Saudi Arabia is holding women in prison while the rest of the world is oblivious to this.

WOMEN IN PRISON | Nourah bint Saeed al-Qahtani was recently given a 45-year jail term in Saudi Arabia for airing her opinions online. This occurs only a few weeks after Salma al-Shehab, a student at Leeds University, was given a 34-year prison term for using Twitter to repeat the opinions of activists who were critical of the government.

women in prison

There have been a few minor indications that Saudi Arabia was giving its women a little more freedom in recent years, but recent severe jail terms for women have generated more discussion about the nation’s violations of human rights.

Despite these incidents, Mohammed bin Salman, the nation’s de facto ruler, received an invitation to Queen Elizabeth II’s burial; nevertheless, a government minister ultimately attended in his stead. Hatice Cengiz, the fiancĂ©e of the assassinated writer Jamal Khashoggi, criticized the invitation and its suggestion that the UK and the rest of the world were ignoring Saudi Arabia’s abuses. In 2018, Khashoggi was assassinated inside the nation’s Istanbul consulate.

The current conflict in Ukraine is one reason why the west is less likely to criticize Saudi Arabia.

The Russian invasion has caused gasoline price rises, disruptions in the supply of natural gas, inflation, and other problems that have left the west suffering. Some countries in mainland Europe, especially Germany, have just recently realised how heavily they are dependent on Russian gas.

The national economies and people of the UK and the US have been significantly impacted by the globalised markets and economic interdependence, despite the fact that they are less dependent on Russia than their allies in continental Europe. Saudi Arabia is one of the nations that can contribute to bridging the energy vacuum created by Russian oil.

The governments of the UK and US have been working to mend relations and ensure Saudi Arabia’s sustained support and collaboration through carefully scheduled trips. Former UK prime minister Boris Johnson travelled to Saudi Arabia just a few weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine to talk about oil and energy security.

Although the US may be more energy independent than other western nations, the Russian war in Ukraine is nonetheless having an impact on its energy costs due to inflation and the global recession.

Midway through July, US President Joe Biden accompanied Johnson to Saudi Arabia to continue discussions on energy security and eventually to stabilize international markets. Biden highlighted Saudi Arabia’s strategic significance in a Washington Post piece, saying that “its energy resources are crucial for reducing the impact of Russia’s war in Ukraine on global supply.”

Compared to Donald Trump, Biden has been more critical of the Saudi government. Biden has thus not been welcomed all that well in Saudi Arabia. However, his resolve to allow Saudi Arabia to contribute to the recovery from the world crisis provides Saudi Arabia more influence.

Johnson travelled to Saudi Arabia at the same time the country executed 81 people. However, the prime minister’s office simply made a vow to bring up the murders with the Saudis rather than outright denouncing them.

Saudi Arabia believes that the west no longer has the courage to criticise it harshly because of the country’s increasing relative prominence.

Taking the big picture

However, the arrest of these two women just serves to further the regime’s long-standing persecution of women, while the west continues to turn a blind eye.

The Trump administration sidestepped the subject and avoided criticizing Saudi Arabia’s record on human rights. Trump included a stop in Saudi Arabia on his first international trip, reinforcing US policy that maintains a tight relationship with Saudi Arabia. Although it continued to have a solid working relationship with the Saudis, the Obama administration was more critical and expressed some worries about human rights.

The UK, another important global player, has largely followed the same course as the US. It collaborates with Saudi Arabia on many different fronts, including politics, the military, trade, and even the sale of armaments that Saudi Arabia has used to indiscriminately strike people in Yemen.

Some contend that the west has long tolerated Saudi Arabia’s breaches of human rights.

For many years, Saudi Arabia’s record on human rights has been among the worst in the whole world. Human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia are documented by groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International every year. Many fundamental human rights, such as the right to free expression and the right to a fair trial, are restricted or denied under Saudi Arabian legislation.

While there have recently been some nominal improvements, such as allowing women to drive, they are actually merely deceptive gestures. Women still hold a lower social status.

Saudi women are still unable to pass on their citizenship to their offspring, get married, or access healthcare without the consent of their male guardians. Women have been under guardianship for decades, and the world has accepted this.

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