Amid mass beheadings, Wall Street scrambles for Saudi profits


IMAGE/Human Rights Watch

The hideous public beheadings of 37 men in a single day in Saudi Arabia last Tuesday have provoked scant protest from Western governments or the corporate media.

The same newspapers and broadcast networks that have summoned up their moral outrage over abuses, both manufactured and real, by governments in Russia, China, Iran, Syria and Venezuela are clearly unmoved by these criminal executions. They maintain their stony silence even though those who were decapitated with swords included three young men who were arrested as minors, tortured into signing confessions and convicted of “terrorism” for daring to join protests against the country’s monarchical dictatorship.

One of those beheaded was Abdulkarem al-Hawaj, arrested when he was just 16 by Saudi security forces for attending a protest in the country’s Eastern Province, home to most of Saudi Arabia’s Shia minority population. Beginning in 2011, the oil-rich province has seen protests over the systematic discrimination and oppression against Shias at the hands of a monarchy whose rule is bound up with the official state-sponsored religious doctrine of Wahhabism, an ultra-conservative Sunni sect.

Abdulkarem’s real “crime” was apparently the fact that he used social media to encourage participation in a demonstration. He was held in solitary confinement, beaten, tortured with electric cables and hung in chains by his wrists until he submitted to signing a false confession.

Also murdered in the barbaric execution spree was Mujtaba al-Sweikat, who was 17 when he was arrested at an airport as he was about to board a plane to the United States, where he was to become a student at Western Michigan University. His crime was also daring to demonstrate against the Saudi royal dictatorship.

His father, who represented him at his sham trial, accused the state of creating the “illusion” of a “terrorist cell” where none existed. “He was subjected to psychological and physical abuse which drained his strength,” Sweikat’s father told the court. “The interrogator dictated the confession to Sweikat and forced him to sign it so that the torture would stop. He signed it.”

As in all the other cases, the court ignored the evidence of torture and forced confessions and imposed the sentence of death by decapitation already dictated by the House of Saud.

The US government has said next to nothing about these atrocities. A State Department spokesman issued a boilerplate statement allowing that “We have seen these reports. We urge the government of Saudi Arabia, and all governments, to ensure trial guarantees, freedom from arbitrary and extrajudicial detention, transparency, rule of law, and freedom of religion and belief.”

During the same two days after the Saudi public beheadings, which included the crucifixion of one of the victims and the display of a severed head on a pike to intimidate anyone thinking of opposing the kingdom’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the US State Department managed to churn out statements condemning Russia for “gross human rights violations” in Chechnya; Venezuela for use of “intimidation and imprisonment” against the US-funded right-wing opposition; and Havana for acting to “suppress the human rights of the Cuban people.”

Washington’s patent indifference to the mass executions in Saudi Arabia exposes the cynicism and hypocrisy of all of US imperialism’s “human rights” pretensions and its feigned outrage over alleged crimes carried out by governments it views as strategic rivals or ones it is seeking to overthrow. The United States has long counted Saudi Arabia as a pillar of imperialist domination and reaction in the Middle East, and the Obama administration exhibited a similar reaction to the mass execution of 47 men in January 2016.

But just as blatant as the complicity of the US government with the crimes of the Saudi regime is the embrace of the bloody monarchical dictatorship by Wall Street and global finance capital.

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