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.
According to 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 respiratory syndrome).
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.