According to a New York Times article from Feb. 28th, President Biden decided the cost of directly penalizing Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), is too high, despite a United States intelligence finding that he directly approved the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident and Washington Post columnist who was drugged and dismembered in October 2018. (You can find the pdf of the report here).
Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, poignantly commented,
“More than two years after the state-sanctioned murder of Jamal Khashoggi his family still have no information about the whereabouts of his remains while high-level officials continue to escape justice, and are free to continue their brutal crackdown on peaceful dissidents.”
Khashoggi’s murder is not the first human rights violation ever committed by the Saudi’s, by far. According to Amnesty International’s “Country Profile” for Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom has recently escalated the repression of the rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly. They have detained and prosecuted dozens of government critics and their families. And the authorities use the death penalty extensively, carrying out scores of executions for a range of crimes, including drug offences. According to a report by Amnesty International from 2019, Saudi Arabia’s courts even continue to engage in inhumane acts such as imposing sentences of flogging as punishment, sometimes for a thousand lashes or more. Even amputations and cross-amputations occur (where the opposite hand and foot are removed, e.g., right hand/left foot), which invariably constitute torture.
And this does not even begin to list the crimes against women that take place there. I’ve never seen such celebration in the “Free World” for something as basic as the right for a person to drive a car.
I list such horrid things today for one reason: I am pointing out how the United States government lectures the world on how Iranians commit human rights abuses while such terrible things go on in our closest ally in the region, MBS’s Saudi Arabia.
I am the last to admit that Iran is the land of freedom and democracy we claim to be here in the West. The special United Nations investigator of human rights in Iran presented a highly critical report in 2015 that describes a record rate of executions, a deeply flawed judiciary, and repression of journalists, dissidents, women and freedom of expression there. But that’s no evening news top story here in America. We have been force-fed that for decades.
Yet look what happens when Saudi Arabia under MBS commits such a heinous crime as murdering, dismembering and torturing a U.S. resident who merely criticized their regime. There is a tremendous double standard here.
And this most certainly has not just begun. According to this op-ed in the NYT from 2017, describing an address that Nikki Haley delivered to the U.N. about human rights abuses, revolves around the grossly pragmatic actions of the tiptoeing around dictators and tyrants Trump exercised during his disgraceful four years in power. And we all know these criticisms of Iran began the first days of the Iranian Revolution of 1979, when the Persian nation dared to defy world powers and take some amount of self-determination back from their colonizers. The installation of the Shah regime was the real crime there.
I know that there is a lot of criticism over the last five years or so of the Right’s “what-about-ism,” and I understand. I have seen Tucker Carlson on FOX News. But there is a thin line between “what-about-ism” and the pointing out of ridiculous levels of hypocrisy. The United States is in the latter, not the former on this one .