Saudi Arabia Cracks Down on Human Rights Defenders
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), three Saudi web managers, whose sites covered the unrest in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, are still in detention. ”These three men are being held because they dared to collect and disseminate information that the government prefers to keep out of sight,” said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “Authorities must release them and restore access to the websites they were operating.” Additionally, rights activist Waleed Abu Alkhair said he was banned from traveling to the U.S. by Saudi authorities. “Public prosecutors have issued an order banning me from travel for security reasons, two days before I must head to Washington to take part [in a State Department organized forum],” Alkhair said. In other news, the International Olympic Committee said that it met with Saudi Olympic officials last week and was “confident that Saudi Arabia is working to include women athletes and officials at the Olympic Games in London.”
Reuters reported that “an opposition politician said Saudi Arabia now feared that the conflict in Syria, in which Shi’ite Iran and its ally Hezbollah back Bashar al-Assad‘s rule, could sharpen Bahrain’s sectarian divide – detracting attention from Syria and firing up Saudi Shi’ites.” A Western diplomat also said he believes it is in Saudi’s interest to push a political solution in Bahrain before the situation worsens. Kathleen Sullivan, an analyst at Ergo, writes in CNN about Saudi Arabia’s internal and external struggles. Sullivan argues that “The Kingdom must focus on the development of solutions to these critical challenges, and prioritize true social reform over transparent largesse,” otherwise, it may not be able to avoid the uprisings that other Arab nations have seen.