Saudi Arabia is a Monarchy, frankly speaking the monarchy should/would have collapsed long time back if not the for the systematic information control and low ball offers made by the royal family to the citizens. The Saudi Regime survives on creating a useless welfare state, fueling religious passion and creating things like the religious police, and then of course providing some good facilities at the Islamic holy sites.
What they provide to the their citizens is actually nothing in front of what they steal. The current king abdullah's father had some tens of wives, from which he had tens of kids. The family's strength is well placed at some 15,000 members currently. They are almost growing at a near exponential rate. The problem is each member of the family sort of demands a share of the pie, and its quite well known that much of wealth of the nation is shared among the members of the Saud Family. With so many thousands of them being present, to prevent a break down and rebellion among family members, most government high posts, money making job positions, contracts and anything of financial significance always goes to the saud family members.
The family also has very close ties to a religious family called Al-Sheik. And they often marry among each other to preserve their trust and dependency on each other. Apart from that it is believed, the saud family members also marry among other clans and tribes to keep them in picture too.
The common masses, are well made to believe they are living under a generous king whose duties extend beyond that of state matters and also include doing the holy work of god.
Man publicly beheaded in a Saudi Arabian car park for being a 'sorcerer' : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2055636/Sudanese-man...
Saudi Arabian man beheaded and crucified... his severed head was then sewn back on to his body, which was later hung from a pole in a public place: http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/saudi-arabian-man...
A British male nurse was arrested and savagely battered in Saudi Arabia for being gay — then warned he faced death by beheading: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/3503178/Execution-...
Don't forget unquestioned support from western governments.
The support has not always been "unquestioned." Trade and normal diplomatic relations with the Saudi monarchy has never implied agreement with its position on Jewish settlement in Israel, for example. The 1975 cover article in Harper's magazine "Seizing Arab Oil" by "Miles Ignotus" (Latin for "unknown soldier," a pen name for a State Deparatment official who later was revealed to be Henry Kissinger) was part of a public warning to Saudi Arabia that it couldn't do just whatever it pleased and still expect the normal give-and-take of friendly diplomatic relations.
Saudi Arabia hasn't been invaded, while Iraq has,
mostly because the national regime there balances its interests and desires with the interests and desires of other national governments that have the power to seize its source of national power: low-cost petroleum production. The domestic policies of Saudi Arabia look horrifically backward to me, but they are changing,
and pushing for more liberalization more of the time is something that Western countries increasingly see as an expedient thing to do with other countries (and themselves!) as the world grows smaller and more interconnected.
In what way?
Exactly. If you think christianity is any better, I've got news for you:
Also notice how the parent never mentioned "Islam". Please don't start a fight that doesn't belong here.
It should not be necessary for any group to distance itself from extremists if it's fairly self-evident that the extremists are not considered part of the mainstream. The best is to let lunatics be. If you get into a mudfight with a pig, only the pig has fun, right?
If people considered a fringe guy to be mainstream, then that's a different situation. Then I'd step up and clarify. But I don't see that happening.
We actually have a brain.
In other words, it props up an illegitimate dictatorial family, and in turn they keep the oil flowing at a fairly stable and cheap price.
And now you wonder why young Sauds who are oppressed by this situation hate the United States? The people's oil is taken out of the ground by an illegitimate government propped up by the people who buy the oil at what they perceive to be below the fair price.
Make no mistake, the source of the problem is the United States.
Yes, you're quite right. There was absolutely no oppression of women in the region before the United States came on the scene, or before oil was discovered there.
(sarcasm, in case it's not clear)
I thought that was a widely known fact... that was the time when the US backed the Taliban/Bin Laden, they actually made Rambo III about it.
So, actually, yes, I think there would most certainly be less oppression of woman if the US had backed out from middle east in the 70s. I think almost every serious historian/sociologist or layperson who knows about politics in that region would agree with me, I've actually spoke to many who do, even sociologists that study Islam and Middle East with CIA grants. What they definitely don't agree with me is basically how much what they call "political stability" in that region is worth.
TL, DR; Yes, I think if the US had backed out in the past there would be less oppression of woman. I think "the US" also thinks it, but they just don't care and want a stable regime so that oil prices don't fluctuate chaotically due to heavy speculation.
EDIT: Got four e-mails about this... If someone wants references, I was just compiling some but realized that Chapter 2 of Perilous Power by Chomsky/Achcar is most likely the best place to start. So sorry, no Wikipedia or newspaper article that accurately portrays what I'm trying to explain as an undisputed fact... get used to reading and debating a lot if you want to get into Middle East politics.
Edit -- to clarify further, the OP was referring to the split in the Islamic world in the 60s-70s between traditional Saudi leadership (favoring strong religious fundamentalism) and a new, mostly secular movement termed Pan-Arabism or Arab Nationalism. Since the Pan-Arabists were usually more favorable to Soviet influence, we naturally supported the Saudis and actually fostered several initiatives to increase religious fervor & fundamentalism.
If it wasn't for the damn Cold War, probably today Afghanistan would probably be more developed than Iran... :(
By comparison, Alan Turing was persecuted for his sexual orientation by the UK in the 1950s, almost 100 years after the Ottoman Empire had seen the light. Heck, when I went to high school in Texas (1996-2000), gay sex was still a criminal offense. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down that law in 2003 (admist much bloviating by Antonin Scalia about how we were all being overrun by the "homosexual agenda"), and the Texas Republican Party removed the plank in its platform demanding that homosexuality be recriminalized... only this year, in 2012.
 edit: Actually, upon some further research, it seems this claim is incorrect. The first modern country to decriminalize homosexuality, as far as I can find, was France, which did so in 1791, during the Revolution.
That's total bullshit. Sorry, it just is.
Maybe if it wasn't for that fact, the Saudies weren't so rich and powerful, and those poor young Arabs, who for the most part like democracy as much as you do, could "rebel" against Saudies...
Evidence? That doesn't seem to be the way it's played out elsewhere in the region.
Please don't be fooled by the appearances - just because Morsi is being an asshole, Egypt parliament has banned porn websites or some cleric in Egypt says men can do XXX (some crazy thing), doesn't mean it was the will and wish of the Egyptian people. Do American people agree with everything US congress and president do?
But there's a big difference: in the US, you can disagree with them, argue about it, protest, hold a demonstration, and do anything you want to make your voice heard. Remember PIPA and SOPA? How many do you think were in favor of it? And it took the combined effort of Google/Facebook/Reddit/..., a 1-day internet blackout and millions of people mailing their senators to kill them.
Now, imagine the same thing happening in Egypt (before and after Mobarak) or KSA? Do you think people can freely protest?! What happened to those 99%-ers in US? (almost) nothing. What do you think will happen to people if/when they protest in KSA? Prison, torture, death.
That's why you don't hear as many complaints from Egyptians, Arabs, Chinese, Soviets (in the Cold War era, but even to some extent today in Russia), North Koreans or Cuban as you'd like. If the choice is to live in oppression, but live, or to die a gruesome death under torture, most people (understandably) choose the shitty live. But it doesn't mean they don't long for a better life.
And remember, you always (in any dispute, political or otherwise, anywhere in the world) hear the loudest, most extreme voice. Just because the loudest voice in KSA and Egypt is also the most backward, doesn't mean everyone agrees with it. Maybe they're the minority (population-wise) and can make their voice heard because they're rich/powerful!
Edit: as an aside (and remember, I'm not at all anti-US, maybe quite the contrary), consider the "Civil Rights Act of 1964". Some Martian coming to Earth in 60's might think: "hey, those American were no different than Nazi fascist they fought in WWII. Black people couldn't use white people's bathrooms, or sit on 'White-only' seats on the bus? Couldn't even go to the same schools, or apply for the same jobs? That's fucked up." - It's fair to assume that American were/are racist based on that fact, but you and I know that it's not true. Most Americans were NOT in favor of segregation, not all of them approved of slavery, not all of them were racist... Yet, it took about 200 years after US independence for them to gain these right. Hell, 2008 was the first year that there was a possibility that the president might not be a white man (Hillary Clinton / Obama)! Does that mean American people (of today) are anti-woman or anti-black?
As an aside: Would love to know how is it in Iran, from a guy like you and who lives there. So any great summary (like your comment above I am replying to), of situation in Iran, with references also if possible, would be great.
Edit(After thought): Please ignore my comment and do not reply, even if there is a slightest possibility of you facing any discomfort because of it...
US foreign policy stifles natural progress and evolution in many countries in the Middle East.
More or less continuous improvement over time. Unlike what we've seen in, say, Afghanistan and Iran.
Of course. That was more or less the point.
The U.S.-backed Shah of Iran (who was, let's make no mistake, an authoritarian dictator) was ejected and women's rights immediately took a profound backward step.
Do you deny it?
I'm sensing a prejudicial subtext from your comment and other comments you made, that you think the governments and the people they represent, are incapable of producing prosperous and just societies.
--Wait, WAT? In general, you confuse citizenship with democracy; and more particularly, you confuse a republic, with a democracy (the USA is the former, not the latter). Democracy is an ancient concept. Equally as old and well known are its many "problems", of which the ancients were well versed. The notion of a republic is an (historically) more sophisticated take on a democracy, and is well over two millenia old (Rome, etc).
The USA is a democratic republic.
No, the main thing that the US has at stake is the fact that the petroleum markets are denominated in US currency. It is this fact above all others that makes the dollar the world's reserve currency, and it is what makes the US the world's economic hegemon.
As Meyer Rothschild said, "Give me control over a nation's currency and I don't care who makes the laws." Such is the case for the United States because of petrodollar, which is truly what is at stake in Saudi Arabia.
The US sells arms to the rulers, as does the UK. Europe buys oil from them, as does China, in large amounts. But none of these nations force the KSA government to be oppressive. That's a choice the government there makes.
I'm merely forming an analogous argument to yours: mine is in support of subsidizing terrorists, yours is in support of subsidizing systematic violators of human rights. If you can point out why the analogy is not valid, please do so.
Re: your edit: at issue is not that the US purchases goods from the Saudis (though it could be argued that we have a moral obligation to impose an embargo), but rather, as the parent of your post suggested, that the US subsidizes artificially low oil prices from the region.
That's why we ended the profitable business of slavery, after all.
I'm fine with arguing that America should do something to help all oppressed people in the world (I don't think it's possible or should be done) but you can make that argument. You can't say it's our fault for not stopping it.
In case you aren't aware, Taliban and Mujahadeen were US allies in Afghanistan. And by ally, I mean really ally. They fought together against the Soviets. US was giving them weapons and aid. In a trip to Afghanistan, Zbigniew Brzezinski (Carter's National Security Advisor) called the Mujahadeen and Taliban (the same guys that were treating women like trash), "Soldiers of God" and told then
We know of their deep belief in god – that they’re confident that their
struggle will succeed. That land over there is yours and you’ll
go back to it some day, because your fight will prevail, and you’ll
have your homes, your mosques, back again, because your cause is right,
and god is on your side.
Or, if you have time, watch this episode of the terrific CNN documentary (Cold War, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIU0e23ZTcU
So, in essence: yes, US helped Mujahadeen, Taliban, Saudies and others. And people in the west are profiting from that.
I don't agree with everything these two article says, but at least watch the pictures:
Just look at this picture: http://www.globalresearch.ca/articlePictures/reaganandmujahi... - It's US president Ronald Reagan with some ass-backward, woman-beating fucks in the White House... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3f9mlUQzJA
It is very easy to argue that the US would be worse off if a rebel govt made Saudi Arabia unstable. It is not the US's fault that the govt that helps our goals also does bad things.
Like I said, I'm perfectly fine with you arguing we should do something about the oppression, and that we shouldn't be helping the current government. I'm not ok with saying it is our fault they are being oppressed. Just because we could do something about it, doesn't make it our fault.
If Joe shoots Tim, is it your fault because you didn't stop Joe? No. It's Joe's fault. He's the murderer. The Saudi govt are oppressing the women, and it's the Saudi govt's fault that the women are oppressed. By all means argue for doing something about it, but don't shift the blame where it isn't due.
If you're a friend and supporter of Joe's, you testify that he's a good man in the court (or United Nations), if you elected a government that gave Joe the weapon, if you profited from Tim being killed, then yes, you're also guilty. You've basically delegated the dirty job of "finding cheap oil by any means necessary so I can have an easier life" to Joe.
I'm not saying you should be the world's police; what I'm saying is if you profit from others being oppressed (so the oppressor can sell you oil cheaper so you can have a better life), it's your duty as a human being to try to change things for your brother.
Of course, if you're not profiting from that oppression, or aren't supporting the oppressor, then it's NOT your duty but still it would be nice to intervene.
> ... don't shift the blame where it isn't due.
Not at all. Those dictators are guilty of all those crimes. No one's arguing against that.
Maybe we should ask the current govt to improve themselves as part of our sales and aid, but I don't think that makes us responsible. The point is that the act of them oppressing women does not in any way shape or form help us. Stable govt helps us, and the current govt happens to be oppressive. That's where your argument breaks down. Killing Tim is not helping us profit. It's just happening, and we aren't stopping it. That's very different from that act helping us. We'd be perfectly fine with the current stable govt not being oppressive.
What do governments exist to do? To govern.
There are all sorts of choices to make about how to govern, many of which do not oppress the people.
Any form of terrorism by its nature will harm people.
So it's not really analogous.
In no way is the source of the oppression the US, or Europe, or China. The source of the oppression is the Saudi government.
One mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter. There is always an agenda, and terrorism is merely a means to an end that frustrated and (usually) deeply disturbed human beings turn to when they see no other viable course of action.
People say this a lot, but actually one mans terrorist is another mans terrorist. Legitimizing targeting civilians as "freedom fighting" is horrible.
If you actually fight for freedom, then freedom is the goal. But the goal of a terrorist is killing.
- PLO = Palestine Liberation Front
- ETA = Basque Homeland and Freedom
- IRA = Irish Republican Army
By your logic: It's not the royal family's fault either since all the awful stuff gets done by employees, who don't get to be absolved of responsibility of their actions. They make their own choices.
Now, keeping all that in mind, what do you think the local population will think of the US telling them which parts of the Qu'ran to not obey (according to their interpretation)?
Thank you for pointing this out.
Forcing countries to follow your views will likely provoke an opposite effect.
What could be done is just to remove all the financial, material and intelligence support that the US gives to that country.
But, this won't happen until the United States secures a source of energy that will be a suitable replacement to the oil from that region in terms of energy/mass, volume of production, compatibility with existing energy usage (can be used in average vehicle).
And do you think that the Saudis would just fall over if the US stopped buying their oil from them? China and India are growing energy consumers and their energy needs will grow at a faster rate than rate at which US energy usage will fall through technological breakthroughs.
And doing think the Saudi government as it is now is the worst thing imaginable? There maybe a few religious fundamentalists among them, but even at that end of the spectrum there are moderates and radicals. Moderate extremists and radical extremists: who would have thought? If the current government was to vanish overnight, the tug of war between people wanting more freedom and the extremists who are too extreme for the current government would massive. If anything, the extremists would have the most to lose and would thus fight the hardest (and the most dirty). And if you think foreign fighters in Afghanistan and Iraq were a problem, imagine the level of recruitment when you hear that the two holiest sites in Islam are under threat to "Western-backed" fighters. Even if the rest of world did not offer material aid, the extremist propaganda machine would term their enemies "Western-backed" because they would interpret any sort of sympathy as backing. And besides, they've "always" been fighting the West (think 1984 with a sprinkling of Call of Duty, but from the side you usually don't play).
After reading all this, you'll probably be thinking "you're damned if you do, and you're damned if you don't". You're right. The current policy seems to be to stonewall until a new development (for better or for worse) appears.
I wasn't referring to buying oil however, I was referring to aid, both in terms of charity as well as foreign and domestic intelligence and setting up the entire technological apparatus required to maintain an oppressive regime in the modern day.
There is no ethical argument that can be made that this is anyone other than equivalent to oppressing people yourself.
> And doing think the Saudi government as it is now is the worst thing imaginable?
Worst imaginable? Certainly worse than the bloody alternative you paint, yes. Americans who agree with their own founding principles certainly should think so. The argument in favour of the Saudi regime is that there would be too much violence if the people were not repressed by a totalitarian feudal theocracy? Stability over liberty? Which side you would have been on in the revolutionary war?
You are also completely glossing over the fact that the majority of the anti-american sentiment in the middle east is strongly tied to the fact that the US has military bases in Holy Land specifically to defend a feudal theocracy that oppresses the very people who are angry. No need for the bases if you stop supporting them. It's a few too many CIA backed oppressive regimes to expect things to change overnight but if you actually care about the amount of anti-western hate in the middle east the first step is probably to stop siding with the people oppressing them.
I'm not convinced by the holiest sites in Islam under threat to "western-backed" fighters narrative. They are currently not under threat, but under the literal control of western backed armies. Between the Saudi's and Israel and the current american controlled government in Iraq all major holy sites in Islam (Sunni and Shia) are controlled by American backed powers. "Under threat" would be an improvement.
Also the current policy is unapologetically expansionist, not stonewalling at all.
To be clear, I am not picking sides on this issue (my typos certainly didn't help). I am not at all supporting the status quo, but I do feel as though I need to clarify my argument.
The argument in favour of a Saudi regime is that oil guaranteed at certain supply and at a certain price. Despite the existing speculation of markets and all price volatility, there is this speculation that democracy in the place of the current regime would change the equation in manner that would be detrimental to US interests. In the transition years from the status quo to whatever could follow, this would be true. It may seem like a cop out to just say the problem with everything is oil, but given the recent economic problems we've seen in the news, any disruption in oil supply would pretty much derail anything that's left to be derailed.
I'm on your side with respect to the ethical argument, but you and I aren't the ones being voted in as POTUS or into Congress. They won't do anything that results in political suicide, and restricting technology companies from providing goods and services in KSA would be seen as just that. In short, the US government won't risk American quality of life for the sake of liberty around the world.
Aside: This last point is what really gets people around the world mad: America, a superpower and champion of human rights (according to US government rhetoric anyway), picks and chooses who gets democracy and who doesn't.
If all the US forces left tomorrow, the common people and fundamentalists would not forget the past. For some kind of withdrawal to even start to work, you would need a heartfelt apology of some kind. Otherwise, fundamentalists would just say something like, "they took what they wanted, humiliated us, then they left when we had nothing else to for them to take" irrespective of how true or false said statement is. The beauty of propaganda is that it works irrespective of facts; instead, it just needs some of Stephen Colbert's truthiness (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truthiness).
This concept of truthiness also comes back to the "western-backed" fighters narrative. I'm not saying that there are "western-backed" fighters there at the moment. What I am saying is: should the current regime ever disappear, there would be a real likelihood of there being a civil war between people who want freedom and religious fundamentalists who would aspire to something like "Taliban Afghanistan", but even more extreme. In such a civil war, the people fighting for some kind of democracy or republic would be painted as being "western-backed" simply because things like democracy are found in the West. You and I would debunk this right away, but there are few people there who would pick the devil the sort of know than devil they know. Moreso, when said known devil dresses as you do and comes from where you grew up (urban vs. rural all over again). Anyone can be a spin doctor -- anyone.
I will admit that this last paragraph is pure speculation. But someone with sufficient motivation and with stakes in such a conflict would take the time to construct convincing-enough argument that would snowball and absorb bits and pieces of fact and fiction Katamari Damacy style (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katamari_Damacy).
For your last point, I somewhat agree. When the US government has the resources in check, the policy is expansionist. However, the current economic climate that started prior to President Obama taking office in his first term has made it difficult to continue the pace. Right now, it seems more to be in a "let's finish what we started and regroup" state of affairs. Maybe I am preemptive in calling the current pause "stonewalling", but the pause is definitely letting certain people in government have a second look at where the country is and where they want it to be. Whether they decide continue on the current path or do something else remains to be seen. What I do know, is that the longer the current climate of uncertain economic recovery continues, the more attractive a different kind of "grand strategy" for US foreign policy becomes.
Still, even with good practical reasons: ethically indistinguishable from oppressing those people yourself.
> Right now, it seems more to be in a "let's finish what we started and regroup" state of affairs
I agree that's the spin, I'm not convinced that it's actually true. It's confused by the fairly large effects that a shift to drone based war is having but the number of countries that the United States is unofficially at war (remember declared legal wars? how quaint) with is growing, and growing quickly, rather than shrinking. Actions point to a very different foreign policy than the stated one.
Don't be fooled, if the US didn't care their BFF Pahlavi murdered and tortured Iranians, you shouldn't expect they care about women rights or whatever in SA.
It's still bad, but it's not as bad as you might fear.
People being treated like that is always completely unacceptable. Nothing can excuse that. Everything you say there really doesn’t matter at all for this evaluation.
Actually and effectively doing something about that is the hard part and there are probably no simple solutions. That doesn’t change the nature of this crass violation of human dignity.
Well, they shouldn't have to. That's the point.
I always held a similar belief. I found it ironic to hear liberal women talking about a "war on women" by the GOP, but never seem to muster enough strength to do something about these incredible injustices women endure in Saudi Arabia.
And since when did the US send aid money to the Saudis? Last time I check their oil pumps were working.
In Saudi Arabia, 95% of exports and 70% of government revenue come from oil, one of the big reasons I'm cheering on Musk/Tesla. Once oil is irrelevant, backwards religious bigots, from Saudi Arabia to Texas, will become irrelevant too.
The US has made a solid and consistent habit of supporting very distasteful governments in order to profit from them. This has been happening for almost a century now. The propaganda is so well crafted that most people do not notice the fact.
Ironically US could not elect it's first Women President yet. On contrary several Muslim states had a female PM/President.
This just made me realize: 1) a tool's just a tool, no matter how immaculate. 2) Never trust the user. 3) Don't give concentrated power to one group of people. 4) Beware the 1st rule of nature & evolution: The aggressive will dominate the passive.
Bombs and tanks don't scare these folks, but a girl with a book does.
I'm glad that our civilized governments would avoid such blatant sexism and instead mandate electronic tracking for all citizens, irrespective of gender. For our protection.
Sounds like the couple that got the text wasn't even aware of the service to begin with.
I was just wondering when children are dying in a place that is not very far from their main land, but their goverment is busy tagging their women -- I think they should focus on more "important" issue. Hope you got my point.
KSA isn't very kind to political offenders. They behead them in the public (with a sword!). So you'll excuse them (Arabs) if they're a little less eager to rebel against extremely rich and powerful Saudies than we'd like...
(I'm not saying that there's a shortage of thick-headed, stupid, overly-religious arabs in KSA. Such stupid people are everywhere, even in best parts of Europe. But they're not a true representative of "Arabs", in general).