Saudi Regime Intends No Meaningful Social Reforms: US Analyst
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A senior political analyst from the US State of Illinois lashed out at the Saudi regime for its “horrendous human rights abuses” and said Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s social reforms are nothing but an illusion of positive change.
“Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s most ruthless countries, notorious for horrendous human rights abuses, complicit with Washington in supporting ISIS and other terrorist groups in Syria,” Chicago-based Stephen Lendman said in an interview with the Tasnim News Agency.
“Crown prince bin Salman (MBS) intends no meaningful social reforms, just the illusion of positive change, nothing more,” he added.
Stephen Lendman is a writer, syndicated columnist, activist, News TV personality, and radio show host. He currently writes for MoneyNewsNow.com and VeteransToday.com and hosts, since 2007, a progressive radio show at The Progressive Radio News Hour on The Progressive Radio Network.
The following is the full text of the interview:
Tasnim: Recently, the Saudi regime led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has announced dramatic social reforms. The oil-rich kingdom, which has some of the world’s tightest restrictions on women, has long barred women from sports arenas. The kingdom’s General Sports Authority announced in October that stadiums in Jeddah, Dammam, and Riyadh will be set up to accommodate families from early 2018. The announcement is in line with bin Salman’s ambitious reforms shaking up the kingdom, including the historic decision to allow women to drive from next June. What is your assessment of the dramatic changes in the Saudi regime’s domestic policy? What objectives is the kingdom pursuing by such social reforms? Do not you think that the increasing protests in the Arab country have led to them?
Lendman: As we know, Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s most ruthless countries, notorious for horrendous human rights abuses, complicit with Washington in supporting ISIS and other terrorist groups in Syria. Crown prince bin Salman (MBS) intends no meaningful social reforms, just the illusion of positive change, nothing more. The kingdom’s tyrannical rule under his father, himself and others reflect cruel and inhumane treatment of anyone wanting meaningful change, opposing their ruthless rule. Letting women drive and other gestures fail to address fundamental issues. The kingdom is deeply corrupted and ruthless, far too debauched to fix.
Tasnim: Do not you think that one of the objectives behind the reforms is to silence the voices of dissent and the human rights defenders? In your opinion, are these reforms only a show by bin Salman to ingratiate himself with the US as his staunch ally?
Lendman: MBS’ objective is deception, regime policies continuing unchanged, including the shaking down of numerous princes for billions of dollars to provide the kingdom with more money for Yemeni aggression, support for terrorist groups, and repressing its own population. He will silence no one once it is apparent nothing in the kingdom is changing. Washington under Republican and undemocratic Dem administrations does not give a hoot how oppressively the Saudis treat their citizens and residents. Keeping their oil flowing and supporting America’s imperial agenda is all US officials care about.
Tasnim: The reforms are in apparent contradiction with systematic genocide of Shiites and violations of human rights in the Shiite-populated city of Awamiyah. Saudi military bulldozers have recently almost razed the besieged town to the ground amid the deadly crackdown there, forcing hundreds of its residents to flee their homes. Do not you think that the Wahhabi ideology is behind this genocide?
Lendman: Indeed stated reforms contradict reality on the ground. Saudi officials are like the US and other Western ones - promising one thing, doing entirely different things, continuing dirty business as usual, including forever wars of aggression and cracking down hard on homeland nonbelievers. I wrote a little about Awamiyah last summer, not current on what is going on now. I know the Saudis attacked the town with heavy weapons, defenseless Shia civilians targeted, brutalized and displaced from their homes. Prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr came from the area, executed by Riyadh two years ago to silence him.