Saudi Arabia Supports Democracy, As Long As It’s Not In Saudi Arabia

The Saudi official said people in Syria have the right to voice their opinion at the same time as Saudi Arabia convicted a journalist for posting “insulting” tweets.

Just because Riyadh wants people to use their right to vote in Syria doesn’t mean it wants Saudis to do the same.

Sounds like a lame argument reeking of hypocrisy, doesn’t it?

That’s what the Saudi ambassador to the United Nations told Al Jazeera journalist Mehdi Hasan while explaining why the Gulf country supports elections in Syria but not in the country he belongs to.

“Well, just because there are elections in Syria doesn’t mean there have to be elections somewhere else,” Abdallah al-Mouallimi stated. “Elections are not a panacea for everything.”

As if the premise of his case wasn’t ridiculous enough, al-Mouallimi made it even worse by continuing to speak.

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"I would like to claim that if you went to Saudi Arabia,” he told Hasan, “and if you conducted a survey in Saudi Arabia, in any way, official, formal, otherwise, you will find a high degree of support for the system of government in Saudi Arabia."

It was a clever claim, bearing in mind how everyone in Saudi Arabia would most definitely back their rulers since speaking out against them is a criminal offense. (Just last week, Saudi reporter Alaa Brinji was convicted by Saudi Arabia's counter-terrorism court for posting tweets in support of Saudi women's right to drive cars and human rights activists.)

When the reporter pointed out this fact, here’s what al-Mouallimi said: “No. I’m saying that if there was a way by which you can ask the common people in the street anonymously, privately, any way…”

“There is,” Hasan shot back. “It’s called voting.”

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Saudi Arabia, along with its Western allies fighting against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, has long supported a democratic transition in Syria. That's incredibly hypocritical, though, considering how there is no concept of democracy whatsoever in the oil-rich kingdom that practices hardcore feudal theocracy.

There is no concept of listening to what the common man has to say. The final word comes from the royal family or top religious clerics. Anyone who thinks, says or does differently is punished.

Saudi Arabia only holds municipal elections and there have been just three such events since the 1960s, including last year when women were permitted to vote or run as candidates for the first time since the country came into existence.

Even more disturbing is how comfortable top Saudi officials like al-Mouallimi are with their government’s duplicitous policies. 

Thumbnail/Banner Credits: REUTERS/Fahad Shadeed

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