Center for Democracy & Human Rights in Saudi Arabia Newsletter Message

From: "Center for Democracy & Human Rights in Saudi Arabia Newsletter" <newsletter@cdhr.info>
Subject: Center for Democracy & Human Rights in Saudi Arabia Newsletter Message
Date: October 10th 2011

Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, Washington DC

October 10, 2011

CDHR's Commentary on Current News and Developments
Saudi Response to Arab Uprising


King's Decree: Emancipation or Deception?

CDHR Analysis: Under domestic, regional and global pressures, the Saudi ruling family had little choice but to act, even if such action is seen as too little too late. Saudi women have been increasingly giving voice to their anger and frustration with being marginalized by an autocratic and theocratic government in a male-dominated society. In addition, a number of educated royal females (including two of King Abdullah's daughters, Adela and Sita and Basma Bint Saud, daughter of former King Saud) are becoming increasingly active in women's issues and speaking out against their family's discriminatory policies toward women. Adding to the rising domestic discontent, the sweeping Arab revolt against oppression, corruption and lack of economic opportunities is being felt inside the fortified Saudi royal palaces. These are some of the reasons that prompted King Abdullah to issue a royal decree on September 25, 2011, recognizing Saudi women's basic citizenship rights.

On the eve of municipal elections (Sept. 29, 2011) that had been arbitrarily postponed from April 2009, King Abdullah decreed that Saudi women will be allowed to participate in elections four years from now. The aging and ailing monarch also decreed that women will be allowed to join the powerless national Consultative Council whose members he appoints as he and his family see fit. This may also happen four years from now unless he changes his mind or is coerced by other family members into rescinding this proposed reform.

If the same process and conditions used in the 2005 elections are followed in elections this month and in the future, the outcome will be meaningless. Only half of the 285 municipal officials will be elected, while the other half are appointed by the government. Candidates will be intensely examined and those deemed independent or critical of government policies, like political blogger Fouad Al-Farahan, will be dropped from the list of candidates. Women may still be excluded, while anyone under the age of 21 and government employees, including military and security personnel, will not be allowed to run for office or to vote. Finally the elected municipal councils in 2005 were not given any legislative powers. They were told to collect complaints and submit them to government agencies, effectively co-opting them into becoming part of the existing dysfunctional system.

Given the Saudi monarchy's intense opposition to democracy, one cannot help but question whether the Saudi king's announcement is a genuine attempt at reform or just another maneuver to ease domestic and global pressure on the royal family for at least four more years. The king avoided any mention of some actions he could have taken immediately to eliminate the relegation of women to the margins of society. Allowing women to drive and abolishing the institutionalized equivalent of slavery, the male guardian system, would improve women's lot much more quickly than permitting them to vote in cosmetic municipal elections four years from now.

Customized and Misleading Elections

CDHR Analysis: Under tremendous pressure from the first Bush Administration, the Saudi ruling family concluded that it had to appease global critics and silence its increasingly restless population, especially women and youth. The Saudi regime decided to erect tightly controlled municipal elections in late 2004 and early 2005. Obsessed with fear of raising their disenfranchised population's hopes for concrete political reforms, the Saudi royals designed an elections' paradigm that would give the illusions of political reforms, but in reality designed to strengthen the absolute established order.

A well structured strategy not only for the 2005 municipal elections, but for future use when the regime decides to hold follow up elections. The ploy called for direct elections of half of the candidates who meet government's intense investigation and endorsement and the other half would be appointed by the government. Women and anyone under the age of 21 as well as all public employees, including military and security personnel, were not allowed to run for office or vote. The elected individuals' duties had to be assigned by the government which did not happen until some nine months after the elections. The elected officials were told to play observers role, collect complaints and submit them to the higher-ups, effectively co-opting them into becoming part of the existing dysfunctional government agencies.

The next elections were supposed to have been held four years later, in 2009, and according to officials in the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs' who is in charge of elections, women would be allowed to participate next time around. However, the king arbitrarily postponed the elections until 2011. No reason for the postponement was given and no one dare ask questions. On the September 25, 2011, four days before the second municipal elections were to be held, King Abdullah gave a speech where he decreed that women would be allowed to participate "in future elections" (the earliest might happen in 2015) and would be appointed to the powerless national Consultative Council according to the Shariah law and Muslim traditions. This means women would not be allowed to sit in the same room with men and may not have equal votes to that of men.

Given Saudi women's unabashed demands for their rights, it may not be that easy for this king or his successor to exclude them from the next elections and get away with it peacefully. Saudi women are gaining strength in number, determination and support among men and even members of the ruling family.
Read Article


Terrorism Remains Mortal Threat 10 Years After 9/11/2001

CDHR Analysis: As evidenced by heightened domestic and global warnings of potential terror attacks on the eve of the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001, there is more to terrorism than killing Al-Qaeda's founder/financier and its deadly senior architects, destroying their infrastructure, and disrupting their communication apparatus. Despite the fact that the US military's intense and expensive campaign has inflicted quantifiable damage on Al Qaeda's personnel, infrastructure and morale, the Jihadists and their supporters will continue to be lethal enemies unless they unequivocally understand that the price they must pay will exponentially outstrip any benefit they may realize.

As documented by a large number of Muslims and non-Muslims, the Saudi doctrine of Wahhabism is a major force behind Jihadists' activities throughout the world. Prominent Muslim scholars, politicians, thinkers, writers, analysts, and historians agree that the Saudi-Wahhabi ideology is dangerous to Muslims and non-Muslims. They are imploring the international community to unite and defeat the Wahhabi doctrine. In a public conference in Cairo, Egypt on April 26, 2010, Muslim scholars from the Al-Azhar University (Islam's oldest and most reputable academic institution) and other researchers and experts in Muslim movements issued a scornful communiqu� describing Wahhabism "as an idea and practice that is the primary threat to Islam, Muslims and the international community." In a powerful article in the Wall Street Journal in 2006, the revered former president of Indonesia (the most populated and tolerant Muslim state), Mr. Abdulrahman Wahid called on "Muslims and non-Muslims to unite and defeat Wahhabi ideology."

One of the strongest condemnations of the Saudi doctrine came from neighboring Kuwait. A well-known and highly respected Kuwaiti writer, Dr. Salem Humaid, wrote an article titled "The Saudi-Wahhabi Ideology" which he described as "the most wicked and ugly thought on the surface of the earth."

Closer to home, a former Saudi cleric extremist, Mansour Nogaidan, realized while in prison that the Wahhabi doctrine is the source of terrorism. He not only turned against what he was brainwashed into promoting, defending, and dying for, but actively sought to get rid of it. "The most recent government crackdown on terrorism suspects, in response to this month's {in 2003} car-bombing of a compound housing foreigners and Arabs in Riyadh, is missing the real target. The real problem is that Saudi Arabia is bogged down by deep-rooted Islamic extremism in most schools and mosques, which have become breeding grounds for terrorists. We cannot solve the terrorism problem as long as it is endemic to our educational and religious institutions."

These glaring warnings and repeated appeals from prominent Muslims to the international community to defeat the pervasive Saudi-Wahhabi doctrine are a clear call for decisive responses. However, the West, which is the target of the Islamist threats, has yet to accept that it's engaged in a war with an Islamist ideology dedicated to the destruction of Western Civilization. It's not the intent of this writer to advocate a war with Muslims, but to underscore this threat and to highlight the need for policies and actions on the part of Western democracies to insure the eradication of the major root cause of terrorism, the Saudi-Wahhabi ideology. Occasional drone strikes and diplomatic appeasement will only lead the terrorists, their financiers and beneficiaries to believe that the West is weak and vulnerable, thus encouraging them to escalate their terror attacks.

The most effective and direct tactic to confront the root cause of terrorism as advocated by prominent and knowledgeable people who have experienced and understand the nature and underpinnings of Wahhabism is to eradicate it at its source. This effort will not only require the autocratic and theocratic Saudi elites to re-interpret the Quran and the Shariah law to reflect modern values-globalization, technological advancement, women's rights, tolerance of other faiths, international declarations on human rights, freedom of choice and expressions-but must terminate the Saudi ideological influence worldwide. Saudi text books must be rewritten to reflect these contemporary interpretations and scientific advancement. In addition, Saudi religious, educational and judicial institutions must be transformed from the top down in order to stop the spread of the deadly Wahhabi ideology.

Some argue that King Abdullah has made changes to rein in extremist activities. King Abdullah has removed a few clerics and some inflammatory phrases from Saudi schools' text books, eliminated some terrorists in Saudi Arabia and convened interfaith dialogues. While these activities are considered reforms by some, especially in the West, others see them as deceptive window dressing to silence foreign and domestic critics of the debauched Saudi state- imposed doctrine, Wahhabism.

In reality, under King Abdullah's leadership, Islamist religious fervor has been heightened as a result of implicit and explicit Saudi accusations that the West is engaged in a war against Islam. He has strengthened the Saudi clerics by making it illegal to criticize them domestically and has united Muslim countries, including Iran and Turkey, through the Organization of Islamic Cooperation which consists of 57 states and is headquartered in Saudi Arabia. Spread of Wahhabism throughout the world has been exponentially intensified under King Abdullah more than under any of his predecessors.


The Saudization of Egyptian Revolution

CDHR Analysis: The Saudization of Egypt has begun with the intent of derailing democratic transition or preventing it from taking root for years to come. According to the article below (link in Arabic), 120 new Saudi companies have been established since the Egyptian Revolution on Jan. 25, 2011. They are investing in every sector of the Egyptian economy where many poverty-stricken Egyptians will be hired to make a living, which is understandable and can be appreciated. The major problem with this is, wherever Saudi money goes, Wahhabism follows and swallows.

The West could easily beat the Saudi and other Gulf States' investment in Egypt. Western governments and companies are in positions to introduce projects that could demonstrate to the Egyptians that democracy, free market and creativity are superior to landlord-dominated businesses under dehumanizing conditions. Investing in Egypt with the intent of introducing to the individual liberty to think and create freely is a commodity that money cannot buy. This is an opportunity that the West and other democratic governments and companies should not let fall into the hands of those whose objective is to ensure the continuity of oppression, corruption, intolerance, lack of respect for basic human rights, marginalization of women and hate for non-Muslims, including the more than 10 million Egyptian Christians.
Read Article


Saudi-Iranian Competing Autocracies

CDHR Analysis: Despite their public pronouncements and overt disputes, the Saudi and Iranian autocracies share the same objectives: to prevent democracy from taking root in their and other Arab and Muslim countries. Their overriding goal is to severely undermine Western democratic influence, especially that of the US, in Arab and Muslim countries. They consider democracy a mortal threat to their oppressive rule. The Saudi and Iranian regimes compete over the hearts and minds of oppressed Muslims, including their own, and use whatever they can to outdo each other by painting themselves as the protectors of Islam and Muslims worldwide.

The autocratic Saudi rulers accuse Iran of trying to annex the weak but wealthy Arab States around the Persian Gulf, of drawing the Iraqis to their side and of trying to overpower the Saudis' Sunni allies in Lebanon as well as in Gaza, Yemen and Afghanistan, among other places. The Iranian theocrats accuse the Saudi monarchs of being American agents and of collaborating with the US against the Palestinians and Muslim interests. On his way home after addressing the UN General Assembly in late September 2011, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited two Sunni Arab states, Mauritania and Sudan. Standing next to Sudan's President Hassan Al-Bashir, a well- known butcher of his countrymen, women and children, Ahmadinejad promised to stand firm against the US pressures and sanctions, a speech he repeats when visiting Arab and Muslim countries.

Al-Bashir declared, "We will work together to build a relationship based on cooperation and respect and mutual benefits, and we are looking forward to closer cooperation with Iran." In response, the Iran delegation declared that Iran is "ready to transfer its experience in the science and manufacturing sectors, especially technical and engineering services, to improve Sudan's infrastructure." Presently, Iran is spending $200 million on different projects in Sudan.

The Saudis see Iran's increasing influence among some Sunni Muslims as a threat to their dominance in the Greater Middle East. Petrified by the Arab Revolt's spell over and Iran's increasing influence in the region, the Saudis are forging alliances with other absolute Arab monarchs and strengthening their bilateral relations with Turkey and Pakistan, two nuclear Sunni Muslim states. These public maneuvers by the Saudi and Iranian despots do not reflect their true intentions and common objectives. They sit side by side at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, cooperate within OPEC and exchange high officials' visits, in addition to thriving trade, art and cultural exchanges.

Fully cognizant of their unpopularity at home and fearful of popular uprising, the Saudi and Iranian theocracies need as many external enemies to blame for their failures as they can garner. They need to blame each other to justify their draconian practices at home and to strengthen their legitimacy regionally as much as they need extremists and terrorists to extract favorable global recognition and support. Ahmadinejad's recent visit to Mauritania and Sudan (two Sunni Arab states) and Sudan President Hassan Al-Bashir's support for Iran's nuclear program are designed to show the Saudi royals that Iran can recruit Arab allies against the Saudi monarchy.

By design or by accident, the Saudi-Iranian feud is contaminating Arab and Muslim attitude toward Western democratic influence in Arab and Muslim countries and communities. Given Saudi and Iranian cooperation within major organizations such as OPEC and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and knowing the devious behavior and practices of these two most theocratic and autocratic regimes, this may not be accidental.
Read Article


Thankful Libyans Welcomed Their Non-Arab Liberators

CDHR's Analysis: Those who doubt the Arab people's yearning for liberation from the yoke of religious and political oppression should have watched the visit by two non-Arab heads of state to Tripoli, Libya on September 15, 2011. The president of France, Sarkozy, and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Cameron, were accorded a resounding liberating hero's welcome by jubilant Libyans. Amongst a roaring public, the two heads of non-Muslim states assured the Libyan people of continued support for their hard-won revolt against the former Arab tyrant, Gaddafi.

One can only imagine what kind of reception King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia or any of the other ruling dynasties of the Gulf States would receive if any of them risk visiting Bahrain now or in the near future.

The Libyan people's appreciation for Sarkozy and Cameron should have sent a clear and chilling message to the remaining Arab autocracies like the Saudi royals. Not only should Arab dictators be worried about their people's hunger for freedom, but the recipients of Arab regimes' largess in the West should rethink their allegiance to an irreversible fading era in the Arab world. Arab regimes' apologists in the West continue to insist that most Arabs and Muslims are content to be semi slaves to their religion, culture and their absolute rulers.
Read Article


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The Center for Democracy & Human Rights in Saudi Arabia (CDHR) is a non-profit 501(c) (3) organization based in Washington, DC. CDHR provides new and accurate information for the benefit of the public, the business community and policy makers about the current situation in Saudi Arabia. CDHR's goal is to help bring about a peaceful democratic transition from a single-family autocratic rule to a participatory political system where the rights of all Saudi citizens are protected under the rule of civil laws.

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