Enough platitudes, John Kerry – it is time the US got tough with Saudi Arabia

On 2 February 2016, International Business Times published an op-ed by ADHRB advocacy associate Ellen Duthoy regarding the US’ silence amidst Saudi Arabia’s increasing human rights abuses both at home and abroad. The first paragraphs of the article are found below; the rest can be viewed here


At the end of January, attachés to US Secretary of State John Kerry dusted off the typical lines about Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuses. Concerns were expressed, disappointments were leveled. Kerry made his first visit to Riyadh after the mass execution of 47 people, including Muslim cleric and opposition leader Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, three political dissidents, several mentally ill prisoners, and multiple prisoners arrested for crimes committed as minors.

It is unclear exactly what issues Secretary Kerry raised in these high-level meetings. Despite a flurry of international criticism regarding Saudi Arabia’s mass execution, the US government has been exceptionally muted in its response. After the executions, the State Department reported that it had “expressed [its] concerns” about the legal process in Saudi Arabia and raised those concerns at “high levels of the Saudi government.”

Emerging from meetings with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, Secretary Kerry declared the discussion to be “one of the most constructive conversations that we have had in a time.” Speaking to embassy staff in Riyadh, he stated, “We have as solid a relationship, as clear an alliance, and [as strong] a friendship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as we have ever had.”

Read on…