Tuesday, November 20, 2007

With Friends Like These

In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia is one of our staunchest allies. And President Bush and the entire Bush family have enjoyed close personal relationships with the Saudi royal family.

The problem with this is that the Saudis are the major exporters of Sunni terrorism. Fifteen of the nineteen hijackers on September 11th were Saudis. And the Saudi clerics have aggressively proselytized the rest of the Middle East with their puritanical anti-Western brand of Wahabbiism. In fact, the madrassas, the Muslim religious schools from which most of the young Islamic radicals spring, is funded and staffed by Saudi clerics and their supporters. I've long said that if you really want to fight Islamic terrorism, you have to go to its heart and soul, which is Saudi Arabia, not Iraq.

Anybody who tells you differently doesn't understand the Muslim world or Islamic religion.

Now comes a disturbing story that highlights how extreme and puritanical the religious faith of the Saudi Wabbiists is.

According to this CNN account, a 19 year old woman, who was raped by seven men was originally sentenced to 90 lashes of a whip for the crime of being with a man to whom she wasn't married. All Saudi women must be accompanied in public by a male relative, either a husband, father, or brother. Women must be chaperoned at all times in that country. They are not allowed to drive or to work outside the home without permission. In fact, they cannot even seek surgery or other medical care without male permission.

Because the woman appealed the sentence and talked to the media, the Qatif General Court increased her sentence. The men who raped her were originally sentenced to two to three years in prison. They also had their sentences increased to two to nine years. Why does something tell me they will probably serve the original two years anyway and only the woman will suffer the extra punishment?

In all the cases I've ever heard of blaming the victim, this one probably wins the award for the most gruesome.

But to add insult to injury, the woman's lawyer also has been disciplined. Abdulrahman al-Lahim, the attorney, has had his license revoked and is facing a three year suspension and disbarrment.

And what has been the official reaction of our country to this? According to CNN, there's this:
White House homeland security adviser Frances Townsend, who announced her resignation Monday, called the case "absolutely reprehensible" but told CNN's "American Morning" the Saudis deserve credit for their assistance in battling terrorism. "This case is separate and apart from that, and I just don't think there's any explaining it or justifying it," she added.

And here's a further administration reaction:
In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said U.S. officials had "expressed our astonishment" at the sentence, though not directly to Saudi officials. "It is within the power of the Saudi government to take a look at the verdict and change it," he added.

I think we'll be waiting for a long time for any justice. This, after all, is the same country where in the 1990s, Saudi religious police blocked the entrance to a burning school so that young girls could not escape a fire because the religious police were more worried that the girls would be seen without their head scarfs than that they would burn to death in the blaze.

Meanwhile, the case has sparked outrage among human rights groups, including within Saudi Arabia itself.
"This is not just about the Qatif girl, it's about every woman in Saudi Arabia," said Fawzeyah al-Oyouni, founding member of the newly formed Saudi Association for the Defense of Women's Rights.

"We're fearing for our lives and the lives of our sisters and our daughters and every Saudi woman out there. We're afraid of going out in the streets.

"Barring the lawyer from representing the victim in court is almost equivalent to the rape crime itself," she added.

Human Rights Watch said it has called on Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah "to immediately void the verdict and drop all charges against the rape victim and to order the court to end its harassment of her lawyer."

I hope I'm wrong, but I don't hold out much hope of any justice for this victim of rape. Nor am I optimistic about our war on terror. I've said it before, I'll say it again. We are in the wrong place, fighting the wrong war. We've managed to get ourselves smack in the middle of a civil war that didn't have to happen in Iraq while the real extremists are running around free, jacking up the price of oil and socializing with the Bushes.

As I said in the title, with friends like these, you don't need enemies. Unfortunately, we've made them anyway.


Anonymous said...

You know the US should mind their own business. There are problems here at home that needs to be taken care of. there are two men in prison and they were doing their job, but Mexico steps in and says the Mexican drug dealer should be rewarded and the two Border Pertrol men go to prison for doing their job. Where are you Bush...If I had my way again, I sure would not vote for you...You are selling the American people out. How many other things have you done behind our backs...

AnonymousIsAWoman said...

Quite a lot of things have been done behind our backs. Even Scott McClellan who was Bush's press secretary and a Bush loyalist,reports in his new book that he gave the press false information about the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame because he was mislead by Rove, Cheney, Libby and Bush.

If they would lie to one of their inner circle, why would they tell us the truth?