Cultural, Economic, Human Rights, International, Life as it is, Political, Religious

Mind-boggling Saudi mendacity

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia portrays itself as the holiest place in the whole of Muslim world of 54 sovereign states and claims to be the custodian of two most sacred mosques in Islam. But the reality cannot be furthest from such exulted claims. The country is bereft with corruption, misogyny, brutality, inhumanity, deception and downright criminality. No country in the whole world can match or even come close to Saudi Arabia’s egregious claim of virtuosity and the reality of unfettered criminality.

Let us scrutinise Saudi Arabia’s activities in modern times and the havoc these activities are creating worldwide. To do so, we have to start from the roots of Saudi Arabia, its barbaric activities, its total absence of humanity and its criminal use of religion for political purposes. Overall, this country wants to gain prominence and supremacy at the back of religion and to do so, nothing is off the table.  

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia came into being in 1932 when Abdulaziz ibn Saud managed to beat his rival, Ikhwan in the battle of Sabilla in 1930 with the covert support of Britain and named the country after his family name, Saud. In other words, the country became the possession of the Saud dynasty. The country and the people were extremely impoverished at that time. But as luck would have it, in 1938 vast reserve of oil was discovered in areas close to the Persian Gulf by a British oil company. As petrodollars started pouring in, the country prospered, despite blatant corruption. The oil revenue in 2019 was $202 billion, despite oil price being less than half of what it was a year ago.

Saudi Arabia’s objectives with its vast oil wealth rests on two main planks: (i) legitimising and securing the rule of ibn Saud over the country and (ii) gaining undisputed supremacy in the Islamic world by eliminating any vestiges of dissent to their Sunni sect from other religious sects in Islam. Needless to say that Islam, being the political religion, readily lends itself to use overtly and covertly to achieve the above mentioned objectives of the Saudi Sunni dynasty.

When Abdulaziz ibn Saud conquered Riyadh in 1902 by sheer brutality, he realised that the fractious regions of desert lands of Arabia could only be brought together under his control if the overarching umbrella of religion was established – an uncanny resemblance of what Prophet Mohammed felt some 1400 years earlier. He revived an alliance drawn between Mohammad ibn Saud (the founder of 1st Saud dynasty) and the preacher Abd-al Wahhab in 1744 whereby ibn Saud and his heirs pledged to protect the Wahhabi dynasty from the prevailing animosity towards it in exchange of retaining the proprietary right over this Wahhabi ideology by the Saudis. This Wahhabi ideology mirrored the original teachings of Islam as encoded in Salafism, but with more vitriol and viciousness.  It suited Abdulaziz ibn-Saud and his band of warrior Islamicists very well to use Wahhabism/Salafism as a tool to impose autocracy in the name of Islam. Thus, Islam became truly a political-military religion.

What ISIL/IS did in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere reflect in totality the Wahhabi ideology which Saudi Arabia propagated and promoted. Few beheadings by IS in camera of ‘infidels’ might have shocked the world; but in Saudi Arabia beheadings of human beings on offences like adultery, apostasy, heresy, insult to prophet Muhammad etc. are almost every day affair. These are all done in Saudi Arabia legitimately under the Sharia Law. That the brutality of Sharia Law conflicts with the Human Rights Provisions to which Saudi Arabia had signed up to does not bother them an iota. Law is what suits the interests of the ruling class in Saudi Arabia; not something that conflicts with their interests.

It may be mentioned that the political Islam, reflecting the Bedouin culture of 7th century in the deserts of Arabia, lends very good helping hand to those bigoted men. As per religion, women are not to be treated equal to men. In fact, in matters of inheritance, a daughter is exactly half of a son. A woman cannot divorce her husband at all in Islam, but a man can divorce his wife by pronouncing ‘divorce’ words three times. If a woman is raped, it is always the fault of the woman – on the grounds that she might have aroused sexuality in the man and hence she is the one to be punished. Many hundreds of migrant women workers in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Countries are punished every year by long term imprisonment, severe lashing or even beheading when their masters happen to rape them. For fear of their lives, these women workers remain silent. But if they become pregnant, they have to face brutal punishment as prescribed by the Wahhabi ideology.

Saudi Arabia’s other objective is the global domination of Sunni Wahhabism. As the King of Saudi Arabia is the custodian of two holiest mosques in Islam, Sunni domination is effectively his domination. The war in Yemen that is going on from 2014 is due to Saudi Arabia’s attack on Houthi rebels who are mainly Shias. Saudi Arabia had been bombing various parts of the country to kill Houthi rebels and any fatality of innocent civilians were regarded as collateral damage. More than 233,000 civilians have died until the end of 2020 due to the Saudi-led coalition attacks on Yemen, according to UN Humanitarian Office. Millions of children are now facing serious malnutrition and death due to diseases.

Saudi Arabia and its cohorts in the Gulf Cooperation Council (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia) had been funding and fuelling the discontent among the Syrian people against the Alawite regime of Bashar al-Assad. Alawite belongs to the Shiite sect of Islam, which Saudi Arabia regards as the enemy of Sunni. Other Shiite denominations such as Ismaili, Zaidi, Baha’is and Ahmadiyya are Wahhabis/Salafist enemies. Sufi had been declared non-Muslim. ISIL/IS had been killing these apostates under their occupation, unless they accept Sunni ideology straightaway.

Saudi Arabia is the root of most of the evils, if not all, of the world today. Most of the attackers of the World Trade Centre in New York in 2001 were Saudi fundamentalists. The untold misery of millions of people in Syria, Iraq and other places were due to Saudi inspired rebellion against established regimes. Despite that, the country did not feel any compassion to offer refuge to the dispossessed war victims, although the country has hundreds of billions of dollars and vast unused tracts of land. Saudi and other Wahhabi regimes in the Middle East gave the Fatwah that women (and even girls over 10 or 11) would be required to wear face veil (hijab) and all body veil (burqa) as part of the religious requirement. And now hundreds of millions of women round the world wear these attires, although there is nowhere in the religious books that they are mandatory.

In 2018, a Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi who worked for the Washington Post had been killed in Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. He advocated liberalisation of strict Wahhabi doctrine in Saudi Arabia and in the process became an enemy of crown prince Mohammad bin Salman. When Khashoggi went to Saudi consulate in Istanbul to collect his marriage certificate on 2nd October 2018, the death squad was waiting for him. He was murdered, his body was chopped up into pieces and then dumped into the well of the Consul General’s home just across the road. They also enacted an elaborate ploy as one look-alike Khashoggi leaving the consulate through the back door. When Khashoggi did not come out of the consulate hours later, his fiancée (a Turkish national) started enquiring, the Saudi Consulate said at first that they knew nothing about Khashoggi’s whereabout and when she contacted high level Turkish officials, then they said he had left through the back door and produced the video clip to support it. That was a complete fake as reporters found that the imposter was wearing different shoes and different tie. The Turkish government investigated the case and found that Khashoggi had been brutally murdered inside the consulate. Two weeks later, the Saudi government said that he was killed in a fight. Yesterday, the American Intelligence report produced in 2018, which was stopped by Donald Trump’s orders, had been made public and that showed that he was murdered inside the consulate by the direct orders of crown prince Mohammad bin Salman. For over two years, the Saudi government had been lying and deceiving the world and Donald Trump was complicit with it.      

There is a humourous saying which asks, when do you know that an Arab is lying? The answer came, when he opens his mouth.

  • Dr A Rahman is an author and a columnist
Cultural, International, Life as it is, Political

US quits UN Human Rights Council

Nikki Haley says council is ‘protector of human rights abusers’ that targets Israel in particular and ignores atrocities elsewhere.

 

The US is withdrawing from the United Nations human rights council, the Trump administration announced on Tuesday, calling it a “cesspool of political bias” that targets Israel in particular while ignoring atrocities in other countries.

The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said she had travelled to the council’s headquarters in Geneva a year ago to call for reforms, to no avail. “Regrettably it is now clear that our call for reform was not heeded,” Haley told reporters at the state department. “Human rights abusers continue to serve on, and be elected to, the council.”
She added: “The world’s most inhumane regimes continue to escape scrutiny and the council continues politicising and scapegoating of countries with positive human rights records in an attempt to distract from the abusers in their ranks.” “For too long the human rights council has been a protector of human rights abusers and a cesspool of political bias.”

The UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres, expressed regret about the US withdrawal. The organisation’s top human rights official, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said in a tweet: “Given the state of human rights in today’s world, the US should be stepping up, not stepping back.”

Haley argued the US had spent a year in pursuit of reforms while the council’s flaws deepened. She pointed to the election of the Democratic Republic of Congo to council membership in the past year, despite the US reform campaign, as proof that the body could not be fixed. She also noted the council had failed to hold a single session on Venezuela, which is a council member, or Iran, despite its ruthless crushing of opposition demonstrations. “When a so-called human rights council cannot bring itself to address the massive abuses in Venezuela and Iran, and it welcomes the Democratic Republic of Congo as a new member, the council ceases to be worthy of its name,” the ambassador said. Haley also pointed to the continued existence of “agenda item 7”, a permanent fixture on the schedule, exclusively devoted to the discussion of rights violations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The UK foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, said the US decision to leave was “regrettable”.
Johnson, who had called on Monday for agenda item 7 to be reformed, said in a statement: “The United States’ decision to withdraw from the human rights council is regrettable. “We’ve made no secret of the fact that the UK wants to see reform of the human rights council, but we are committed to working to strengthen the council from within,” the foreign secretary added.

However, Haley criticised countries that expressed concern about the council but remained members, suggesting those countries lacked courage. “Almost every country we met with agrees with us, in principle and behind closed doors, that the human rights council needs major dramatic, systemic changes. Yet no other country has had the courage to join our fight,” she said.

The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, appearing alongside Haley, said: “Too many commitments have gone unfulfilled. President Trump wants to move the ball forward. From day one he has called out institutions or countries who say one thing and do another, and that’s precisely the problem at the human rights council.”

The Trump administration had been signalling its intention to leave the council for some months, but the announcement came while the US itself is under intense criticism for its own human rights, because of the administration’s policy of forcibly separating young children from their parents when apprehended on the Mexican border.
“Trump’s withdrawal is especially disturbing given his persistent praise for despots and dictators with abysmal human rights records, not to mention his administration’s cruel mistreatment of immigrant families seeking asylum,” the Democratic National Committee said in a statement.

Advocacy groups accused the US of withdrawing from its global obligations to protect human rights.
“The Trump administration’s withdrawal is a sad reflection of its one-dimensional human rights policy: defending Israeli abuses from criticism takes precedence above all else,” Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, said.
“The UN human rights council has played an important role in such countries as North Korea, Syria, Myanmar and South Sudan, but all Trump seems to care about is defending Israel. Like last time when the US government stepped away from the Council for similar reasons, other governments will have to redouble their efforts to ensure the Council addresses the world’s most serious human rights problems.”

(The Guardian report, dated 19 June 2018)