The US empire’s alliance with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia continues to imperil any semblance of credibility the US tries to claim on the issue of human rights. On Saturday, January 2, Saudi Arabia executed 47 people, including non-violent pro-reform and pro-democracy protesters.
Three days prior to the executions, the Pentagon announced a series of multi-million dollar weapons contracts US companies had completed with Saudi Arabia that were approved by the Department of Defense. The beneficiaries of the large contracts are Boeing, Advanced Electronics and Raytheon.
One of those executed last Saturday was prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr whose execution for leading a pro-reform demonstration during the so-called Arab Spring set off a wave of protests throughout the Middle East. The outrage was especially intense in Iran where the Saudi Arabian embassy was attacked by enraged Iranians and set on fire. Saudi Arabia responded to the embassy attack by banishing Iranian diplomats from the kingdom and suspending trade with Iran.
Nimr al-Nimr and other peaceful protesters’ execution was condemned by human rights organizations, some of whom had already slammed the prosecution of al-Nimr as “part of a campaign by the authorities in Saudi Arabia to crush all dissent, including those defending the rights of the Kingdom’s Shi’a Muslim community.”
A State Department cable published by Wikileaks shows that, in a meeting with US officials, Nimr claimed he opposed terrorism and said he saw similarities between the beliefs of Shia Muslims and American ideals. Saudi Arabia has presented no evidence that shows Nimir used or approved of violence to oppose the Saudi government’s repressive policies.
— Paul Gottinger (@PaulGottinger) January 4, 2016
The US government was largely silent after Saturday’s executions and made no public condemnation, which follows a general trend of ignoring Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuses. Saudi Arabia beheaded more people than ISIS in 2015, with 157 overall executions. Many of the non-political executions were for non-violent drug offenses.
US claims about supporting freedom and democracy in the region look positively absurd once you combine the political executions with the kingdom’s repressive treatment of women and minorities, Saudi Arabia’s ongoing war crimes in Yemen using US weapons, and the kingdom’s support for Islamic terrorist groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda,
The question now is how long can the US-Saudi alliance last before it collapses under the weight of its own rhetorical and substantive contradictions.