Rep. Ilhan Omar and 45 House Democrats signed a letter demanding that the United States withdraw from participation in the G-20 summit next month in Saudi Arabia. They say that Saudi Arabian human rights abuses and the undemocratic nature of its regime “stands in stark contrast with every ideal we claim to uphold as Americans.”
While some European nations have scaled back their participation, no leaders have plans to boycott the meeting.
Saudi Arabia has recently made peace overtures to Israel and supports the UAE normalization agreement with the Jewish state. You don’t think that might have something to do with Omar’s and other radicals’ opposition to meeting there, do you?
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Omar and Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., joined with family members of imprisoned activists to call on the Trump administration Wednesday to stand up for women and those who have been detained, tortured and killed by Saudi Arabia, including writer Jamal Khashoggi.
“If we are to be the nation that stands for human rights, for justice and for accountability, then it is critical that the United States withdraw its full participation in this year’s G20 as long as it is being hosted by the Saudi Arabians and in Riyadh,” Schakowsky said.
Women’s rights in almost all Arab countries are non-existent — at least, in the context that we think of them. And the Saudi royal family are corrupt kleptocrats who murder regime opponents, jail the opposition to their monarchy, and practice a particularly severe form of Islam known as Wahabism.
So no drunken orgies in Riyadh.
But what the radicals fail to note is that the Saudis are marginally on our side — at least, when it suits them. And they are a regional counterbalance to Iran’s growing hegemony. In that sense, they are very important to U.S. interests and need to be treated that way — regardless of the brutal nature of their regime.
The alternative is not to our liking.
The lawmakers raised special concerns for women in Saudi Arabia and have called for abolishing the male guardianship system, repealing laws that give husbands absolute control over wives and making clear that marital rape is a crime.
“Today, human rights and civil society norms are under threat across the world,” the letter states. “Our government has an obligation to ensure that G20 convenings are not used by host governments to obscure or hide their own repressive and environmentally destructive practices.”
The Trump administration has been consistent in taking a realpolitik approach to most nations. Liberals in the U.S. and Europe don’t like it. They want to make themselves feel good about opposing the human rights abuses of selective nations. It plays into their heroic self-image as champions of human rights — at least when it comes to nations and causes they don’t support.
Trump should ignore this grandstanding plea from the radicals and go to Riyadh with a clear conscience.