On the subject of Saudi Arabia: I have NOT been a big fan of the vast human rights violations that took place inside the country, nor their past policy of funding Wahhabist around the world, anti-Israel rhetoric, positions inside the UN, and much else. Nor of vast hypocrisy of forcing women into the guardianship system and burqas while going to strip clubs in Europe and the US. Nor of the horrendous treatment of their servants. I can go on and on, but you get the picture.
You can see where I stand on human rights in Saudi Arabia from the cover of my wall. My foray into human rights advocacy has started in Saudi Arabia, with Raif Badawi's situation. You can be assured, that I have no plan of backing away from that position until such time as Raif, his brother-in-law Walid Abulkhair, and other such prisoners of conscience are set free, and conditions inside the country are such that innocent people are no longer persecuted for their views. I hope that the Saudi government acts quickly to shift from decades of terrible policies on all level.
That said, it should be obvious to anyone with a bit of common sense, that real social changes do not happen overnight even when the government aggressively moves in the right direction - and particularly when the government is still struggling to finds its place. I am glad, however, that they have started moving away from funding Wahhabist education, moving towards modernizing religion (whatever the heck it ends up meaning in the end, but 100% freedom of conscience is at the center of true religious practice), and that they are trying to act positively in other ways, such as a statement on Holocaust. It may be imperfect, and did not specifically mention Jews, but it was a start, and no one forced them to say anything. You think Israel would stop its cooperation with Saudi Arabia if they hadn't issued that statement? Do you think the US government would stop selling them arms if they hadn't done that? To me, the fact that they are taking steps no one had asked them to take is evidence of good faith.
And when someone who can be swayed towards positive or negative, chooses, thanks to good counsel to act constructively, despite bad habits, decades of bad policies, and natural suspicion from the international community, the right thing to do, in my opinion, is to acknowledge that they are doing the right thing, offer support in the face of internal frictions that may be pushing in the other direction, and politely encourage them to continue in that right direction and take future next steps that will be even better. Bashing them, calling them evil, and saying that their leader is a corrupt loser who will never get anything right just because he was born Saudi and the country's been bad, will not accomplish anything positive, in my estimation. That doesn't mean letting them off the hook if they start backsliding or offering excuses for truly unacceptable things, or end up lying and backstabbing us. But it does mean consistently praising good actions and building a relationship, in the course of which the advisers pushing for a movement in better direction are more likely to prevail.
But what do I know about these things? *shrugs*