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Kiriakou writes: "Saudi Arabia, that champion of religious freedom, civil liberties, and human rights, seems to have found itself as the new chair of the United Nations Human Rights Council. This is despite the fact that the Kingdom is having a bad year, even by Saudi human rights standards, and has beheaded more people in 2015 than ISIS."

Left: Faisal Trad, Saudi Arabia's ambassador in Geneva, has been elected Chair of the UN Human Rights Council panel that appoints independent experts. Right: Michael Møller, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva. (photo: UN)
Left: Faisal Trad, Saudi Arabia's ambassador in Geneva, has been elected Chair of the UN Human Rights Council panel that appoints independent experts. Right: Michael Møller, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva. (photo: UN)


Saudi Arabia Has No Business Chairing the UN Human Rights Council

By John Kiriakou, Reader Supported News

23 October 15

 

audi Arabia, that champion of religious freedom, civil liberties, and human rights, seems to have found itself as the new chair of the United Nations Human Rights Council. This is despite the fact that the Kingdom is having a bad year, even by Saudi human rights standards, and has beheaded more people in 2015 than ISIS. If any Saudi watchers thought for a moment that the country’s new King, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Sa’ud, would be a progressive and forward-leaning force, that idea was dispelled almost immediately. Indeed, it’s been a busy year for the King.

The Western press has reported widely on King Salman’s recent decision to behead and then crucify a 17-year-old boy after convicting him of a wide variety of “capital” crimes, including participating in an anti-government protest, “breaking alliance with the king,” and sedition. The sentence is a violation of international law, of course, as Saudi Arabia is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, although the Saudis don’t seem to care about that. The child is also a member of the minority Shia Muslim sect, which the Saudis care even less about.

Saudi blogger Raif Badawi was sentenced in June to six years in prison and 1,000 lashes for creating a website where he talked about (gasp!) democracy and human rights. Badawi even had the unmitigated gall to advocate religious freedom in the Kingdom. U.S. officials, no doubt hoping to draw on Washington’s “special relationship” with Riyadh, asked for leniency for Badawi, but instead got a middle finger. The blogger will receive 50 lashes a week until he’s undergone 1,000.

And just this week a Saudi professor was sentenced to 10 years in prison and barred from international travel for another 10 years for posting a video online in which he called for equal rights for women. His multiple felony charges included “disobeying the ruler,” “founding a human rights organization,” and “supporting protests.” The professor was the third Saudi human rights activist to be sentenced to prison in the past week.

I’ve had my own personal experience in Saudi Arabia. I served there for three months in the immediate aftermath of the first Gulf War. It was the summer of 1991, and the U.S. had just won a war to protect Saudi oil. One evening after work, I accompanied two female State Department officers to a local mall in Riyadh. As per the U.S. Embassy’s agreement with the Saudi government, our female officers had to wear a full-length black “abaya,” which covered their entire bodies, and scarves to cover their hair, but they did not have to cover their faces. That agreement did not stop two “mutawaeen,” the Saudi “religious police,” from whipping them in the legs with bamboo canes because they were uncovered. Shouting “Prostitutes!” the mutawaeen tried to take both of my colleagues to jail for the night. A protracted shouting match got us out of it.

It gets worse. The Embassy’s deputy chief of mission – the second-ranking officer in the Embassy – happened to be married to an American woman who was working as a nurse at the King Faisal Eye & Ear Hospital. He drove her to work one day, looked around to see if anybody was watching, determined that nobody was, and kissed his wife on the cheek. In seconds, two mutawaeen were on him. They pulled him out of the car through the window and beat him so severely that he had to receive more than a dozen stitches to close a wound over his eye. The Embassy lodged a protest, the Saudi Foreign Minister apologized, and the incident repeated itself over and over again over the next 24 years.

So what can Washington do to influence its erstwhile dear friend and key ally? It can get tough, which is exactly what was supposed to have happened in 1992. That year, then-Pennsylvania senator Arlen Specter pushed a bill through Congress called “The Religious Freedom Restoration Act .” President George H.W. Bush signed it into law. It called for an immediate cessation of arms sales to any country that did not respect religious freedom. Great idea, right? But Congress, in its infinite wisdom, also wrote in a waiver provision, allowing the president to ignore the law if it was “in the interests of national security.” So every year since 1992, every president has given Saudi Arabia a waiver, thus allowing the Saudis to remain one of the world’s worst offenders on religious freedom. And that’s to say nothing about women’s rights, and the rights of children, liberals, or Shia Muslims.

The executive director of the human rights group UN Watch said last week that “Saudi Arabia has arguably the worst record in the world when it comes to religious freedom and women’s rights … This UN appointment is like making a pyromaniac into the town fire chief.” He’s right. And what’s Secretary of State John Kerry’s position on Saudi Arabia leading the UN Human Rights Council? His spokesman said, “We would welcome it.” 



John Kiriakou is an Associate Fellow with the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington DC. He is a former CIA counterterrorism operations officer and former senior investigator for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

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+40 # Dongi 2015-10-23 21:26
Kerry's position is absolutely and totally ridiculous. We should lay the law down to the Saudis and not tolerate its medieval attitudes. Their position toward women, children and Shiites is utterly barbaric and has no place in the modern world. We should also inform them that they can take their damned oil and shove it. We'll develop petroleum free energy sources with the same concerted effort that we used to build the bomb.

Without our military support, we'll see how much confidence they have in a world full of shiite nations like Iran and Iraq. And, how tough the mutawaeen will be when facing people who know how to fight back. This is the kind of bull shit that we have to get away from. Sanity and common sense are long overdue in our foreign policy.
 
 
+30 # Cdesignpdx 2015-10-23 22:04
Nuance? I don't have to read this article to say, "the U.N. has now lost all of its (remaining) credibility."
 
 
+36 # Farafalla 2015-10-23 22:36
Good God, I do so hate Saudi Arabia. It is an awful country with an awful foreign policy. Most of those who attacked the US on 9-11 were Saudis. They were products of the religio-politic al indoctrination that prevails in that country. Saudi Arabia has never done anything to promote human progress. They are a vile cult of bloodthirsty oil barons bent on dominating Islam with their fuctup ideology.

We are on the wrong side once again.
 
 
+21 # Rockster 2015-10-24 01:06
Why are " we " on the side of The House of Sad "?? I
Know Oil and Money are very persuasive but it just feels like there's something even more repugnant going on here .
 
 
+18 # Dongi 2015-10-24 03:11
I agree. It's like the evil ones in the US are cooperating with the evil ones in Saudi Arabia. Satan's army ready to fuck up the earth. They deal in pain and really make people suffer. Time for a cleansing!
 
 
+22 # RMDC 2015-10-24 06:44
"Why are " we " on the side of The House of Sad "

The answer is that "we" created the House of Saud. Pres. Franklin Roosevelt with his British counterparts actually visited the Saudi emirs in the 1930s and promised to help them unite the Arabian pennsula in exchange for an eternal bond between the US and the Saudi family. This would include the right to pump oil. With help from the US military, the Saud clan militarily defeated the dozen or so other family clans in the Arabian pennsula and then declared the land to be "Saudi" Arabis.

To this day, the Saudi royal family is protected by the US military working as a Saudi nantional guard.

The US has also promoted Wahabbi fundamentalism as the missionary sect of Islam. All Islamic radicals come out of the Wahabbi sect, espeically ISIS, al Qaeda, the Taliban.

Saudi Arabia is an agency of US imperialism in the entire muslim world, including central asia and Africa. The US has its best tool in Saudi Arabia. It is the US which does not give a shit about human rights.
 
 
+20 # harleysch 2015-10-24 08:54
Actually, it was the British which "created" the House of Saud. In 1915, Sir Percy Cox signed an agreement with Abdul-Aziz Ibn Saud, making the land under his control a "British protectorate." At the time, the Arabian peninsula was still part of the Ottoman Empire.

The Brits supported the Hussein family in the Hejaz, in the west, while backing the Saud tribe in the east, to run the "Arab Revolt" against the Ottomans. After the collapse of the Ottomans following World War I, the Brits moved the Hussein family out of Arabia, giving the whole territory to the Saudis. The chief negotiator for Ibn Saud with the oil companies was Harry Philby, a Brit operative, and father of triple agent Kim Philby. It was Philby who arranged the 1930s agreement, which turned Saudi oil over to Aramco.

Otherwise, RMDC is right about the U.S. backing Wahabbi fundamentalism. The latest to do so, in a sickening display, has been Obama, who has embraced King Salmon, while backing Saudi funding of Wahabbite jihadists in Syria and Iraq. This is disgraceful, and is but another example of Obama following in the footsteps of the murderous Bush family.
 
 
+3 # lfeuille 2015-10-24 17:05
Quoting Rockster:
Why are " we " on the side of The House of Sad "?? I
Know Oil and Money are very persuasive but it just feels like there's something even more repugnant going on here .


Oil and Money, but also Israel which has decided it prefers Al Quida and ISIS and Saudi Arabia to Iran and Shiites. Why, I don't know.
 
 
+21 # goodsensecynic 2015-10-24 03:45
While I am sympathetic to Dongi's attitudes toward Saudi Arabia's political and religious practices and beliefs, I wonder precisely which "law" he wants to "lay down."

Incidentally, now that Stephen Harper has been sent packing from his prime ministerial perch in Canada, I wonder if the incoming head of government, Justin Trudeau, can find a lawful way to cancel the $15 billion worth of military equipment that the previous government authorized for sale to the Saudis.
 
 
+15 # Dongi 2015-10-24 04:02
The law of humanity, of basic rights, of women's lib, of human freedom for starters. There must be further listings of such rights among UN documents.
 
 
+16 # tedrey 2015-10-24 05:03
Saudi Arabia's human rights record is indeed atrocious, but I fear that years of the US giving Israel (and itself) a free pass despite numerous General Assembly condemnations doesn't put us in a very strong position for protest.
 
 
+7 # jdd 2015-10-24 06:27
When it comes to the Mid-East, Saudi policy and Israeli policy are the same, so the US can hide under "arab support." Aside from the obvious stated above, it is through state supported wahabist jihad that most terrorism is carried out, including the Afghan mujahadeen, the creation of Al-Qaeda, 911. ISIS, Al-Nusra, The Army of Conquest, etc., etc. Saudi Arabia, a country named after a family, is a creation of the British monarchy and exists only with the the support of the British and the US, its terrorist minions used foot soldiers for whichever state is being targeted by the US/NATO. If the Bush/Obama censored "28 pages" of the 911 Joint Commission Report were released to the public, then perhaps heads would roll in Riyadh and Washington.
 
 
+6 # Helga Fellay 2015-10-24 10:06
Why would the US want to protest in the first place - considering the US and Israel commit the most human rights violations. In fact, I suspect it was the US (which largely controls the UN) that made sure that the UN Human Rights Council would not ever criticize either the US or Israel for human rights violations by having the Council headed by a Saudi who will do whatever the US ally says, and who probably wouldn't be able to recognize a human rights violation in the first place.
 
 
+3 # lfeuille 2015-10-24 17:07
Quoting tedrey:
Saudi Arabia's human rights record is indeed atrocious, but I fear that years of the US giving Israel (and itself) a free pass despite numerous General Assembly condemnations doesn't put us in a very strong position for protest.


True, but we could stop arming them. We could withdraw support for their military adventurism in Yemen.
 
 
+9 # RMDC 2015-10-24 06:46
"has beheaded more people in 2015 than ISIS."

This is because ISIS was created by Saudi Arabia on instructions from the Obama regime's CIA. ISIS is a junior partner of the Saudi regime. All of its beliefs esp. the part about a caliphate come from Saudi Wahabbism.

Saudi Arabis is the real caliphate in the middle east. How come American media does not write aobut this?
 
 
+6 # Citizen Mike 2015-10-24 07:35
The UN is a joke, its resolutions carry no weight and its various councils and committees are empty of any moral authority or enforcement powers. The general Assembly is a mock parliament. "International Law" is an empty promise composed of wishful thinking. The whole "human rights" concept is about political privileges and civil liberties that are peculiar only to the western nations and alien to the rest of the world. And the Security Council is a US puppet. Let's get real.
 
 
-13 # pagrad 2015-10-24 07:38
ISIS and Saudi Arabia are a great benefit to humanity by helping to keep overpopulation from exploding.

When has Israel beheaded anybody?
 
 
+6 # tedrey 2015-10-24 08:09
ISIS and Saudis prefer beheading; the Nazis used gas chambers or a bullet to the brain; the US has used hanging, firing squads, the electric chair, gas chamber, and lethal injection. Israel resorts to mass bombing.

Does this clarify matters?
 
 
+11 # wrknight 2015-10-24 08:59
Here's one way we can help. Write and/or call your senators to oppose Senate bill S.1372 which will lift the ban on U.S. crude oil exports. Last year we imported nearly 50% of our oil, much of it from Saudi Arabia. With the recent increase in domestic oil production through fracking, U.S. oil producers now want to export our oil to get better prices.

Given our own need for oil, domestic crude oil should be used strictly for our own use and should be used to reduce our oil imports. Exporting our crude oil means higher profits for the oil industry (both exporters and importers) and continued reliance on Saudi oil for our own use.

Support the ban on exporting U.S. crude oil. Use our own oil to cut back on crude oil imports from Saudi Arabia. The House has already passed a bill (H.R. 156) to lift the ban, it's now up to the Senate and the President. Call and/or write your Senators to oppose S.1372 and write to the President to veto the bill should the Senate not listen to our demands.
 
 
+4 # marind 2015-10-25 10:47
Like putting a pimp in charge of a convent.
 
 
+3 # dfnslblty 2015-10-25 17:16
No country would/could receive such a chair without usa armtwisting; ?how do you spell: respectable oil?
Thank your president for this election.
 
 
+6 # old codger 2015-10-25 19:43
Events are determined either by moral imperative, or pragmatic necessity. American foreign policy is always the latter, whilst very often, proclaiming the former.
That's why it's basically founded in hypocrisy!
Compare American foreign policy towards both Israel and Saudi Arabia. One the sworn enemy of the other, both morally repugnant yet but both under the umbra of American interests!
There s no such thing as a 'Good' country only weak and strong ones...as Hitler said, " mach macht recht : ...might makes right !
In America's case, Money macht recht !

Injustice will always prevail in the world as long as filthy lucre is king!
 
 
0 # ladymidath 2015-10-27 19:58
It sickens me to think that they are on the UN human rights council. This world is becoming a sicker and sicker place.
 

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