Mohammad bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, has just landed in Washington, D.C. for a three-day visit in the U.S. Capitol and a two-week visit to the United States.
IDC offers 6 Recommendations for Policy Makers and leaders meeting with the Crown Prince, often touted as a reformer, to improve human rights in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, and advance the U.S.-Saudi relationship.
1. End the war in Yemen and help create an inclusive government. Just days ago, the UN has reported that there are a “record 22.2 million people [requiring] humanitarian assistance or protection, 2 million remained displaced, 1.1 million were suspected to have cholera and famine was a real threat.” The U.S. has been providing military assistance to Saudi Arabia in this man-made humanitarian crisis.
2. Respect Basic Human Rights of Religious Minorities. Between 1.5-2.3 million migrant workers who are Christian live in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government raids private religious gatherings, as public ones are illegal, with following arrests or deportation of participants.
3. Support a Strong and Sovereign Lebanon. In December 2017, Saudi Arabia tried to force Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri to resign in order to reassert its authority over the country. In 2016, Saudi Arabia cut its $3 billion in military aid to the Lebanese army.
4. Support Communities Recovering from the Islamic State. Many communities in Iraq and Syria lay in ruins and their native populations, including many religious minorities, have yet to return home. By helping rebuild these areas, Saudi Arabia can build upon its relationship with Iraq, create trust between religions and help prevent extremist groups from taking advantage of vulnerable populations.
5. Be a Force for Good in the Fight Against Religious Extremism. Saudi Arabia has supported Syrian extremist groups and spent billions of dollars in spreading Wahhabism, an extremist and intolerant interpretation of Islam, throughout the world. Reports indicate a lack of willingness to clamp down on wealthy individuals from the Gulf who have funded extremist groups, with many taking bags of with millions of dollars in them to Turkey and handing them over. Saudi Arabia should immediately cease its relationship with extremist groups and should enforce tough laws against citizens who fund terrorist groups.
6. Free Saudi dissident Raif Badawi, a writer, activist, and creator of the website Free Saudi Liberals. Badawi was arrested in 2012 on a charge of "insulting Islam through electronic channels" and brought to court on several charges, including apostasy. He has been sentenced was increased to 10 years in prison, 1000 lashes, and a fine. Raif's wife, who had to took refuge in Canada after her life was threatened in Saudi Arabia, is worried about her husband's life.
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