Saudi Arabia

Against the Saudi war in Yemen

Joe Biden has announced the end of US support for Saudi-led offensive military operations in Yemen, arguing in a foreign policy speech that they have “created a humanitarian and strategic catastrophe”. The details remain to be seen, but we should use this shift to exert pressure on the British government too. Intervention by the predominantly Arab military coalition headed by Saudi Arabia, directed against Iranian-backed Shia Islamist/nationalist Houthi militias, has resulted in many tens of thousand of fatalities, including over ten thousand civilians killed directly by coalition military...

The Perfect Candidate

I’ve been wanting to watch The Perfect Candidate ever since watching Wadjda, by the same director Haifaa al-Mansour, last year. For far too long, the former was not readily available online: it finally is now. Haifaa al-Mansour is Saudi Arabia’s first female filmmaker, and one of the countries most well-known and controversial. Both films are set in Saudi Arabia; both follow outspoken, confident female protagonists, living within and struggling against the misogynist society they find themselves within. Wadjda, the 2012 movie’s title character, is a ten-year-old rebellious girl who desperately...

The hijab and the Saudi factor

Sadia Hameed is a spokesperson for the Council of ex-Muslims in Britain, and a director of Gloucestershire Sisters, a women's organisation working in minority communities, particularly around tackling harmful traditional practices. She was interviewed by Sacha Ismail for Solidarity. See here for wider debate in Solidarity on the ban of the hijab in schools. We need to question the idea of multiculturalism. Diversity of culture is a great thing, but harmful ideas and practices need to be challenged and criticised. Multiculturalism should be about taking the wonderful parts of all cultures and...

Leonardo and the oligarchs

Cath Fletcher reviews 'The Last Leonardo' by Ben Lewis (William Collins, 2019) On 13 April 2019, The Times splashed on the headline “Fresh doubt over world’s most expensive painting”. Accompanied by a picture of the Salvator Mundi, controversially attributed to Leonardo da Vinci in a National Gallery exhibition of 2011, the newspaper reported on claims in Ben Lewis’s book The Last Leonardo that the attribution was now in doubt. The Salvator Mundi sold at auction for $450 million in November 2017 (a picture of Christ holding a crystal globe, its title means Saviour of the World). The buyer is...

Pitfalls of knee-jerk “blame Israel”

Morad Shirin (Solidarity 511) has casually speculated that Israel (or, perhaps, another regional power allied to the USA, but no other state is thought worthy of mention) is probably responsible for the attacks on the Norwegian and Japanese oil tankers. No evidence is offered, but rather a Galloway-style deduction based on which state would benefit from the most obvious suspect being punished. It isn’t often, thankfully, that this type of argument is promoted in the pages of Solidarity. “We have to ask: ‘Which state is going to benefit from delaying, or maybe even preventing, a deal?’ That...

Trump’s bluster, Assad’s strength

On 19 December, US president Donald Trump announced a snap decision to withdraw US troops from Syria. At first he said the troops would be out within 30 days, but now it looks like several months at least. The plan is now conditional on assurances from Turkey regarding the safety of the Kurds in Northern Syria. Trump’s move outraged the “common sense” of bourgeois foreign policy. US Defence Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis and Trump’s special envoy for anti-Daesh work, Brett McGurk, both resigned. Mattis was angered by Trump criticising American allies and other NATO members regarding their...

Khashoggi murder shows Saudi state under pressure

Saudi Arabia’s regime is a stain on the modern world. And the Saudi state’s decades-old campaign to export an extreme, fundamentalist version of political Islam, funded by vast amounts of oil money, is a world-wide political pollutant. All political and workers’ rights are severely restricted in Saudi Arabia. All public gatherings, including peaceful demonstrations, are prohibited under a 2011 order made by the Ministry of the Interior. The country’s significant Shiite minority, based in the oil-rich East, is seriously repressed. Women’s rights are restricted by segregation and a male-guardian...

Tories welcome “modernising” Saudi Prince

This month’s visit to the UK of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MbS), at the head of a large delegation of Saudi military and business leaders, marks a new low for the Tory government. It also indicates a major strategic economic priority for the Tory government, as Emily Thornberry put it, “to plug the hole that will be left in Britain’s trade and growth prospects … after Brexit”. The frequent appearances of Tory Trade Secretary and arch-Brexite, Liam Fox in defending deals with Saudi Arabia was not coincidental. Thornberry might have added that the Tories in their deals with Saudi were...

Yemen: end this war!

Saudi Arabia's war on Yemen, which began in 2015 in an effort to prop up the regime of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi against internal rebellion, is a disaster for Yemen's people. The Saudis put together a coalition of Gulf States, and with US and UK support began a brutal, pulverising war on Yemen. There have been over 13,000 victims of Saudi bombing, but many more have died as a consequence of the coalition's strategy. Hospitals, schools, factories and basic infrastructure have also been destroyed, and there is a major humanitarian crisis in the country. The Saudi have damaged the airport...

Hariri resignation stokes up regional tension

The bizarre resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Saudi state media has opened up another battleground between Iran and Saudi Arabia for regional dominance. Hariri said his life was in danger, pointed the finger at Iran and by extension the Shia sectarian Hezbollah, one of his government’s coalition partners. Hezbollah is backed by Iran and a vital component of the Assad regime’s campaign to crush the Syrian opposition. Iran has now drafted in Hezbollah to help arm and train Houthi rebels in Yemen. Hariri presided over a national unity government. His own party, the Sunni...

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