There can be no doubt that Saudi Arabia has one of the worst governments n the world. It is a ruthless monarchy that ignores the basic human rights of its citizens, persecutes the LGBT community, treats women as second class and its immigrant low-level workers like chattel, and has a punitive and barbaric judicial system that dates back to the Dark Ages. It deserves to be treated as an international pariah.
However, it uses its dominant role in setting world oil prices and its willingness to act as an enforcer and supporter of US policies in the region to get protective cover from the US from receiving the widespread condemnation that it deserves. It also benefits from the fact that it is a major arms purchaser from the US and other western nations and this steady stream of revenue to weapons manufacturers has ensured that the governments of those nations run interference for the Saudi government and be deferential to it.
The Saudi government has been brutally bombing the nation of Yemen since March 2015, hitting all manner of civilian targets and hospitals and even a center for the blind, using US-made weapons. A majority of the estimated 10,000 deaths in Yemen can be attributed to the Saudi campaign, with the number of civilians recorded killed up to January of this year after over nine months of fighting being 2,795, with an additional 5,324 civilians wounded.
Another $1.1 billion arms shipment is in the works. Senator Rand Paul has been trying to stop it and as this interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer makes clear, it is US weapons manufacturers who are calling the shots. As Zaid Jilani says, “The Obama administration has sold more weapons to the Saudis than any other administration, pledging more than $115 billion worth of small arms, tanks, helicopters, missiles, and aircraft.”
Will the Nobel Peace Prize committee consider withdrawing its award to Obama? No one who excuses, supports, and even coddles such an atrocious regime deserves any award related to peace or humanitarianism.