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The Saudi ‘Reformer’ Who Uses Torture

Many of the detainees seized during Mohammed bin Salman’s purge last year were subjected to physical abuse [1], and one later died from his injuries:

During months of captivity, many were subject to coercion and physical abuse, witnesses said. In the early days of the crackdown, at least 17 detainees were hospitalized for physical abuse and one later died in custody with a neck that appeared twisted, a badly swollen body and other signs of abuse, according to a person who saw the body.

Mohammed bin Salman’s power grab [2] and subsequent shakedown of detainees were always aimed at consolidating power [3] and extracting money by force. That seemed clear enough at the time [4], and this report just confirms it. The “anti-corruption” spin was always a pretext for doing these things and never a very convincing one, and it is a measure of how easily seduced by Mohammed bin Salman’s promise of “reform” they are that so many Western observers accepted his explanation at face value. Obviously, torturing people into handing assets over to the state is a crude abuse of power that has nothing to do with fighting corruption. Abusing detainees into signing over their wealth is consistent with Mohammed bin Salman’s heavy-handed crackdown on internal dissent and his prosecution of an atrocious war that is creating one of the worst famines of modern times. If foreign investors were nervous about the prospects of doing business in the new Saudi Arabia before now, this story should make them extremely wary. When the crown prince comes to the U.S. later this month, his hosts should force him to address the many abuses committed by his government. With any luck, he will find that many of his would-be investors don’t want to do business in a country ruled by such a reckless and incompetent man.

Before the U.S. wades any deeper into the muck with Mohammed bin Salman, there is an opportunity to extricate the U.S. from the disastrous war on Yemen that our government has been helping the Saudis and their allies wage for the last three years. The resolution introduced by Sens. Sanders, Lee, and Murphy, S.J.Res 54, can put an end to U.S. involvement in the war, but only if it passes. Voting to end U.S. involvement in the Saudi-led war on Yemen would be a fitting rebuke to the crown prince in response to the appalling war crimes committed by coalition forces in Yemen. An end to U.S. support would make it much more difficult for the coalition to keep their war going, and that creates an opening for a cease-fire and a more enduring peace settlement. Yemen desperately needs peace, and our government needs to respect the Constitution. Passing S.J.Res. 54 offers an opportunity to reject illegal involvement in a foreign war and cuts off the support that the Saudi-led coalition needs to continue waging their war.

5 Comments (Open | Close)

5 Comments To "The Saudi ‘Reformer’ Who Uses Torture"

#1 Comment By b. On March 12, 2018 @ 1:00 pm

We need to look forward, not back – we cannot possibly accuse other nations of employing torture, it is unbecoming, divisive, and partisan.

#2 Comment By Fazal Majid On March 12, 2018 @ 2:21 pm

The al-Saud have always used payouts to buy consent for their continued rule, but low oil prices and runaway deficits that threaten to eat up the country’s sovereign wealth fund make this unsustainable. King Salman actually reinstated bonuses for civil servants that had been cut by his predecessor King Abdullah, in an effort to ease his accession.

When you add the fiasco of the war in Yemen, which reportedly costs Saudi Arabia $5 to $6B per month, finances are in dire enough state that it turns to desperate measures like selling the Aramco family silver at the worst possible time due to low oil prices, and hold up princes for ransom.

#3 Comment By HenionJD On March 12, 2018 @ 5:26 pm

But so long as he is opposed to Iran, everything is good….nothing to see here folks.

#4 Comment By Emptier Quarter On March 13, 2018 @ 3:52 am

Mideast Autocrat + Nice To Israel + Torturer + Social Liberalizer Approved By The NYT = Shah

Shah + Crimes Against Humanity = MBS

#5 Comment By Maryland Diner On March 13, 2018 @ 12:14 pm

Well, Trump’s promoting a lady torturer to run the CIA, he’s already expressed strong support for torturers like Duerte and Sisi, so approving the Torture Prince of KSA isn’t that big a leap.

Can’t be too long before he starts thinking about torturing us. Literally, I mean. Will he put torturers in charge of the FBI, like he just did at CIA?