Saudi Arabia, an Autocracy Calling for Democracy

Saudi Arabia, an Autocracy Calling for Democracy

By Loubna Flah

Morocco World News

Casablanca, February 17, 2012

Unexpectedly, the Arab League abandoned its hibernation to play the role of mediator in one of the most complex and unpredictable twists of the Arab Spring series. The United Nations members entrusted the Arab League with the intricate task to negotiate both with the Syrian leadership and its opposition. Yet, the Arab mission has so far failed to dissuade President Bashar Al Assad from attacking his people who has carried on his massacres unabashed. The efforts undertaken by Arab diplomats revolved around democracy.

Ironically, most of the Arab countries condemning the Syrian regime crackdown are autocracies and totalitarian regimes themselves. It is perplexing for instance to hear Saudi leaders  singing the anthem of democracy.

the Arab League reaction to the first Arab uprising spark was rather dawdling. It failed to keep up with the novelty of the situation in Egypt. It remained in a state of denial and total paralysis towards the spiral of violence launched by authoritarian regimes in Bahrain and Yemen.

 Undoubtedly, the Arab League more than any another organization was taken by surprise. Repeatedly criticized for its reluctance to assume full responsibility in the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Arab League lost its glow long time ago. Some Gulf countries, in particular, were blamed for protecting the interest of western powers in the Middle East at the expense of the Palestinian cause, which has lived through another bloody crackdown during the military offensive against besieged Gaza.

The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that the Saudi security forces used, last Friday, unjustified force against peaceful protesters near the eastern town of Qatif, inflicting more causalities for the second day.  During the same day, Saudi Arabia’s king Abdullah denounced in an angry speech the UN Security Council’s inability to reach a binding resolution against the Syrian regime.  He solemnly declared, “The world is ruled by brains, by justice, by morals and by fairness.”

It is no longer a secret that the Gulf countries use a double standard in responding to the masses’ legitimate demands for real democracy. The stance adopted specifically Saudi Arabia in the international arena is tainted with humanistic values in an attempt to display a “façade” democracy, whereas Saudi rulers are trying to root out the bud of protests at the domestic level.

Saudi Arabia is not the only double talk champion. The US has been very selective in projecting its democratic ideals in the Arab world. While American diplomacy exhorts the Syrian president to step down, it turns a blind eye to several cases of human rights abuse in Saudi Arabia. The controversy stirred over a young Saudi columnist who has been accused of blasphemy and who may face a death sentence is a case in point.

The Americans would certainly not remain silent if the same orthodox reaction was undertaken by the Shiite clergy in Iran. The Washington Post reported that the United States Congress approved in December a $30 billion arms sale to the Saudi regime while it scourges Russia for supplying arms to Syria.

Seemingly, the American administration does not believe that democratization is a demand worth urging in Saudi Arabia. On the other hand, Saudi rulers under the American wing believe that they are totally immune to the Arab Spring domino effect.

Editing by Benjamin Villanti

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