Saudi journalist Sabria S. Jawhar writes in the Saudi English language daily, the Arab News on March 24, 2014. A link to the story is here, and the text is pasted in below.
- Sabria S. Jawhar
US President Barack Obama during his visit to Saudi Arabia on March 28
is expected to defend the United States’ position on Iran, Syria and
Egypt. America’s warmer relations with Iran, in particular, have
affected the 70-year relationship between the two countries.
abandonment of the Egyptian government, a vital Saudi ally, and his
failure to intervene last fall when there was documented evidence that
the Syrian government used chemical weapons to kill civilians has
angered the entire region.
America and Saudi Arabia have always
enjoyed a close and binding relationship and it’s only now there
has been some disagreements.
In view of the new developments, the Saudi government has taken the initiative to forge strong ties with non-western countries.
quite a surprise when Amnesty International demonstrated breathtaking
naiveté in an ill-considered campaign to get Obama raise women’s driving
issue during his visit to the Kingdom. Amnesty International also wants
Obama to meet with Saudi women who protested the driving ban last Oct.
Here we have two countries warily circling each other following
profound changes in American foreign policy, which could conceivably
alter their future relationship for decades to come, and the human
rights group feels the timing is perfect to play dirty.
there is no religious justification for banning Saudi women from
driving. We also know now that Saudi society either accepts or is
indifferent to women getting behind the wheel. If Oct. 26 has taught us
anything, the driving ban is a government position. I have said many
times in this column that I and most of the women I know want the right
to drive whether we actually get behind the wheel or not.
tone-deaf Amnesty International thinks it’s prudent for Obama to raise
women’s driving issue. Here’s the point I see: At the precise moment
that Obama needs to bridge the obvious gap between Saudi Arabia and his
administration, the world’s largest and most respected human rights
organization wants to thrust an obscene gesture right in Saudis’ faces.
human rights group argues that Saudi women would “benefit from global
solidarity.” While Saudi women’s social media campaign has certainly
publicized their efforts, the impact of global solidarity is
Amnesty International consistently ignores that Saudis
will not under any circumstances accept the imposition of a foreign
government’s will on Saudi Arabia. Any foreign agenda will be rejected.
Even many supporters of the women driving issue will not accept external
intervention. Our pride and dignity preclude such interference and only
Saudis will effect change.
Yes, the world needs to know that we want
our rights guaranteed in Islam, but having heads of state exert
external pressure on domestic issues smack of stupidity. Saudi Arabia
certainly hasn’t indulged in putting pressure on the French government
to lift its niqab ban or Switzerland’s minaret ban. Saudi Arabia also
hasn’t made efforts to curb the rise in power of anti-Muslim political
parties. Yet Amnesty International sees fit to interfere in domestic
If Saudi Arabia had a track record of bowing to
international scrutiny, then maybe such a plan would work. But really,
since when has the Saudi government ever expressed the slightest concern
over what any western country says about Saudi women driving?
advocates have myriad tools available to wage their campaign, not the
least of which is social media. Applying pressure to President Obama to
join in the campaign will backfire. Such a campaign also seriously
misreads the status of the relationship between the United States and