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article imageSaudi Crown Prince escalates crackdown against dissidents

By Ken Hanly     Nov 27, 2019 in Politics
Saudi Arabia's crackdown on perceived dissent since Prince Mohammed bin Salman became Crown Prince has been on-again off-again but according to human rights groups the crackdown has been increasing over the past week.
Crackdown on dissent escalating
A recent New York Times article reports: "Saudi Arabia’s long-running drive to muzzle dissent has escalated again in recent weeks with the arrests of several journalists, writers and academics who had not vocally criticized the government in years, according to two rights groups that monitor the kingdom. At least eight people have been detained since Nov. 16, the rights groups said. "
Among the detainees are two dual Saudi-American citizens and two women. One is said to be pregnant according to the two human rights groups. Many of those held are suspected of having complained to Western journalists about their treatment of imprisoned women activists, according to a Saudi national who had been briefed on the case.
Saudis may be acting proactively to prevent protests
Iraq and Iran
have both seen major protests and outbursts of unease against their respective governments. Perhaps the Saudis are trying to prevent protests from happening in Saudi Arabia. However, the arrests could possibly have the opposite effect. Perhaps the Saudi government is planning some unpopular move or moves and is attempting to prevent any activists from organizing protests.
Saudis appear to pay no attention to international condemnation
Bin Salman has been under intense scrutiny since the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul Turkey. US intelligence agencies have concluded that the Crown Prince had ordered the killing. However, international condemnation of Saudi Arabia's human rights record has done nothing to stop the Crown Prince from cracking down on any who might criticize or protest against government actions. Some emphasize that in spite of his crackdowns bin-Salman has introduced some reforms in Saudi Arabia.
Many US lawmakers have expressed concern about the actions of the Crown Prince but he still has the support of President Trump and his administration. A recent article notes: "Representative Tom Malinowski, a New Jersey Democrat who recently introduced legislation to deny visas to those whom American intelligence agencies deem responsible for the Khashoggi killing, said the new arrests showed that Prince Mohammed “still feels he has nothing to fear from the Trump administration.”
He added that the prince “doesn’t understand how badly his recklessness is hurting what’s left of support for the U.S.-Saudi partnership in the Congress and among the American people.”"
Those arrested
in earlier crackdowns continue to be ill-treated in Saudi jails: "Detainees who were swept up in previous crackdowns continue to face solitary confinement and torture in some cases, according to ALQST. They include a group of women and men who had agitated for women to be allowed to drive before Prince Mohammed lifted the ban last year, some of whom have said in court that they were tortured and sexually harassed in prison."
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