$1.29 billion

This just makes me sick – Business Insider reports on the way US Secretary of State John Kerry has been sucking up to Saudi Arabia.

Despite a flurry of international criticism regarding Saudi Arabia’s mass execution, the US government has been exceptionally muted in its response. After the executions, the State Department reported that it had “expressed [its] concerns” about the legal process in Saudi Arabia and raised those concerns at “high levels of the Saudi government”.

Emerging from meetings with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, Secretary Kerry declared the discussion to be “one of the most constructive conversations that we have had in a time.” Speaking to embassy staff in Riyadh, he stated, “We have as solid a relationship, as clear an alliance, and [as strong] a strong friendship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as we have ever had.”

That’s disgusting. Saudi Arabia is a human rights nightmare. Saudi Arabia is the “official” version of IS, or rather, IS is the freelance version of Saudi Arabia. Because Saudi Arabia is a state and has the apparatus of a state, it can do far more harm than IS can, and it does. Saudi Arabia sentences people to torture and death for religious dissent, for sex, for liberalism, for opinion, for innocuous Facebook posts. Saudi Arabia imports millions of women as domestic servants and looks the other way as they are treated like garbage. Saudi Arabia fails to make the hajj safe for the millions of pilgrims it attracts, and then lies about the death count. Saudi Arabia treats half its population like criminals.

Recently, citizens of Yemen have borne the brunt of the human cost of Saudi Arabia’s regional adventurism. Reports by numerous independent human rights organizations have repeatedly implicated coalition air strikes in civilian deaths and violations of international humanitarian law. Just this January, a Saudi air strike killed a freelance journalist who had been conducting interviews for Voice of America.

Despite documentation of continuing coalition human rights abuses, the United States plans to move forward with its $1.29 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, the terrorist ideology that Saudi Arabia claims to be fighting abroad increasingly links back to Saudi Arabia itself.

It’s just horrendous. We might as well be selling weapons to North Korea, or Boko Haram. It makes just as much sense.

Last autumn, Saudi Arabia’s terrorism tribunal sentenced Abdulkareem al-Khoder, a founding member of the Saudi Arabian Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) to 10 years in prison and a 10-year travel ban, making him the tenth founding member of ACPRA to be imprisoned.

Youth protesters Ali al-Nimr, Abdullah al-Zaher, and Dawood Hussein al-Marhoon sit on death row for their activism after the government convicted them of crimes they reportedly committed as minors.

On 21 December 2015, a Saudi court sentenced writer Zuhair Kutbi to four years in prison, a five-year ban on overseas travel, a fine of $26,600, and a 15-year writing ban for his criticism of the government. Still worse, the government sentenced Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh to death in November 2015 for apostasy.

The list of Saudi human rights abuses is long and growing longer. The government has repeatedly, in both domestic and international venues, perpetrated human rights violations and sacrificed regional security and stability to further its own interests. Such abuses are in flagrant violation of Saudi Arabia’s international commitments.

But the Obama administration apparently doesn’t care.

2 Responses to “$1.29 billion”