Saudi Arabia. Little progress was noted on women's
rights. In January King Abdullah appointed 30 women as
members of the country's advisory parliament. The women
would work separate from the 120 male parliamentarians. In
August, the Council of Ministers criminalized the abuse of
women, children and employees in the country's households.
It was also decided that women should have the right to bike
and ride a motorcycle in parks, provided they have male
companionship. The fight for women's right to drive went on.
Countryaah, Saudi Arabia was criticized for its continued lack of
respect for human rights. Particularly vulnerable were the
country's approximately 9 million guest workers, many of
them paperless, from primarily Asia and East Africa. During
the fall, the authorities forced at least 60,000 paperless
to leave the country. Some were driven off by force and at
least five people were killed in riot gear. The driving
force behind the campaign was to create jobs for the
country's own citizens, but few Saudis wanted the low-paid
jobs that the guest workers left.
A large number of regime critics - Shiite activists,
Sunni Muslim jihadists and secular oppositions - were
sentenced to many years in prison. The human rights
organization Amnesty International was particularly critical
of the judgments against Muhammad al-Qahtani and Abdullah
al-Hamid who in March received eleven and ten years in
prison for, among other things. disobedience to the king.
Among those who were convicted of harshness were also
seemingly clueless young people, for example four young men
who in October got up to ten years in prison for dancing on
a car roof. The regime also continued to execute convicted
criminals publicly by beheading or arching.
During the year, King Abdullah's regime became
increasingly disappointed at his protector the United
States, which opened for a rapprochement with Saudi Arabia's
arch-enemy Iran (see Iran), and at the inability of the
world community to intervene against President Bashar
al-Assad in Syria. For such reasons, Saudi Arabia, on
October 18, declined a seat among the ten non-permanent
members of the UN Security Council.
In June, 34 Saudis were reported to have died in the
newly discovered coronavirus, nicknamed MERS (Middle East
The dictatorship announced in March that a large number
of women's case activists who have been arrested since 2016
will be tried. Several of them were involved in women's
rights to drive cars in 2016-18 and were arrested,
imprisoned, tortured and sexually harassed. Now they are
being tried. Western media likes to portray the dictatorship
as marked by "reforms," led by Crown Prince Mohammad bin
Salman, who was behind the assassination of journalist Jamal
Khashoggi. (Saudi Arabia: Detained Women's Rights Activists
to Put on Trial, Guardian 2/3 2019)
A UN investigation in June ruled that Crown Prince
Mohammd bin Salman should be investigated for the
assassination of Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018. After
accessing new material from the Turkish intelligence
service, the report found that senior figures in the Saudi
dictatorship were involved. The UN recommended that the FBI
be investigated for the execution. It was immediately
rejected by Trump, who did not want obstacles placed in the
way of the massive arms sales to the dictatorship. In July,
Journalists Without Borders (RSF) announced that Saudi
Arabia had dropped to 172nd place (out of 180) in terms of
freedom of the press in the world. There were then 30 Saudi
journalists imprisoned. The British newspaper Guardian wrote
that its journalists were hacked by the Saudi intelligence
service during their work in the country.
In June, the United States and Saudi Arabia attacked two
oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz and then blamed Iran.
The purpose was to breathe the war hysteria that will pave
the way for a Saudi, Israeli, North American war against the
Tehran clergy. Britain subsequently joined the war hysteria
and sent warships to the Strait of Hormuz. Saudi Arabia's
crown prince threatened Iran with war.