-Ahmed, director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs, who discusses the U.S. and Europe's silence on the oil-rich Kingdom’s dismal human rights record.

For more information the Institute for Gulf Affairs, visit gulfinstitute.org.

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