Saudi Defense Minister Visits Washington Amid Human Rights Violations

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Mohammad Bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s most powerful prince and, at 30, the world’s youngest defense minister, is in Washington for talks with President Obama, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Secretary of State John Kerry.

As Saudi Arabia pushes for a more militarily and economically aggressive foreign policy, Radio Sputnik’s Loud and Clear speaks with Massoud Shadjareh, founder of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, about what America has to gain from meeting with Bin Salman and the international implications of the ongoing relationship.

​  "For a long time, Saudi Arabia seemed like a proxy of Washington, it seemed like it was in a defensive crouch, but not now," said host Brian Becker. Becker asked Shadjareh, "Why is he in Washington? What’s new in the relationship?"

"Unfortunately I think Saudi Arabia has become sort of a rogue state that’s committing all sorts of mischief both in the region and beyond," Shadjareh responded. "We see its activities in Yemen where it’s very clearly committing war crimes against innocent civilians, targeting hospitals, bombing the poorest nation in the region. And they’re being supported by the United States and the West." 

A fighter from the Jaish al-Islam (Islam Army), the foremost rebel group in Damascus province guards a position on the front line in Jobar, on the eastern edge of the Syrian capital - Sputnik International
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Shadjareh pointed out Saudi Arabia’s support for groups like Daesh and Al Nusra, and the country’s 30,000 political prisoners, stating that, "In reality, Saudi Arabia has become sort of one of the worst abusers of human rights, both against its own people and people beyond its borders."

Becker highlighted comments made by the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in a speech in Cleveland on Monday, in which she said, "it is long past time for the Saudis, the Qataris and the Kuwaitis and others to stop their citizens from funding extremist organizations. And they should stop supporting radical schools and mosques around the world that have set too many young people on a path towards extremism." Shadjareh noted that these acts to support global terror were happening during her husband’s presidency as well, but no similar reproach of Saudi Arabia was made at the time.

"What needs to be said is that it’s the Saudi government itself is supporting this extremism," Shadjareh said, adding, "Unfortunately people think that Daesh and ISIS are an element of Islam against the West on non Muslims, but the reality is that Daesh is actually killing more Muslims in Iraq and Syria than anything else."

Noting that Bin Salman’s visit with top US officials comes despite condemnation from Washington and a rescinded blacklisting from the UN, Becker reasoned, "The elites must see something in that relationship that trumps any human rights concerns," asking, "What is it about the nature of the US or EU relationship with Saudi Arabia? What is it that makes it so important?  What do (the US and Europe) get from it?" 

Houthi militant stands guard outside the house of court judge Yahya Rubaid after a Saudi-led air strike destroyed it, killing him, his wife and five other family members, in Yemen's capital Sanaa January 25, 2016. - Sputnik International
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"I think that what’s really happening is that a number of people are personally benefiting from the money that the Saudis are spreading in Washington and London and New York," Shadjareh said, adding that he doesn’t believe the Saudi claims that they are furnishing the US with intelligence on terrorist organizations.

"They are creating corruption, not just in their own country but across the world, and I believe what we are seeing, is not a benefit of any nation, it’s not a benefit to ordinary people… it actually only benefits a few through corruption."

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