Boycotting Saudi Arabia

by LouAnn Villani-Heller, Middle East Crisis Committee

A number of groups got together in February and called for an economic, cultural and entertainment boycott of Saudi Arabia. The groups are horrified by the Saudi regime war on Yemen, its murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and its imprisonment of feminists and others.

There are legislative efforts to force the Trump administration to stop its participation in the Saudi war on Yemen. A bill passed the House this year that invokes the War Powers Act to end U.S. involvement, but its future in the Senate is uncertain. The Senate Republican majority has increased after the election, and the new chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee appears to be a supporter of the Trump line. Even if it passes the Senate, Trump can veto the legislation so the whole effort may just “send a message” while the calamity in Yemen continues.

Popular efforts must be made. One possibility is to use the BDS tactics being used against Israeli apartheid. CODE-PINK has already campaigned to get Black Eyed Peas and Mariah Carey to cancel their appearances in Saudi Arabia. It’s appealing to VICE media to end its production of publicity videos for the monarchy. Campaigns to get MIT to break ties with Saudi Arabia and (our own) efforts to get the University of New Haven to end its work for the Saudi police college are other examples. More about this on SaudiUS.org.

On another issue, MECC is continuing to support the courageous stand of Texas teacher Bahia Amawi in refusing to sign a pledge that she would not boycott Israeli goods. Texas passed an outrageous unconstitutional law requiring that promise in 2017. Amawi was fired for her actions. At present, she is suing and is being supported by the Council on American-Islamic Relations. It appears that no trade unions are supporting her or even noticing what’s happening. MECC is gathering signers of a letter calling on unions to rally to support Amawi.

Details at TheStruggle.org.

Khashoggi Family Still Not Getting Justice

by Stanley Heller, Exec. Director, Middle East Crisis Committee

On the one hand it’s staggering. The U.S. Senate unani-mously voted to declare the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia the person responsible for the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Just this spring the Crown Prince was on a victory tour of the U.S. being wined and dined from every-body from Bloomberg to Oprah to “The Rock.” On the other hand, we don’t know if anyone involved in the murder has been punished. The Saudi Arabian prosecutor claims to have arrested 20 people, but he has not released the names, nor has the prosecutor said a word about what happened to Khashoggi’s remains. You would think with 20 people in custody, with some supposedly pleading guilty, the Saudi police would know where the remains are located. But the prosecutor has said nothing. It may be part of Khashoggi’s punishment! Over 30 Saudi families who have lost a son to an execution or police killing have been told the body is being withheld. MECC has a petition on our site thestruggle.org calling for the bodies of all the executed to be returned to their families.

The Middle East Crisis Committee and Promoting Enduring Peace are also trying to get the West Haven City Council to speak out and call for the University of New Haven (housed in West Haven) to break its ties to the Saudi police/military college. As far as we can tell it’s the only college that directly helps the Saudi “security.” We’ve sent a model resolution to the Council and are working to get them to pass it. To help out with this contact mail@thestruggle.org or call (203) 934-2761.

We’re also working on the crisis in Al Rukban. It’s a remote part of Syria near Jordan and Iraq where tens of thousands of refugees are living in a desert. They’ve run from Assad and ISIS. Neither Jordan nor Iraq will let them in. So Al Rukban is under siege and the people are really in a bad way. The pathetic thing is they’re just a couple of miles away from a U.S. base in Syria and the U.S. won’t help them.  #US-Help2Rukban, contact office@pepeace.org to spread the word.

Petition: Return Khashoggi’s Remains

Stanley Heller, Middle East Crisis Committee

At a meeting in the West Haven library in November, a suggestion became a petition. While the Saudis and the U.S. investigate the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, an idea bubbled up for a simple act of decency that could be concluded right away: the return of the remains of Khashoggi to his family. The Middle East Crisis Committee created a petition that simply says “Saudi authorities should return the body of the murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi to his family. They should also return all other bodies of those executed or killed by the Saudi government.” You can get to it by visiting MoveOn.org.

The meeting had been called to discuss ideas to pressure the University of New Haven to break its ties to the Saudi regime. The college assists the Saudi police college, the King Fahd Security College in Riyadh. The nature of the assistance is very vague. MECC’s discovery that one of the members of the hit team sent to Istanbul was a top Saudi forensic scientist who was on a Saudi forensic board with UNH’s Henry C. Lee attracted national and even international attention.

Saudi authorities arrested a score of people and intend to seek the death penalty for five. Surely after two months, the Saudi investigators know the location of the remains or the names of the Turkish operatives they claim disposed of the body. There is no reason the information should not be shared with the family and the public. The petition also mentions other bodies kept by the Saudi government as a continued punishment of families. A Saudi human rights group based in Berlin says over 30 bodies of people executed or killed in raids have been “detained” by the government.

It became apparent that President Trump, for all his talk of “severe punishment” of the killers of the U.S.-based journalist, will do nothing since the murder was ordered by high Saudi authorities and Trump doesn’t want to harm weapons sales. We cannot let the issue die. Please sign the petition.

For more on local actions, visit TheStruggle.org.

Call for UNH and Yale Law to Break Ties with Saudis

by Stanley Heller, Middle East Crisis Committee (MECC)

[As the PAR print edition goes to print, Newsweek has picked up this story of the universities’ collusion with the Saudi government. By the time you read this in PAR, we expect more investigation will have been done and publicized on an international scale. Congratulations, Stan Heller, for exposing this local world-wide connection!]

Ever more gruesome details emerge daily of the likely torture-murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi on orders of the highest officials of the Saudi government.  The Middle East Crisis Committee (MECC) has for years advised Connecticut institutions with relationships with Saudi Arabia to break ties with the cruel regime.  In view of the Khashoggi murder, we call on the University of New Haven, which has helped create a security studies program at the police college of Saudi Arabia and is apparently teaching forensic skills there, to immediately suspend all cooperation with King Fahd Security College. It should publicly explain what it is doing in its secretive program in the kingdom.

We have asked how they can justify doing work with a police college in a country with an absolute monarchy and a justice system known for prosecuting activists calling for democratic rights and full equality for women, one where suspects are tortured. We’ve been met only with silence.  We’ve also called on University of New Haven administrators to explain if any of the skills they are teaching in Saudi Arabia are being used by the Saudi military which is engaged in a brutal illegal war in Yemen.

The Middle East Crisis Committee also calls on Owen Fiss and Anthony Kronman, directors of the Abdullah S. Kamel Center for the Study of Islamic Law at Yale Law School, to speak out. This murder of Khashoggi is an outrageous violation of any legal precept and demands condemnation. It would be extremely beneficial if the Kamel Center hosted an emergency public conference of Islamic law scholars to examine the woeful state of the Saudi system of justice in a country that claims to strictly follow Islamic law.

The center was funded by Abdullah Kamel’s son Saleh Kamel.  Abdullah Kamel was detained by Prince Mohammed Bin Salman last fall on charges of corruption.  Reportedly $4 billion, most of Kamel’s money, has been forfeited without any due process.  Forbes magazine, which had estimated Kamel’s fortune at $2.6 billion, has removed him from its list of billionaires.

Updates will be posted at thestruggle.org and our Facebook page Middle East Crisis Committee.

Congress Can Stop Latest Arms Sale to Saudi War Criminal Government

by Stanley Heller, Middle East Crisis Committee

The Obama Administration has announced a $1.1 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia. That country, mightily assisted by the United States, the Al-Sissi dictatorship in Egypt and the Darfur killing regime in Sudan, is attacking Yemen causing thousands of casualties. In a surprise move on August 17 the New York Times called for a suspension in the arms sales to Saudi Arabia over its horrendous attacks on civilian targets in Yemen. Congress has just until the very start of September to oppose the arms deal. Calls to Congressional offices are needed.

gouta atack-syriaThe group “Just Foreign Policy” has an electronic petition calling for rejection of the latest arms deal. It can be reached here: http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/blog.

U.S. Sen. Murphy of CT has taken a leading role in criticizing the Yemen War and Saudi expenditure of perhaps $100 billion to spread its bigoted and women-hating Wahhabi ideology worldwide.
More about Saudi aggression and the terrible human rights record of the absolute monarchy at http://www.SaudiUS.org.