03 July 2015

Executing Justice: WikiLeaks Unmasks Saudi Arabia

TeleSUR TV English

Two decades ago, a Palestinian relative of a friend of mine attended an execution in a public square in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. As it turned out, the executed man was not the only casualty of the day; my friend’s relative, already in poor health, suffered a fatal heart attack upon witnessing the event. Most members of the international community are of course spared the potentially adverse side effects of contact with Saudi reality, for a variety of reasons.

For starters, the kingdom’s oil-fueled status as U.S. ally extraordinaire means that the general absence of human rights in the country is less of a superpower obsession than it would be were the Saudis to declare themselves, say, a Bolivarian republic. As the New York Times’ Thomas Friedman put it in 2007: “Of course, we must protect the Saudis”—which was four years after he confessed that, “[f]rankly, I have a soft spot for the de facto Saudi ruler, Crown Prince Abdullah, who is a man of decency and moderation.” 

The June publication by WikiLeaks of a deluge of cables from the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs meanwhile also helps to explain the subdued global reaction to a country that behaves quite similarly to the Islamic State group. The accompanying press release begins by noting that, as of June, the Kingdom had already carried out 100 beheadings this year: “The story was nowhere to be seen on Arab media despite the story's circulation on wire services. Even international media was relatively mute about this milestone compared to what it might have been if it had concerned a different country. How does a story like this go unnoticed?” 

Short answer: money. Why bother cleaning up your act when you can simply clean up your image by disbursing gargantuan sums to international media outlets and other opinion-shaping entities? READ MORE AT TeleSUR TV ENGLISH.