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About CDHR

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Mission Declaration:

The Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia (CDHR) is a (501)(c)3 non-profit educational organization established in 2004 to promote institutionalized democratic reforms through restructuring of all Saudi state institutions to accommodate growing and irrepressible public awareness of their rights and to meet global demands as necessitated by globalization of goods, languages, values and information. Due to its centrality to Islam and as a major exporter of petroleum, as well as the state’s austere religious doctrine, Saudi Arabia plays major roles in Muslims’ and non-Muslims’ lives worldwide; consequently, its policies and practices are of major concern to its people and to the international community.

What We Do:

CDHR gathers information from a wide range of sources about current events in Saudi Arabia and analyzes and interprets their impact on Saudi society, the Greater Middle East and the international community. These unique findings are disseminated to policy makers, the public, media, educational institutions and a variety of nongovernmental organizations. The distribution of CDHR’s information is widely dispersed via our newsletter, website, Blog, Facebook and Twitter accounts. In addition, CDHR’s staff organize educational conferences, Congressional briefings and participate in a multitude of public and official events. CDHR promotes: freedom of worship and expression, transparency, accountability, empowerment of women, protection of migrant workers, establishment of and adherence to non-sectarian laws and compliance with all international declarations on human rights. CDHR rallies support for Saudi democratic reformers, highlights their initiatives and exposes the Saudi government’s heavy-handed responses to them.

CDHR Promotes:

Political Reform: Transformation of Saudi political structure from its current autocratic one-family-rule to a participatory political structure where all citizens’ and expatriates’ civil liberties and full rights are protected under the rule of codified non-sectarian laws, and where citizens have the right to participate in their government and society.

Freedom of the Press and Flow of Uncensored Information: Elimination of all forms of censorship, free expression and the uncensored flow of information into and out of the country.

Religious Freedom: Freedom of worship regardless of beliefs and orientations.

Women’s Rights: Removal of the male guardian system; institutionalizing women’s right to drive, work and travel; full employment; eradication of child and forced marriage systems; forbidding honor killings, genital mutilation, pleasure marriage (mit’ah) and de-legalization of the four wives system and gender segregation.

Minority Rights: Full and equal rights for Muslim and non-Muslim religious minorities.

Economic Reform: Privatization of government industries, public utilities and creation of a share-holder public financial industry with no governmental intervention or monopoly directly or indirectly.

A Non-sectarian Judicial System: An independent court system staffed by highly qualified jurists who interpret and apply publicly approved non-sectarian laws under which the rights and dignity of all citizens and expatriates are equally protected under the rule of codified law.

Transparency and Accountability: Creation of an independent national treasury where all national revenues and disbursements are accounted for and open to public scrutiny.

Reformed Education and Religious Institutions: The management of all educational and religious institutions should be turned over to non-governmental bodies. As required by the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights Dec. 10, 1948, courses about women, human rights and other religions must be part of all educational levels in Saudi Arabia.

CDHR's Activities:

1) Provides thought provoking and accurate information and analysis of Saudi events and policies via its widely read website and 5,000 strong newsletter recipients worldwide. CDHR’s director analyzes current Saudi news and policies for the benefit of the readers who would otherwise take the highly censored Saudi news for face value. 2) Operates a Blog, Twitter and Facebook accounts to spread information and engage readers in open discussions about issues that affect them, but which they cannot initiate from or discuss openly in Saudi Arabia.

3) Organizes in-depth public and official conferences and round table discussions in which qualified speakers present current different prospective and analysis about Saudi policies, US-Saudi relations and the Saudi role in the financing and spread of its austere brand of Islam, Wahhabism.

4) Monitors and conducts research on human rights, women’s and minority rights, rights of expatriates, religious tolerance and freedom of worship and expression.

5) Networks with other groups, think tanks and Congressional staffers in Washington, to provide them with current information about Saudi Arabia as it relates to the US and its interests.

6) Networks with pro-democracy and human rights groups in the US, Europe and individuals in the Arab and Muslim communities.

7) Provides presentations at conferences and other events, utilizing the knowledge of the Executive Director as a native of Saudi Arabia and an expert intimately familiar with its history, composition, and peoples.


Subscribe to Our Newsletters:

CDHR sends out regular newsletters twice a month to our readers with analysis of events in Saudi Arabia, upcoming CDHR events, and reports on the progress of our ongoing campaigns. Subscribe Now!

Executive Director:

Dr. Ali Alyami

Phone: 202–413–0084
E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Ali Alyami is a native of Saudi Arabia. He has lived in the United States for many years and has been an avid advocate for political reforms in Saudi Arabia most of his life. He holds a Ph.D. in Government from the Claremont Graduate University in Southern California, and a Master’s Degree from California State University in Los Angeles. Ph. D. doctoral theses: The Impact of Modernization on the Stability of the Saudi Monarchy. He has worked for and with different groups and organizations, including the Arab Organization for Human Rights based in Cairo, Egypt, the Saudi Institute in Washington, DC, and the American Friends Service Committee in San Francisco, among others. Dr. Alyami provided expert testimony regarding human rights in Saudi Arabia before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus. He also organized and participated in many conferences and discussions about Saudi Arabia, its policies and their impact on the Saudi people, the Middle East, and the international community. Alyami has spoken at conferences in the United States, London, Egypt, Sudan, and Israel.

Board of Directors:


Edward Rawson
Mr. Rawson has been a staunch supporter of the Washington-based Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia (CDHR), its mission, projects and staff, from the very outset. CDHR is only one of the many worthy organizations Mr. Rawson supports and leads. He is an avid supporter of human rights and individual liberty at home and abroad. Mr. Rawson joined the Department of State as Director for the Yugoslavia Relief Program in 1949. He was a program operations officer for Korea and the Philippines with the International Cooperation Administration (ICA), the predecessor to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). In 1958, Mr. Rawson returned to Washington D.C. as Special Assistant to the deputy of Administration of the ICA, and served as the liaison officer between the U.S. government and Project Hope. He became administrative coordinator for USAID’s program until his retirement in 1976. Mr. Rawson was the recipient of several awards for his outstanding commitment to public service, including the Superior Honor Award from USAID, and the Community Human Rights Award from the United Nations Association of the National Capital area. In addition to CDHR, Mr. Rawson is currently on the boards of several organizations.

Board Members:

Clare M. Lopez, Director
Ms. Lopez is a strategic policy and intelligence expert with a focus on Middle East, national defense, WMD, and counterterrorism issues. Specific areas of expertise include Islam and Iran. Lopez began her career as an operations officer with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), serving domestically and abroad for 20 years in a variety of assignments, and acquiring extensive expertise in counterintelligence, counternarcotics, and counterproliferation issues with a career regional focus on the former Soviet Union, Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans. She has served in or visited over two dozen nations worldwide, and speaks several languages, including Spanish, Bulgarian, French, German, and Russian, and currently is studying Farsi.

Now a private consultant, Lopez also serves as Vice President of the non-profit forum, The Intelligence Summit, and is a Professor at the Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies (CI Centre), where she teaches courses on the Iranian Intelligence Services, and the expanding influence of Jihad and Sharia in Europe and the U.S. She is affiliated on a consultant basis with DoD contractors that provide clandestine operations training to military intelligence personnel. Lopez was Executive Director of the Iran Policy Committee, a Washington, DC think tank, from 2005–2006. She has served as a Senior Scientific Researcher at the Battelle Memorial Institute; a Senior Intelligence Analyst, Subject Matter Expert, and Program Manager at HawkEye Systems, LLC.; and previously produced Technical Threat Assessments for U.S. Embassies at the Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, where she worked as a Senior Intelligence Analyst for Chugach Systems Integration.

Lopez received a B.A. in Communications and French from Notre Dame College of Ohio (NDC) and an M.A. in International Relations from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. She completed Marine Corps Officer Candidate School (OCS) in Quantico, Virginia before declining a commission in order to join the CIA. Lopez is a member of the Board of Directors for the Institute of World Affairs and also serves on the Advisory Board for the Intelligence Analysis and Research program and as an occasional guest lecturer at her undergraduate alma mater, NDC. She has been a Visiting Researcher at Georgetown University and a guest lecturer on terrorism, national defense, international relations, and Iran there, at the FBI Academy in Quantico, VA, and the National Defense Intelligence College in Washington, D.C. Lopez is a regular contributor to print and broadcast media on subjects related to Iran, Islam, counterterrorism, and the Middle East and is the co-author of two published books on Iran.

Jack Pearce, Director
Mr. Pearce worked at USAID and served as Assistant Chief of the United States Justice Department Antitrust Division. He also held the position of Deputy General Counsel of the White House Office of Consumer Affairs. In private law practice, he helped found and coordinate coalitions of commercial transportation buyers, consumer groups, economists, and environmental groups supporting the successful reform of transportation regulation in the United States. He and his partners also served clients in the computer, agriculture, and electricity segments of the economy, in activities consistent with U.S. antitrust policies. Mr. Pearce founded and is President of O.S.I. Management, Inc., servicing attorneys and others in Washington, DC, and has served on the boards of several civic organizations.

Mark Palmer, Director
Ambassador Palmer is a world known advocate of freedom of speech, individual liberties and the rights of people to determine their destiny. He is the only American diplomat who participated in demonstrations against the Soviet tanks when they were crashing freedom fighters in Eastern Europe. During the Cold War years, Ambassador Palmer was a respected foreign policy innovator both inside and outside the U.S. government. He served in policy positions in the State Department under the Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, and first Bush Administrations. He helped abolish the US policy that exempted Arab regimes from promoting democracy in the Arab world. Ambassador Palmer is a successful businessman and the author of: Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World’s Last Dictators by 2025. He has lived in the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, and served as the U.S. Ambassador to Hungary.

Abdul Aziz Alkhamis, Director
Mr. Alkhamis was born, raised and educated in the Nejd (central) region of Saudi Arabia. He worked as a journalist for many years and was later promoted to become the editor of the largest Saudi Magazine, Majlet Almajalah. He has written and published many articles about social and human rights issues in Saudi Arabia. Mr. Alkhamis is the founder and director of the Saudi Center for Human Rights in London.

Wayne Quist, Director
Colonel Quist has advanced degrees from the University of Southern California and The National War College in Washington, DC, specializing in the Middle East. While serving in Washington, DC, he worked in The Pentagon, later directed the Air Force AWACS program, and led the first deployment of AWACS into Saudi Arabia in 1980 following the Iranian revolution. After retiring from the Air Force as a full colonel (O-6), he headed a Fortune 500 company’s Europe and Middle East operations from Brussels, Belgium. Colonel Quist is the author of several publications and articles in the field of radical, militant Islamism, national security policy, and American history, and coauthored Winning the War on Terror: A Triumph of American Values with Dr. David Drake in 2005 and The Triumph of Democracy Over Militant Islamism in 2006. Colonel Quist has been featured as a popular speaker on the ideology of al Qaeda and has also lectured at a Nobel Peace Prize Forum.

Dr. Robert Mikhail, Director
Dr. Mikhail was born and raised in Egypt, immigrated to the United States in 1976. Dr. Mikhail is a strong believer in American exceptionality and the visions and values of the framers of our constitution. He is a leading human rights activist and co-founder of several Coptic Organizations. Over the past 35 years- he co-founded the American Coptic Association, National American Coptic Assembly, American Coptic Union and Coptic Leadership Council. As Director of the Coptic Leadership Council, Robert focuses his efforts on creating and developing a new generation of young Coptic leaders on the grass root level of congregations across the United States. Dr. Mikhail's web-based articles analyze the impact of America's post World War II foreign policy on the Coptic people. Dr. Mikhail is a leading Coptic expert on the Arab-Israeli conflict and the first to declare a Coptic position on the issue. Dr. Mikhail is a Clinical Pharmacist. He holds a BSc degree in Chemistry from the University of Alexandria, Egypt, a BS Degree in Pharmacy from Long Island University, and Doctorate degree in Clinical Pharmacy from University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Before establishing his own pharmaceutical consulting firm, Rxsynergy Inc., Dr. Mikhail worked for some of the most prestigious medical institutions in the nation- University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and Merck Pharmaceuticals.

Please donate online or by mail

The Center for Democracy & Human Rights in Saudi Arabia is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization registered in Washington, DC. Your donation is tax deductible and will help CDHR continue its democratic, nonviolent activities. Donate easily online to CDHR using PayPal or send a donation by mail to:

The Center for Democracy & Human Rights in Saudi Arabia
1050 17th Street NW
Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20036 USA


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