“Saudi Arabia enjoys a spectacular level of impunity from international accountability. This is not only because it has the world’s richest and largest royal family with influence spread far and wide. And it is not even just about oil, although having a quarter of the world’s pre-fracking energy reserves still engenders utmost deference from those many modern economies that will depend on Gulf oil and gas for as long as the precious black stuff lasts. However, the recent election of Saudi Arabia to the UN Human Rights Council, partly due to a secret vote swap with the UK, seems to have crossed a line. Mainstream eyebrows that have usually looked the other way when it came to the Saudi record on human rights have now been raised. And if that was not enough of an affront, the Saudi UN ambassador has just been selected to chair the influential Human Rights Council “consultative panel” that recommends to the president of the council a short-list of whom shall be appointed as Special Rapporteurs, including on such issues as rights of women, freedom of expression and religious freedom…………..”
When we were kids on the Gulf, a joke was making the rounds back home and in some foreign media. It quoted the late humorless Saudi King Faisal Al Saud that the world was not bi-polar, that there were in fact three superpowers: USA, USSR, and Kuwait. The king was quoted as making an uncharacteristic joke here, perhaps with a tinge of jealousy. At that time Saudi Arabia was not ‘rich’ yet, and Kuwait was the major oil producer and most advanced state on the Arab side of the Persian Gulf.
Now it almost seems that the new uni-polar world has several superpowers. That the Al Saud are often being treated by Western salesmen-leaders as one of them. If not, then they are at least considered untouchable by Western governments. In America they would be one addition to the untouchable issues of politics in Washington: perhaps a ‘fourth rail’ added to the ‘three rails’ of politics. Just look at the record:
- They behead and crucify people in public, including common criminals, hapless foreign laborers, witches, warlocks, magicians, as well as members of the political opposition who are not of the Wahhabi faith. The only regime that does so with impunity. ISIS (DAESH) cutthroats are correctly criticized by official Western hypocrites when they do that. The Iranian regime is also rightly criticized by official Western hypocrites when it hangs people in groups, including drug dealers and others. But no official criticism is heard anymore, especially from the US, British, and French governments, of the more barbaric Saudi practices.
- They ban all other religions and religious practices except Wahhabism. The Muslim Shi’a minority are third-class citizens at best, but they are barely tolerated and only because they were in the Eastern Province long before the Wahhabis conquered it during the last century. Only ISIS (DAESH) is more intolerant.
- For months they have been bombing the poorest Arab country, Yemen, with the latest lethal weapons the Western governments can sell, including cluster bombs. They and their fellow tribal potentates and hired Afro-Arab mercenary regimes. No complaint or criticism is heard from Washington, London, or Paris. In fact I suspect that the targets (the victims) are often picked and located for them by Western intelligence and satellite technology.
- This least democratic, most repressive and backward tribal regime is allowed the chutzpah of claiming to be working to bring democracy and free speech to other countries, especially Syria and Yemen.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum