Occasional News and comments on the situation in Post-Saddam Iraq by an Iraqi-American living in Texas
From a few threads back:Lee: "The despots there [KSA] are the moderates and modernizers."Well, I should think that among the 19 million people in Saudi Arabia there must be some folks who are not either despot princes or wahhabi Al Qaeda fanatics.Lee: "Or, do you think you perhaps see a native, Saudi democracy movement that has somehow escaped my attention? And, what evidence do you have for that?"No, I see no such movement. But I don't think that's because the enttire populace is wahhabi fanatical (certainly not the 15% that are shiites at least). I think it's more that the state repression apparatus makes it very hard to launch such a movment. Still, there doesn't necessarily need to be a ready to go alternative if the goal is democracy, right? But very few are heard mentioning that Saudi Arabia should reform to democracy. And I say that if they did not have all that oil and still ruled their people the way they do (not possible, but for reasons sake let's say it was) there would be fierce critizism against them. So, yes, it all comes down to nobody wanting to fuck with them because of all that oil.Bruno: "Saudi Arabia is relatively free from the wave of democracy protests because the stupendous profits realised from the sale of oil are used to essentially pay off a relatively small populace. The standard of living there is pretty high."No. KSA is free of democracy protests because such protesters would find themselves in a cellar with nails driven in under their fingernails in and electrodes hooked up to their genitals in a heartbeat. 47% of the population of 18.5 million is under 18. Youth unemployment is at about 40% and the percentage of the population below the seal of poverty is also 40%. The Sauds do buy off opposition, but it buys off the "elites" and not the little people. Them they control through the vast security apparatus.
You're kidding? The unemployment rate is that high? I guess the electrodes will get my vote as the most likely candidate for social control, then. ...I wonder if there is some sort of state subsidy?
Not terribly informative, but it does help redeem my "state subsidy for peace" angle a little:Saudi Arabia is an economic welfare state with free medical care and unemployment benefits. However, the country relies not on taxation but mainly oil revenues to maintain the social and economic services to its populace.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unemployment_benefits#Saudi_Arabia
Yes, you do have a point that they throw the people a bone or two. But cronyism, rampant corruption and a really lousy job market for a large portion of young people makes it a potential cinderkeg.Not to mention the oppression from the religous police forcing the insane ideas of some midevil version of "religon" on a young population in the age of the Internet. Young people can go either way on that one. They might, might, think that they are lucky tolive in such a pious society and feel content. Or they might feel that it's a really shitty place they're in and clamor for change. Or they might, possibly through frustration and lack of opportunities, seek to join the radicals of those very real wahhabi fanatics Lee spoke of. Or something else entirely, I have no real insight into the mindset of Saudi youth so I'm mainly guessing here. But I think that given the choice there's a great many of them that would rather live in a democracy of some sort, and who might have demonstrated for that if not for the likelihood they would end up in one of those cellars and having their feet whipped purple at the very least.My hunch is that it isn't so much free healthcare that keeps them off the streets, but rather fear plain and simple.
I'm not exactly the greatest fan of the KSA, so I'm not going to try and defend it, beyond pointing out that the more the population grows, the less per capita the KSA monarchy will have available to spend on handouts. And the more that the problem will exacerbate.
"[M]any hint that Iran especially and other ME-countries too should be ‘freed’ but so very few even mention Saudi Arabia. Now, why is that?" Marcus @ 7:24 PM, prior thread "[D]o you think you perhaps see a native, Saudi democracy movement that has somehow escaped my attention?" Lee C. @ 7:54 AM, prior thread "No, I see no such movement." Marcus @ 1:09 PM, supraFirst things first: I see no good reason why this conversation isn't being conducted in the thread in which it originated. I don't see why you thought you had to bring it forward. That said, my central point, my central question was: "[W]hich of the counter forces to the royal family do you think we in The West should be supporting? *** *** "Whom does Sweden, or even your own personal self, support there in Saudi Arabia?" Lee C., ibid.I notice that the important question has gone unanswered. Instead you turn to pressing your claim that: "But very few are heard mentioning that Saudi Arabia should reform to democracy." Marcus @ @ 1:09 PM, supraI suppose that might be true in Sweden, maybe even all across Europe. However, the Saudi royals are, politically, rather unpopular, pretty much across the political spectrum, left to right, here in The States. (Dubyah's personal affection for the royal family being seen as an annoying, aberrant personal quirk, not much appreciated by much of anybody else. But, Dubyah's retired now, and there's not much point in belaborng the issue.) The fact that you guys don't often think to mention them doesn't mean they've escaped our attention over here.Quite simply, Marcus, the habit of turning a blind eye to the repression and corruption rampant in the Saudi political system is primarily a European sin (perhaps also indulged in South Africa), but it's not much indulged in over here.
Marxus: "No, I see no such movement. ... Still, there doesn't necessarily need to be a ready to go alternative if the goal is democracy, right?"Are you suggesting outside forces should intervene and help them towards democracy?
No Rhus, I think Marcus is suggesting that Europeans like me and him should engage in our God-given duty of bitchin' and whahnin' at you Americans, whilst doing nothing concrete about anything.
My prayers are with the brave Libyan people, all those people out on the streets know full well that the lunatic Moammar might kill them, yet they persist those massacres to ensure the freedom of their children. What a beautiful people these Libyans are, what a beautiful people these Arabs are.
May God go with the people of Libya.
And I'm not even very religious...but sometimes you just gotta ask for more powerful help.
FoxNews is reporting that Qaddafi's police and military have retreated from their positions in Benghazi and the people have taken the city.
Al-Jazeera is reporting that American F-16s are bombing civilians in Tripoli in support of Qaddafi. I wondered how long it'd be before somebody tried to float the faerie tale ‘bout how we Evil Merkins ‘created and sustained’ Moammar Qaddafi.
Marcus ate my hamster!
yeah- bitchin', whahnin', & payin' taxes...!
I see Liutenant Rhusty and Captain Pete are running to the aid of General Lee on this one. Nothing much worth answering back to in either of those posts though, so I'll adress Lee instead.Lee: "First things first: I see no good reason why this conversation isn't being conducted in the thread in which it originated."Because of the several posts in between I figured if I posted in the old thread no one would read it. Come to think of it I guess I should have considered who I was talking to here, as I can well imagine YOU going back and checking loose ends in old posts regularly. Sorry then, my bad. (See, I'm posting this in this thread instead of the newer one so I have learnt mmy lesson)Lee: "Quite simply, Marcus, the habit of turning a blind eye to the repression and corruption rampant in the Saudi political system is primarily a European sin (perhaps also indulged in South Africa), but it's not much indulged in over here."Oh. What administration has spoken about that out loud? I've never heard it. Not Bush I reckon. Could you perhaps point to a speech from Obama or Hillary, then, where they say that democratic reform is needed in Saudi Arabia or something along those lines?
I've no doubt that the Americans would have said something about "reform is needed" in the KSA. It's the same thing they say to all their dictator friends, for decades on end. It means nothing. They know it and the dictators know it. It's just woofing, for the public at home, so that the public knows that merika is the good guy here, and not on the side of them evil dictators, even as billions of dollars of weaponry is shipped to the dictators in an effort to keep them in power. Or, as US-speak would have it, "for the continued stability of [fill in pet dictatorial country]"This double game is one of the things that gets my goat about US foreign policy.
Once again, for Bruno this time: Those ‘billions of dollars of weaponry’ are private sales from private companies, and the dictators in question are obliged to pay for them. They would simply buy elsewhere if they didn't buy from American companies.. (Qaddafi bought mostly French here of late--although Russia was trying to regain market share and China's gotten a bit of a market share there too now.) The military assistance we give to various dictators is primarily given ‘in kind’, which means training and basic equipment, and payroll where necessary or desirable. (There's a reason those guys look like they're dressed in old-style, pre-pixellated American combat camo. That's where we're unloading the stocks of the old stuff.) The training seems to have been effective and desirable in at least some cases. The Egyptian military effectively absorbed the notion that they were a professional and respectable national military force, there to protect Egypt and not necessarily protect Mubarak personally, nor his political party. I'm not going to make an apology for that.
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