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Saudi Arabia implements electronic tracking system for women (rawstory.com)
176 points by manuletroll on Nov 22, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 122 comments

Religious extremism can be very convincing when you are into it. The problem is very similar to the editor religion. Unless you are shown the other part of the world you may never realize the futility of your ideology and actions.

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.

Saudi Arabia isn't quite as bad as Medieval England, where you could be hung, drawn and quartered (a horrific way to exit this world), but pretty damn close...

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-...

> 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.

Don't forget unquestioned support from western governments.

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.

OTOH, the west would probably support any kind of stable government there. KSA doesn't have seem to have much else other than oil, so they would have to cooperate as well. Foreign support may provide credentials to the ruling family, but in the end it's the citizens (or in their case, subjects) that define their collective fate.

they're also vahabi which is very extremist part of islamic nation so it's not quite suprising actually. As you see if an islamic country which has a solid relationship with western countries(money, petrol, strategic position in middle east), event they have monarchy, even they're degenerated, they don't need to be forced by USA, EU to have a democracy which others, Iraq, Syria already are having. God bless America

Interesting that what you described is reminiscent of the Jahiliyyah. Al Saud, in this context, reminds me of Quraysh.

> Interesting that what you described is reminiscent of the Jahiliyyah

In what way?

> Unless you are shown the other part of the world you may never realize the futility of your ideology and actions

Exactly. If you think christianity is any better, I've got news for you:


Of course, because one loon is easily equated with the entire Christian base.

Also notice how the parent never mentioned "Islam". Please don't start a fight that doesn't belong here.

Oh, did evangelicals distance himself from this "loon"? Did he lose his job? Do you know why not? Because they support what he says.

Oh come on, if every religious person or institution has to condemn every nutcase who spells "God" the same, there'd be no time left to eat.

Do they need to? I'd like to know who supports what he says other than the people who are already considered part of that fringe. I don't. I don't know anybody who does.

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.

He's the pastor of one church. His bigoted redneck church supports him, and that's all he needs to keep his job. There is no other group that can "fire" him.

How dare you assume people here are Christian?

We actually have a brain.

"Women under male custody". Wow. I hadn't realized Saudi Arabia is so primitive. If the US Government is going to send them billions in aid (to buy weapons from US companies, and therefor indirectly subsidize them), can't it influence some of these decisions? Or does it prefer it when it's run by dictators?

The United States sends them billions of dollars worth of arms, surveillance tech and other tools to oppress the Saudi populace. It does this (and has done this for many decades now) in order to keep the oil flowing.

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.

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)

The US backed militant jihadists when a movement usually known as "arab nationalism" was thriving in the region and had vast popular support. Arab nationalism was against current foreign policy of Saudi Arabia and was in fact pretty secular and very progressive for its time. The US didn't want them because "it waz teh commiez".

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.

This is a very solid and informative post. If you're interested about this period of history, I recommend reading "Thicker than Oil" by Rachel Bronson, a book which documents the U.S. - Saudi relationship during the 20th century. It covers all of these events and more.

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.

The sad story of modern Afghanistan (late 70's through 2001) might be also of interest to those who want to know more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_in_Afghanistan_(1978–presen...

If it wasn't for the damn Cold War, probably today Afghanistan would probably be more developed than Iran... :(

Arab nationalism didn't take off as much in Saudi Arabia as it did in Jordan, Syria, and Egypt. The religious and conservative nature of Saudi's traditional nomadic tribes, the location of Mecca and Medina, these have more to do with the traditional low status of women in the region.

"Charlie Wilson's War" is one of the more readable and entertaining introductions to US sponsorship of unsavory jihadists.

It's come and gone, but the region has actually has some pretty socially liberal governments on and off, at times when the West in comparison were pretty backwards. The Ottoman Empire, which ruled most of Saudi Arabia at the time, decriminalized homosexuality as part of its Tanzimat liberal reforms, in 1858. It was the first country in the world to do so.[1]

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.

[1] 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.

Turkey has been an exception. You're right. It doesn't alter the point, which was poking fun at the bizarre notion that the oppression of women in Saudi Arabia is BECAUSE of the United States.

That's total bullshit. Sorry, it just is.

I'm not anti-US or anti-west at all, but one could argue that it's some kind of modern slavery. US and KSA are allies (despite KSA being the #1 human rights violator), US profits from KSA's oil and because they buy billions of dollars of weapons from them, so for the US, a repressive government for KSA is much better than a democratic one.

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...

"poor young Arabs, who for the most part like democracy as much as you do"

Evidence? That doesn't seem to be the way it's played out elsewhere in the region.

Evidence is what happened in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, what's happening in Syria and also, most importantly, my personal experience (I live in Iran) and what happened 3 years ago here.

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"[1]. 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?

[1]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Rights_Act_of_1964

Thanks for your very informative comment(s) and several good points on this discussion.

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...

Set aside national boundaries and what we're talking about is super-rich ultra-religious hypocrites, and Saudi Arabia sure has no monopoly on those. There are plenty of people in the US who'd happily roll back two hundred or more years of social progress for the great unwashed, and then send their daughters to Europe to get educated and Canada for abortions, and send their sons to Monte Carlo to have sex and gamble.

Of course the United States, since its inception, has a perfect track record of treating women and minorities (sarcasm).

US foreign policy stifles natural progress and evolution in many countries in the Middle East.

"Of course the United States, since its inception, has a perfect track record of treating women and minorities "

More or less continuous improvement over time. Unlike what we've seen in, say, Afghanistan and Iran.

Your point?

You do realize that the US has been intervening in Iran and Afghanistan for decades, right? The Soviet war in Afghanistan, during the late 80s in which the US was involved in support of the Mujahideen, widely considered to be the cause of blowback. Speaking of blowback, the Iranian revolution against the US-backed Shah in the late 70s. A few decades is hardly enough time for "continuous improvement."

"You do realize that the US has been intervening in Iran and Afghanistan for decades, right?"

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?

When US installed the Shah as a dictator of Iran, the social policies of Iran took a profound backwards step.


Thomas Friedman, in "hot flat and crowded" makes an elaborate case linking the price of crude oil to the undemocratic and oppressive nature of (middle eastern) governments.

How does he explain the undemocratic and oppressive nature (in general) of middle eastern governments for millennia before oil was even discovered?

Undemocratic and oppressive nature of mideast governments for millennia? Seriously? :)

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.

Millennia? You do realize democracy is a less-than-four-hundreds year old concept? At least in its modern sense, which I would like to think is the one you are referring to when speaking about women rights (i.e. "democracy" that abhors slavery/serfdom... those slave athenian woman definitely had no rights).

You do realize democracy is a less-than-four-hundreds year old concept?

--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).

> you confuse a republic, with a democracy (the USA is the former, not the latter)

The USA is a democratic republic.

Athenian democracy

Um most other places were pretty oppressive too as far back as recorded history goes. Democracy and human rights for all citizens are pretty recent developments.

Subtract the sarcasm from your comment for more effect.

To keep the oil flowing? No, I don't think that's the US's primary motivation. With so much money to be made, there is very little that could stop the oil flowing (think how quickly Iraq's oil came back online, even in the face of insurgency).

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.

No, the source of the problem is the local rulers. Sorry, they don't get to be absolved of responsibility for their actions. They make their own choices.

By that logic it is OK to donate money to terrorist groups, because they make their own choices and are solely to blame for their actions. Correct?

Please refrain from making strawman arguments. We're discussing the source of the problem. The source is in fact the local rulers. They make the choices.

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.

No one forces terrorists to terrorize. Therefore donating no-strings-attached monetary aid to terrorists is not to blame for acts of terrorism, correct?

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.

It breaks down because our government exists to serve us, not the Saudis. Supporting terrorists is obviously 100% bad for us. Supporting cheap oil, while maybe not 100% good, certainly is an easier argument to make. Would we prefer they didn't put their women in de facto slavery? Of course. Does it effect us? No. Would a rebel govt that disrupts oil production effect us? Yes.

But if you're profiting from the fact that exactly because those women are oppressed, you can have cheap oil (thus cheap car, cheap iPhone, cheap internet, etc.), don't you feel that as a human being, it's your duty to protest? Especially since if you do, you won't be sentenced to prison, torture or death (as those poor women would if they protested) because you have the privilege of living in a free, democratic country?

That's why we ended the profitable business of slavery, after all.

We aren't profiting because they are oppressed. They are being oppressed and we aren't actively speaking out against it. Those are different things. This is the same BS we see all the time in America. People need to take personal responsibility. These women are being oppressed by the Saudi government. America hasn't helped them, but that doesn't make it our fault.

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.

I disagree. By buying oil and selling arms, they are helping them.

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.
Watch it on video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4lf0RT72iw

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

What I said was that American hasn't helped the women. Obviously they have helped the Saudi govt. That doesn't make them responsible for it.

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 Joe shoots Tim, is it your fault because you didn't stop Joe?

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.

I don't think we are that far off here, but we're going to have to agree to disagree. I don't we are profiting from them being oppressive. We are profiting from a stable govt. I'm not convinced that random rebels (who are also Muslim) are going to be a huge improvement for women.

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.

Then why are American's crying about China's human rights violations and imposing sanctions against them ?

what do terrorist organizations exist to do? To terrorize.

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.

> what do terrorist organizations exist to do? To terrorize.


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.

> One mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter

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.

Somebody should help terrorists choose names for their organizations, then:

  - PLO = Palestine Liberation Front

  - ETA = Basque Homeland and Freedom

  - IRA = Irish Republican Army
etc. I would call someone whose goal is killing a soldier or a murderer. IMO, the reason terrorists kill civilians is the same as why, in a dispute between two children of largely different strength, the one who is verbally weakest will start fighting, and the one who is physically weakest then will start fighting dirty (biting, nail scratching, hair pulling, etc)

Some would say that being buddies with these rulers (Bush (Sr. and Jr.) and Saudies were close friends and allies), buying oil and selling arms is exactly what enables KSA and co. to be "oppressive".

And of course there has to be a single source right? What a childish worldview.

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.

Saudi Arabia is one of the most fundamentalist Islamic countries, not at the royalty level who rule the country, but at the imam and religious law level. There is a separate religious police, who's job it is to enforce the Qu'ran as interpreted by the strict imams. Only Afghanistan under Taliban rule was arguably worse in recent times.

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)?

> 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.

The monarchy justifies its rule by showering the religious leadership with money and hiding their excesses with a veil of piety. This doesn't meant the Saudi people agree with it -- a large fraction of the Saudi population (I'd venture to say a majority, but there's really no way to tell) also finds the Wahhabi intepretation of sharia excessive, but they have no say in the matter.

Yes, that would probably backfire horribly.

What could be done is just to remove all the financial, material and intelligence support that the US gives to that country.

That would be part of the solution, but doing that alone would cause more problems than it would solve.

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.

Those are good points, it's not a black and white issue.

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.

TL;DR Yes, oppression of people in KSA needs to stop (A). However, drastic (read: US government) actions will hurt US interests (read: recovery and growth) (B). If individuals and corporations (read: we the people) take a more voluntary approach, we work towards A while hopefully avoiding B.


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.

Oh yes, I completely understand the political arguments for needing oil guaranteed at a certain supply and a certain price. Hell, a huge percentage of food production depends on cheap and plentiful oil.

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.

You'd be very surprised to notice how often locals give less of a crap about stuff that enrages the western blogger crowd, or how many non-Americans don't share the feeling US needs to stick their nose into every other country's internal affairs.

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.

You think it is only American bloggers who have a concern? That's nonsense. This is human rights, basic human rights. Women in Saudi are treated like pets, and it should be judged abhorrent by any (relatively) civilised society.

They're treated badly by the state (officially), but it's getting better, AND many Saudis actually do treat each other much more reasonably than the law requires -- behind closed doors, plenty of Saudi women are living decent lives, and spend as much of their time outside Saudi as possible.

It's still bad, but it's not as bad as you might fear.

I’m not sure how that is relevant?

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.

>and spend as much of their time outside Saudi as possible.

Well, they shouldn't have to. That's the point.

>>>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.

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.

you somehow missed the main point, which was they should mind their own business not "do something to fix a place they are not entitled to fix, a place they don't even understand", especially when modern history shows they don't even mind manslaughter at all as long as the oil/cash/whatever is flowing.

Really? You think the US government cares about Saudi Arabian women? I don't think they're that benevolent.

And since when did the US send aid money to the Saudis? Last time I check their oil pumps were working.

US sends military aid to SA as a mean of protecting their interests in the region. SA is not exactly a friend with Iran and the US makes sure their pumps don't change ownership.

nitpick. "SA" is usually the initialism for South Africa (RSA). For Saudi Arabia it's KSA, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

And the UK, whose arms sales to KSA are not exactly negligible.


Arms deals and aid are different. However, you're right, and Alyamamah isn't the only one. The huge sums of money and fraud involved in all the arms deals between the Gulf Nations and the West is embarrassing to to both ends to say the least.

I was reading about Saudi Arabia earlier, it's quite a strange place (compared to some of the western world). Their royal family is especially interesting, they have something like $1 trillion USD to their names: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Saud

And very close ties to the Bush family: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Bush,_House_of_Saud

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.

They will become irrelevant as far as Americans watching CNN are concerned.

Even more ironic given that the Taliban's treatment of women is frequently used to justify the war in Afghanistan.


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.

_Women under male custody_

Ironically US could not elect it's first Women President yet. On contrary several Muslim states had a female PM/President.

Oddly enough, this represents progress of a sort. Until fairly recently, Saudi women did not have identity numbers or cards, effectively meaning that they could be murdered by relatives with no repercussions.



I always thought that advancing technology would move humanity towards freedom from oppression. Turns out, the oppressors simply adjusted their tactics to use technology against freedom.

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.

"To every man is given the key to the gates of heaven; the same key opens the gates of hell." - Buddhist proverb, via Richard Feynman

I'm trying to remember that quotation I've stolen and hatcheted this from:

Bombs and tanks don't scare these folks, but a girl with a book does.

This was when the Pakistani girl was shot for displaying "Western beliefs" by going to school

Some additional information on this, including how the system has been in place since 2010, with the recent change being that you're now (somehow) getting text messages without registering your mobile number:


That's truly horrible.

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.

Note that the US and Canada governments, despite their posturing about the Taliban's abuse of women, are very friendly with Saudi Arabia.

I don't really see the point of this, given that women and non-adults can't cross a border anyway without a signed permit from their father or husband. I'm guessing this text message system works for children too.

As an onion headline, it would have been hilarious. As a real story, it's scary as hell.

Most Probably Saudi government will not need to come up with such steps like US government to safegaud American women?



Are you aware of the twitter backlash? Are you also trying to say that imprisoned women are quite happy or unaware of their situation? Religious restrictions don't make restrictions right, if they are opposed by force. Your comments above are rather tactless I'm afraid.

Other countries in the area have had this for a while. For example, the United Arab Emirates sends out text messages when any dependant enters or leaves the country.

"Electronic tracking system for women"? You mean passports?

Obviously this is because so many Saudi women are ninjas.

Is anyone in San Antonio planning to print this article and hand it to the principals of John Jay High School and Jay Science & Engineering Academy?

This is such a disappointing use of technology.

How are they tracking the women? Phones?

Sounds like the couple that got the text wasn't even aware of the service to begin with.

No, it's nowhere near as high tech as the article makes it sound. In contrast to how it works in the UK for example, in Saudi Arabia you have to go through passport control whenever you leave the country. This new system checks if the person leaving is a child or a woman and texts their father's or husband's phone number if they have it registered. They can find that information because it's all part of the ID system that's been implemented for decades.

I can't make up my mind what's worse...KSA tracking women or France telling them what they can and can't wear

This is a ludicrous distortion of facts. French law only forbid some kind of dressing. Furthermore, it was done in the name of women's rights and dignity, pretty much the opposite of KSA.

Hint: it's #1. The women of france, as part of the population, voted for what they can't wear (not what they can) as a tiny sacrifice for the greater good. Superficial comparisons are always misleading

Try harder.

So, from a story about tracking kids in a US school to tracking women in Saudi. See where this leads?

They should pass laws to emancipate dogs in the West - your move Saudi.

Just wondering could these people make a single tracking device of their own.

I just love the supreme amount of xenophobia an arrogance packed in the expression "these people".

yes, you got it almost right, but my above comment does not actually involve any "xenophobism" or "arrogance", rather it is "disgust". I am not arab, but somewhat closely related.

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.

And I hope you understand that throughout the history, there have been very few occasions that a government has done what its people wanted. Usually they either oppress them, or "fool" them.

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).

Well, I'm an Arab, and I can. What's your point?


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