Saudi Arabia. According to Countryaah official site, the Arab Spring meant no revolution in Saudi Arabia. But some regime-critical demonstrations were held, including around the city of al-Qatif in the country’s Shiite-dominated eastern part where four protesters were killed in November. The human rights organization Amnesty International strongly criticized the arrest of several hundred protesters. More and more convicted criminals were also executed.
A growing women’s movement made itself heard. In Riyadh, Jeddah and elsewhere, during the summer, women sat behind the wheel and drove a car, in protest of the fatwa prohibiting them from taking a driver’s license. Over the law, police saw between the fingers of the female drivers, but some were arrested and one was sentenced to whip punishment and then pardoned.
In the local elections held September 29, women were not allowed to participate. But King Abdullah promised that women from 2015 would have the right to vote and the right to run for office in the local elections, the only general elections that took place in the country, and that they could be appointed as members of the Majlis ash-shura Advisory Assembly.
Crown Prince Sultan died on October 22 after several years of cancer. The Crown Prince, who was also Minister of Defense and Aviation, was succeeded by his brother, the 78-year-old Interior Minister Prince Nayif, who was now also appointed Prime Minister. He was considered more conservative than the relatively reform-friendly King Abdullah, himself around 88 years old and sickly.
The Arab Spring put Saudi Arabia in a vulnerable foreign policy position. In August, they were called home to their ambassador from Syria, a more powerful mark against the regime’s brutality than from any other country in the region. At the same time, other dictators were protected. Yemen’s injured ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh was taken care of in Saudi Arabia, Tunisia’s deposed President Zayn al-Abidin Ben Ali went into exile there and neighboring Bahrain was supported by Saudi troops during Shiite protests. The latter operation brought bad blood to Iran, a conflict that was also expressed by the US saying it had unveiled an Iranian assassination plot aimed at Saudi Arabia’s US ambassador.
Saudi Arabia planned in December to execute 150 political prisoners and people arrested for drug possession or sale. Most of the judgments are handed down. the British human rights organization Reprieve in secret courts. 2016 thus marked another year of doubling in the number of executions. (Saudi Arabia set to execute 150 people for second year in a row, Guardian 18/12 2016).
That same month, British Defense Secretary Fallon admitted in the House of Commons that Saudi Arabia had used British-supplied cluster bombs in its war against Yemen. The production and use of cluster bombs is contrary to international law (violation of the 4th Geneva Convention), but this is ignored by the West and its allies. (Saudi Arabia admitted using UK cluster bombs, Fallon to tell MPs, Guardian 19/12 2016).
In May 2017, US President Trump embarked on his first state visit – or rather, a business trip. The target was Saudi Arabia and Israel. Two major customers for the superpower weapons industry. Previously, his businessmen had negotiated a deal in place on arms sales for $ 100 billion. US $ to Saudi Arabia. As a result of the sale, the agreement reached DKK 300 billion. US $ over a 10 year period. The extent of arms sales to Israel was kept secret. In addition to supporting the US arms industry, the prospect was to force Iran into a arms race, or at least secure US allies in the region superiority to Iran. A few weeks after the visit, Saudi Arabia and its satellite states went into diplomatic war with Qatar. The explanation to the West was “Qatar’s support for terrorism”. The explanation was interesting because the world’s biggest terrorist support was Saudi Arabia, supporting terrorism by supporting militant Islamist groups in Europe and actual terrorist organizations in the Middle East. Qatar does the same. It’s just other organizations. In Egypt, Saudi Arabia supported the extremist Salafist movement in 2011-12, while Qatar supported the more moderate Muslim Brotherhood. In Syria, Qatar al-Nusra supported the front linked to al-Qaeda, while Saudi Arabia supported IS. At the heart of the conflict was Saudi dissatisfaction with Qatar conducting its own high-profile foreign policy independently of Saudi Arabia. Over the course of a few weeks, however, diplomatic pressure concentrated on the demand for closure of the Qatars al-Jazeera. The TV station was far more popular than Saudi Arabia’s al-Arabiya, and thus a threat to Saudi Arabia’s eternal spread of Wahabism and the interpretation of regional and international politics. To put the kingdom under extra pressure, Saudi Arabia imposed trade and transport sanctions on Qatar. The country was banned from flying over Saudi Arabia and the satellite states participating in the blockade: Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. At the same time, Saudi Arabia ceased its export of food to Qatar, which was otherwise its main source of food. Turkeyinitially opposed the blockade and conducted military maneuvers with the small Gulf State instead. The US president immediately came to terms with Saudi Arabia and criticized Qatar for its “terrorist support”. It sent the superpowers diplomats into overtime, for one of its most important air bases in the region was in Qatar. Also several European countries – including United Kingdom – backed around Saudi Arabia. Kleptocracy was a lucrative market for the European arms industry. (US nears $ 100bn arms deal for Saudi Arabia in time for Trump’s visit, Guardian 13/5 2017; Gulf plunged into diplomatic crisis as countries cut ties with Qatar, Guardian 5/6 2017)