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Friday, January 26, 2018

Saudi Arabia and the Holocaust

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*

Thursday, January 11, 2018

On Shitholes and Shitty Little Countries

To Trump supporters, who are defending Trump's comments about "shithole" countries and the immigrants who come from them:
Remember the time when the French Ambassador called Israel a "shitty little country"?
Such comments from a public official are as unacceptable now as they were then.
And if you don't get why, don't be surprised or apoplectic when the US is called all sorts of degrading names by our adversaries.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Obama Stands with Ayatollahs

Trita Parsi & co. don't have much time left and don't have much to say; and neither does the regime, except mildly blaming it on the usuals. Things are looking increasingly worse for the regime.
Most importantly, however, how will the regime survive the public humiliation of knowing that people don't want the Islamic Republic, people don't want the ayatollahs, that despite all the spin and lies, Rouhani is a dictator and not a moderate, and that the West has been sold on pro-regime propaganda for years thanks to the Obama administration but now the world's eyes are finally open to the reality? Europe is quiet because of the deal. Obama and his apologists will never admit it, but they were actively supporting the dictatorship that the people actually did not want. They actively supported an international security threat so their crony companies could make money off the investments. The region is covered in blood and Israel is now at risk, and Iranian people have continued to be slaughtered with impunity, because Obama wanted his legacy and his cronies wanted their investments.

Obama stands with the ayatollahs.