Is Raif Badawi dead?

Raif Badawi is the Saudi blogger, atheist, and critic of the Saudi theocracy who was jailed and lashed, and who is currently in a horrible Saudi prison. He has been in communication with his family, though, with daily phone calls, until recently — Badawi has suddenly gone silent.

Jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, currently serving a 10 year prison sentence for criticizing the Saudi Arabian regime online, has not been heard from in more than a month, leaving his family fearful for his well-being, and unsure if he is still alive.

The last time Badawi’s family heard from him was on Jan. 14, his family’s spokesperson Elham Manea tells TIME. Since then, his daily phone calls from prison have suddenly and inexplicably stopped. Last week, prison authorities told Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, that he does not want to speak with her, Manea says.

People are fearing the worst.

This will not change our relationship to an unabashedly evil regime, although it should. The US has too many powerful people who profit off the oil, and no small number of ordinary citizens who are fine with torturing and murdering atheists and people who dare to criticize the government.


  1. says

    Not just a few powerful people. The entire USA benefits from middle eastern oil. The currency floats on it. If the Saudis started selling oil to China for Yuan, the USD would crater, and all your imports would see a severe price hike.

  2. Rich Woods says

    @Ian King, @Crip Dyke:

    One of the reasons behind Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal was that Iran had started to sell oil to the EU in euros, not dollars.

  3. Artor says

    Those assassination teams with their bone saws need practice somewhere. This is probably the last anyone will hear of Raif.

  4. rrutis1 says

    @Ian King
    I have heard of petro-dollars, is that the same as what you are referring to? I also do not understand economics well enough, I’ll be looking this up later…

  5. says

    Oil is priced in $/barrel and it’s even denominated so. For example, a tanker load of Iranian crude is worth about $12-24 million (not including the ship) – someone wire transfers someone the millions and they’re dollars. Currency conversion is usually a surcharge, so adding a percentage point to a number like that is a large amount, but more importantly, some bank in London isn’t going to clear a transaction of a bazillion zorkmids from some developing nation: they take dollars and anyone with zorkmids gets a different price.

    So, it matters if there is a European bank that is willing to do big oil transactions in Euros that is a big deal and Washington has shitfits because it has no way of enforcing sanctions. The whole enforcement regime is bypassed (more precisely, EU now controls it, if it’s Euros). The US has been throwing its weight around so hard that this was inevitable.

    Another problem the US has is that China is effectively creating currency denominated in Yuan by granting loans to other nations, denominated in Yuan and controlled by Chinese banks. The control part is really important; that’s what central banks are for. Basically, the US has stupided itself out of its central role in the oil economy, which, for all intents and purposes is the world economy. This is not a Trump failure – it goes back to Clinton and Bush.

  6. Dunc says

    Also, anybody wanting to buy oil must first buy the requisite amount of US currency to do so, which keeps the value of the dollar artificially high.

  7. whheydt says

    Electronic components and devices are also denominated in dollars. Hence, the list price for various models of Raspberry Pi are always quoted in US dollars, despite being assembled in the UK, China, Brazil and Japan (the latter two for local consumption).

  8. says

    @#6, Marcus Ranum:

    It certainly goes back earlier than Bush — either Bush. The Reagan administration definitely was playing that game. I remember reading a pretty decent synopsis of how it all works, and the first presidential administration to consciously go in for petrodollars as policy was something like the Ford administration.

    And as for stupiding ourselves out of it: that’s a matter of opinion. Yes, the consequences for us if oil starts getting traded in something else are going to be dire. On the other hand, the oil economy is going to crash sooner or later because although we aren’t at the end of oil we’re nearing the end of easy-to-extract oil, and there are going to be severe penalties for being the currency in charge when it does — and the longer the dollar is the oil currency, the worse the shock will be when we stop. Obama and Trump “messing up” and “letting” China encroach on things may end up being lucky for us, because a slow takeover by way of having our mistakes taken advantage of might end up being a softer landing than we would get in any other way.

    (It’s also worth noting that China has a lot of investment in the US, and it is in their interest not to actually crash our currency, at least for the time being. Ask again in 4 years and the answer may be very different; unlike the US, which is under the control of people who profit from oil and which does its best to avoid public talk about the effects of oil on the currency, the Chinese government seems to actually understand that being the oil currency is a mixed blessing… on the other hand, the Chinese government is under internal pressures which most Americans aren’t even aware exist.)

  9. says

    The oil – currency connection is something I learned from Rob Newman’s ‘History of Oil’, which you can find on youtube. There’s a good chance it’s partially outdated now, and it’s not quite an academic source, but it explains so much that it has always surprised me how little it gets talked about. You will commonly hear that all US foreign policy in the 20th century is based on the control of oil, but rarely hear the reasons why.