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The Post-American Middle East
Weak US Policy Makes Life Harder for Middle East Liberals

The case of a Saudi liberal blogger’s horrific sentence highlights the deteriorating conditions of human rights in Saudi Arabia. The Times reports:

Saudi Arabia’s supreme court has upheld a sentence of 1,000 lashes and ten years in prison for the liberal blogger Raif Badawi despite worldwide outrage and formal protests from foreign governments.

Ensaf Haidar, Mr Badawi’s wife, who was granted asylum in Canada, said she was “shocked” by the decision, which is final under Saudi law. “I was optimistic that the advent of Ramadan and the arrival of a new king would bring a pardon for the prisoners of conscience, including my husband,” she said.

Now she expects the flogging to resume as soon as Friday, despite warnings that Mr Badawi, 31, who is in poor health, may not survive. […]

Amnesty International, which has led the charge over Mr Badawi’s case, said that the supreme court’s decision was “a further stain on Saudi Arabia’s already bleak human rights record”. Philip Luther, the charity’s Middle East and North Africa director, said: “It is abhorrent that this cruel and unjust sentence has been upheld. […]

Far from halting cruel punishments, however, the new monarch seems to be doubling down. The number of executions in Saudi Arabia this year has already surpassed last year’s total of 90.

It’s important to recognize how regional geopolitics and anti-liberal domestic policies are related here. Not just in Saudi Arabia but in countries like Egypt as well, it’s the instability in the region that is persuading governments to crack down hard on dissent. The lack of confidence in the strength of the U.S. alliance means that the rulers of these countries see no alternative to harsh methods. They are battening the hatches down against the storms blowing through the region—living, as it were, in a post-American world.

The myth that the Middle East would be a nicer place without an overarching American stability guarantee is being exposed as wishful thinking. In the old days, a more confident Saudi establishment would have found a way to set this case aside; if all else failed, quiet intervention from a U.S. president the Saudis respected would most likely have resulted in some kind of clemency. But as it is, the U.S. and Western opinion don’t have much consequence in the Kingdom these days. That’s a stroke of bad luck not only for Mr. Badawi, but for many other people whose lives are caught up in this gathering storm.

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  • Boritz

    Let me be the first to say:

    — This has been going on through multiple administrations.
    — TAI is just picking on the current administration.
    — What do you realistically expect Obama to do?
    — When a Republican gets in office do you really believe he will do anything to fix it?
    — That about covers it. Move along. Nothing to see here.

  • JR

    But I thought Dan Greene read the minds of TAI and told us that because of Saudi-Israeli detente TAI will never write anything critical about Saudi Arabia. I mean, I’m adrift at sea here people. If Dan Greene’s mind reading is not real, how the hell am I supposed to know what is REALLY going on? Ya know, peer behind the curtain to see the REAL strategic calculations? Man, this is a bummer…
    Islam is illiberal and can only be reformed by Muslim thinkers and intellectuals. To blame Obama, Bush, etc etc etc is to just play partisan football…

  • Pete

    Who the hell cares?

    We should be concerned about the crime & murder epidemic in our cities and our porous borders than in what happens to some gadfly halfway around the globe.

  • Dan Greene

    >>”The myth that the Middle East would be a nicer place without an overarching American stability guarantee is being exposed as wishful thinking.”

    Ludicrous article, and this strawman argument is especially specious. Virtually no one is actually making that argument. But, given the chaos that our invasion of Iraq has unleashed over the last 12 years and the state disintegration that our support for the insurgencies in Libya and Syria has contributed to the ongoing regional catastrophe, it does appear that our “stability guarantee” has come to look more like an “instability guarantee.”

    It appears that our poor, hapless JR had a bit of comprehension difficulty with the article. Perhaps he didn’t get beyond the first sentence. Let me help him by summarizing the content of this fatuous piece: If only Obama would get serious about overthrowing the Syrian and Iranian governments, the Saudis wouldn’t be in a state of panic and would stop imprisoning and lashing bloggers.

    There we go–is that sufficiently clear for everybody?

    The article expands on this notion by making this laughable claim: “The lack of confidence in the strength of the U.S. alliance means that the rulers of these countries see no alternative to harsh methods. They are battening the hatches down against the storms blowing through the region—living, as it were, in a post-American world.”

    See, it’s not really the Saudis’ fault that they are administering this guy 1000 lashes. It’s ours! Well, not ours–President Obama’s. I mean, when you’re scared stiff of Iran, and you’ve been abandoned by Uncle Sam, what can you do but use “harsh methods?”

    This dross is quite obviously meant to be exculpatory of Saudi Arabia, not condemnatory. That should be obvious to anyone who gives it a glance (outside of, well, you-know-who.)

    And with regard to the contention that in “the good old days,” US presidents would ring up the king and get the sentence reduced, I’d like to see some instances of that cited. I’m doubtful.

    Finally, it’s useful to contrast TAI’s exculpation of Abdullah/Salman with its treatment of Erdogan in Turkey. Does TAI ever make the excuse for Erdogan that, hey, he feels insecure, so cut him some slack regardless of his behavior? Nope. With him, it’s all about his “authoritarianism,” even though he is at least an elected leader. Now what difference comes to mind when we compare these two? Oh, that’s right: the Saudis are now in a de facto alliance with Israel, and Erdogan has been mean to Israel. And anyway, what’s 1000 lashes between friends, especially when it’s Obama’s fault anyway! Thus, we see TAI remaining true to form in every respect.

    Hope this clarifies the matter for our slower readers.

    • JR

      So the article that doesn’t mention Obama, Syria or Iran is about Obama, Syria and Iran? Wow, glad to see your mind reading is back in force. So in fact, everything that is written is about how great Iran is. Awesome! But I got to say, no mention of homosexual souls? Come on, you can mention it at least once.

      • Dan Greene

        >>”So the article that doesn’t mention Obama, Syria or Iran is about Obama, Syria and Iran?”

        Yes, that’s correct. Glad to see that with a little remedial training, you were able to figure that out for yourself.

        And by “homosexual souls,” I assume you are referring to the use of that term by the new Israeli Deputy Defense Minister to denigrate non-Jews, since it was he who used the phrase to assert the inherent superiority of Jews to non-Jews. As you may know, he underlined his Judeosupremacism by saying that EVEN homosexual Jews were superior to non-Jews. Is that what you are talking about? And if so, do you not agree with me that Americans should support the BDS movement as a response to being used as “hewers of wood and drawers of water” for the Judenreich?

        • JR

          And yet you wrote as a summary of the article: “Let me help him by summarizing the content of this fatuous piece: If only Obama would get serious about overthrowing the Syrian and Iranian governments, the Saudis wouldn’t be in a state of panic and would stop imprisoning and lashing bloggers.”
          So, your claim to summarize something was wrong. And when I pointed that out, you are acting as if you didn’t write the paragraph above. Man, it must be great to just make things up as you go along.

          As for homosexual souls, I just find it hilarious that you think that matters to anyone but yourself. This is I do just for my amusement. Too bad about Edrogan, eh?

          • Dan Greene

            Your first paragraph is a meaningless jumble of words. What are you actually trying to say?

            >>”As for homosexual souls, I just find it hilarious that you think that matters to anyone but yourself.”

            It obviously matters to you, since you are the one who brought it up.

            >> “Too bad about Edrogan, eh?”

            Nope. Too bad FOR Erdogan perhaps. Turkish democracy seems to be working moderately well. Will be interesting to see if the election results have any implications for Turkish support for the overthrow of the Syrian government.

          • JR

            I’m sorry, I underestimated the depth of your delusion. So when I actually re-read what you wrote, I realized that you were taking PRIDE in making things up. I have no response to that. You are delusional, and you are proud of that. That’s cool. I actually think the article is about ice cream and price of coffee in Patagonia.
            It’s not desperation. It’s just that I’m used to dealing with people who are not as delusional as you are. So dealing with you is a bit difficult. I admit that sometimes I have no idea what you are saying.
            As for homosexual souls, you are like a monkey I throw a banana to so it will perform a trick. Is it nice of me to do it? No. But it’s funny.

          • Dan Greene

            It’s definitely desperation–and deep dishonesty.

            And again, it was you who brought up the Israeli’s Deputy Defense Minister’s rancid rant about non-Jews. Why are you whining about it now?

          • JR

            I don’t know what it is in your universe, I don’t live there. I just thought I would point out that you claim the article is about something it never mentions. I didn’t realize you were actually seriously arguing that point. Honestly, I just forgot to allow for Dan Greene’s delusions. I’m sorry about that. Like I said, I deal with people who don’t claim the gift of mind reading and clairvoyance. My loss, I guess.
            And I like it when you mention homosexual souls. Do it again? Who said what? Is there a link you can post? Good monkeys get bananas. 🙂

          • Dan Greene

            Well, editing a comment after the fact is one thing, but don’t you think it’s a bit dishonest to replace your comment with new content and pretend that you never did so? There’s that desperation again, JR.

            I’m glad I quoted from this comment (see below) before you made the wholesale changes.

          • JR

            I was just making fun of you making things up. I keep on thinking that when you make things up you are AWARE of the fact that you are making things up. The fact that you aren’t is, admittedly, takes some getting used to.

          • Dan Greene

            Well, now I see how deeply embarrassed you are to be caught in such pathetic petty-dishonesty. It must be terribly humiliating for you. I mean, is there any connivance to which you won’t stoop?

          • JR

            I am embarrassed that I thought you weren’t delusional. How is this article about Syria, and Iran? Please tell us.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    Please, seeing America as the root of middle-east instability is ridiculous. When has the middle-east ever been stable? Not in the lifetime of anyone now living, that’s for sure. While I will agree that American foreign policy is weak and aimless without any kind of strategy. This is because Obama is the worst President in American History and wouldn’t know a strategy if it jumped up and bit him.

  • Dan Greene

    For those who want a laugh, go down to the exchange between JR and me. Poor, serially dishonest JR got caught with his hand in the cookie jar, trying to replace the whole content of a comment that he obviously regretted having made without acknowledging having done any of it.

    As I asked below, is there no cheap scheming or petty dishonesty to which JR will not to turn his hand?

    Frankly, it’s just embarrassing.

    • JR

      I fully admit that I forgot for a moment how delusional Dan Greene is. I am embarrassed at the fact that I didn’t account for him actually being serious that the article that doesn’t mention Obama, Syria, or Iran is ABOUT Obama, Syria and Iran. Yes it is true. I’m sorry everyone. How can I forget about Dan Greene’s pathological self-hatred of Jews warping his reality? How dare I question his ability to read minds? I have no answers and no excuses.
      In my defense, like I said below, I’m not used to dealing with people who exist exclusively in universes of their own creation. I throw myself at the mercy of the court. I pledge to never again forget that Dan Greene has his own special separate universe. I will also admit, with shame, that I like provoking Dan Greene and try to make him go on unhinged anti-Semitic rants. It is not nice to make fun of people who are delusional, but what can I say, I’m a human, and therefore am a vessel of sin. But before you judge me too harshly, let him who thinks Assad was completely innocent of gassing his own civilians cast the first stone.

      • Dan Greene

        Gee, JR, I don’t think this “admission” is quite honest either, as it attempts to shift the blame away from YOUR Orwellian conniving, which is the actual issue.

        The court finds you guilty of intellectual dishonesty in the first degree.

        You should get a job in the Ministry of Truth. You are clearly well versed in the procedures for getting rid of inconvenient information down the memory hole.

        The judge will now retire to consider sentencing.

        I only have one other thing to say about this: Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah!!!

        • JR

          I fully accept the blame for forgetting that you are delusional. I fully accept the blame for forgetting how your pathological hatred of Jews makes you see Jewish Lobby and Jewish influence everywhere. I fully accept the blame for forgetting that you can read minds. I fully accept the blame for laughing at your pathetic attempts to act as if your made up universe is actually real. Also, I fully accept the blame for editing my comment. How dare I forget that Dan Greene is the only one who judges what I am allowed and not allowed to post? Who do I think I am? Shame on me.
          But tell us, oh the Enlightened One, how is this article about Syria? Just our of curiosity.

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