Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi Arabian journalist who was killed by Saudi agents inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, was the keynote speaker at a conference in April organized by the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Denver and the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy in Washington. Excerpts from his speech, edited for clarity and length, are below.
I am from Saudi Arabia, where the issues of democracy and Islam are very much relevant. When a Saudi official wanted to brush away the question of democracy, in the past, he would always raise the question of whether democracy is compatible with Islam.… Seguir leyendo »
Saudi Arabia must face the damage from the past three-plus years of war in Yemen. The conflict has soured the kingdom’s relations with the international community, affected regional security dynamics and harmed its reputation in the Islamic world. Saudi Arabia is in a unique position to simultaneously keep Iran out of Yemen and end the war on favorable terms if it change its role from warmaker to peacemaker. Saudi Arabia could use its clout and leverage within Western circles and empower international institutions and mechanisms to resolve the conflict. However, the window for achieving a resolution to the conflict is rapidly closing.… Seguir leyendo »
The United States promised it would take “firm and appropriate measures” to protect the cease-fire in southern Syria. However, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, along with the Russians and Iranians, are advancing toward the southern part of the country. Assad’s army has been pounding the southern region with airstrikes. Regime forces are on track to repeat the same human catastrophes that happened in Aleppo last year and Eastern Ghouta this March. Southern Syria is the liberated zone; the besieged city of Daraa is the cradle of Syrian revolution, and it hasn’t fallen yet. But 1 million Syrians, living for now in relative security outside the control of the regime known for its vengeance, are feeling nervous.… Seguir leyendo »
It is appalling to see 60- and 70-year-old icons of reform being branded as “traitors” on the front pages of Saudi newspapers.
Women and men who championed many of the same social freedoms — including women driving — that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is now advancing were arrested in Saudi Arabia last week. The crackdown has shocked even the government’s most stalwart defenders.
The arrests illuminate the predicament confronting all Saudis. We are being asked to abandon any hope of political freedom, and to keep quiet about arrests and travel bans that impact not only the critics but also their families.… Seguir leyendo »
In the whirlwind of headlines about Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his highly visible campaign against corruption, one might forget that barely a week earlier, he was courting titans of global industry, technology and finance at an investment conference that was also the launch of NEOM, a gleaming futuristic metropolis. As Dave Eggers writes in “A Hologram for the King”, in which an American salesman travels to Saudi Arabia to visit a similarly promising marvel, “There were people in the world for whom the world and its people were subjects on which to cast spells.”
The spell was broken when dozens of royals, along with current and former senior officials, were detained at the Ritz Carlton, accused of corruption.… Seguir leyendo »
The protests in Iran, about to enter their second week, have dominated headlines in Saudi Arabia. Broadcast channels are transfixed, airing coverage that would lead you to believe that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s regime in Tehran is about to collapse. After failing to short-circuit the Iran nuclear deal, and with Iran dominating conflicts in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, Saudi Arabia has a new and unexpected ally: the Iranian people.
In any case, Iranians do not speak Arabic, they speak Farsi. And given the history of antipathy between our two countries that predates the House of Saud and the Islamic Republic, our “support” is probably as well-received as the Trump administration’s.… Seguir leyendo »
The death of Yemeni strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh shows that Saudi Arabia is paying for its betrayal of the Arab spring in Yemen in 2011.
Saleh, Yemen’s former president, was killed on Monday by Houthi forces, who were his former allies. He was the sort of wily, corrupt Arab leader that would have been deposed during the Arab Spring. After watching allies and “frenemies” fall in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, the late Saudi King Abdullah established a hard-line position against any similar moves on the Arabian peninsula. In the case of Yemen, Riyadh acted pre-emptively: fears of instability on the southern border led Saudi Arabia to orchestrate a leadership change in the country.… Seguir leyendo »
When Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen erupted in March 2015, there was widespread Saudi popular support for it – including by me. Like other Saudi citizens, I was concerned about Iran’s sectarian expansionist policies, as its influence has extended across the entire region north of the Saudi borders, the “Shia crescent” that extends from Iran to the Mediterranean. Today, Iran can easily construct a highway extending from Tehran to Beirut across Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. This arc of influence is a very real threat to Saudi Arabia.
Also, I strongly supported the war against Houthi rebels because I saw them as the antithesis of the Arab Spring that my government, unlike me, fiercely opposed. … Seguir leyendo »
Saturday night’s high-profile arrests in Saudi Arabia have sent shock waves through the global political Richter scale. The arrests, including that of such well-known figures as my former boss Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, came within hours of changes in the leadership of a number of important ministries, as well as to the leadership and structure of the much-respected Saudi national guard.
Saudi royals view themselves as The Party, sharing power and ruling by consent, in an arrangement that is largely opaque. What is absolutely clear after Saturday’s “Night of the Long Knives” is that Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman is upending this arrangement and centralizing all power within his position as crown prince.… Seguir leyendo »
The United States and its European allies appear unable or unwilling to intervene effectively and forcefully in Syria. Therefore it is time to consider a military solution under the auspices of the Arab League to protect Syrian civilians from further violence and ultimately dislodge the government of Bashar al-Assad.
Over the past two-and-a-half years, gut-wrenching images of unspeakable, indiscriminate violence against civilians in Syria have shocked the world. By the latest United Nations estimates, over 100,000 Syrians, including many children, have been killed as a result of the Assad regime’s criminal behavior.
Whether through the murder of peaceful protesters, the shelling of residential quarters with chemical weapons, or the execution of soldiers who refuse to open fire on their countrymen, the Syrian regime has systematically defied even the most basic international moral and legal standards.… Seguir leyendo »