Saudi Arabia 2014
Saudi Arabia. The increasingly serious security situation in the region left traces in both domestic and foreign policy. Concerns over Saudis taking part in the fighting in Syria were assumed to be behind a decree issued by King Abdullah at the beginning of the year, imposing a prison sentence of up to 20 years for those who joined armed groups abroad. At the same time, imprisonment was imposed for up to 30 years to support terrorist groups. One terror list that was published included The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, which only a few months earlier had been terrorized by the military-led regime in Cairo.
According to Countryaah.com, Saudi Arabia population in 2020 is estimated at 34,813,882. Saudi Arabia’s relationship with Qatar reached a bottom level as the neighboring country more or less openly supported the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist groups in, among other places. Syria, Libya and the Gaza Strip. In March, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar, causing a serious crisis within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
US President Barack Obama visited the country in March, in what was believed to be an attempt to strengthen relations that were strained. of US cautious relaxation with the arch rival Iran.
In May, authorities said a terrorist organization had been detonated and more than 60 people arrested, suspected of plans for attacks on government buildings and foreign interests. In September, 88 people were arrested, including those suspected of terrorist plans.
Human rights organizations have criticized Saudi Arabia for an increase in arrests and prisons of dissent and strike against peaceful demonstrations. Particularly noteworthy was the 15-year prison sentence against the lawyer and Palm Priest, Walid Abu al-Khair, who is accused of insulting the judiciary and trying to undermine the state. He had, among other things, strongly criticized the new anti-terrorism legislation.
The Islamic State’s (IS) extremist group’s successes in Iraq and Syria during the summer increased tensions. From a religious point of view, it was established that al-Qaeda and IS constituted Islam’s “enemy number 1”. Saudi Arabia and other GCC states also decided to join the US-led coalition that launched air strikes against IS in Iraq first and then Syria.
The corona virus MERS continued to hit Saudi Arabia particularly hard, with a total of over 700 cases reported and over 300 dead since the virus was identified in 2012. However, after a peak in April-May, the spread appeared to have slowed. For security, however, comprehensive security measures were taken in October ahead of this year’s shark, when 2 million Muslims from all over the world made pilgrimages to Mecca. Concerns were also spreading about Ebola fever, and it prompted a ban on pilgrims from three countries in West Africa who were particularly hard hit by the deadly virus.
Imprisoned feminist hunger strikes
Lujain al-Hathlul, one of Saudi Arabia’s most famous feminists and imprisoned since 2018, is launching a hunger strike (see March 13, 2019). Relatives claim that she was subjected to violence and abuse in prison, which is denied by Saudi authorities. In early November, UN officials concerned about her health called on the Saudi authorities to release her.
Crown Prince sued for murder at Saudi consulate
Hatice Cengiz, fiancée of Jamal Khashoggi who was assassinated at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018, is suing the Saudi crown prince in US court. According to the lawsuit, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and more than 20 other people are responsible for the murder and the motive must have been that Khashoggi campaigned for democratization of the Arab world. Behind the atmosphere is, in addition to the fiancée, an organization formed by Khashoggi, who lived in exile in the United States and had disagreed with Saudi Arabia’s government (see latest September 7, 2020).
The Great Mosque in Mecca opens
The Great Mosque in Mecca reopens for prayer. It has been closed for seven months due to the corona pandemic. A number of safety measures are taken, at the same time as the decision to allow small pilgrimage (umra) is extended.
Nasal burn for Saudi Arabia at the UN
Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic aspirations run into adversity when the country is not elected by the other member states of the UN Human Rights Council. At the same time, China and Russia are being elected, great powers that are hardly known for showing respect for freedoms and rights. NGOs see the burning of Saudi Arabia as a sign that other countries are feeling uncomfortable with the regime, not least events such as the 2018 brutal assassination of the opposition Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul that was committed at a Saudi consulate by a homicide command sent from his homeland. 47 countries at a time are members of the UN Council and only they can vote when the Council makes decisions.
Small pilgrimage is allowed
Saudi authorities open for pilgrims to perform umrah, the so-called little pilgrimage to Mecca. It means that the rites are limited compared to what it usually looks like at the great pilgrimage ceremony. Umra can normally be performed at any time during the year, but this year has been completely stopped since March by the corona pandemic. The risk of spreading the sars-cov-2 virus means that a maximum of 6,000 pilgrims per day can now move around the holy places. If all goes well, the number will increase gradually.