America’s Double Standard Approach towards...
Saudi Arabia playing host to the US President on 20 April, 2016, was objected by several international NGOs. The coinciding of the US President and King Salman and the Gulf Cooperation Council with the events taking place in Yemen, resulted in Amnesty International sending a letter to Barak Obama. The letter, which was dated a day before the GCC sitting, highlights instances of human rights violations such as freedom of expression, fair trial, executions and so on, and has two attachments. In the first attachment there’s list of individuals and activists incarcerated in Persian Gulf countries, and the second attachment is a list of cases of human rights violations in these six countries. The letter was addressed to the US President and the government, and criticises the country’s actions in confronting human rights violations.
Perhaps the reasons for America’s double standard approach towards the violation of human rights in the GCC counties can be searched in two factors:
1 – US economic relations with the six GCC countries.
2 – Iran’s competition with the GCC countries and the effects of the Iran-US nuclear agreement.
GCC member states (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman) have close economic relations with the United States. American companies in these countries, and the extensive investment of these countries in various industries in America are all just a part of the economic relations betweene two.
But from another perspective the GCC countries who have always been strategic allies of the United States in the region are not happy with the Iran-US agreement and see America’s steps for reaching an agreement as a stab in the back. And it makes it difficult for America to remove the fear from Saudi Arabia and a number of other Persian Gulf countries that has been created as a result of the nuclear agreement with Iran.
Considering what has been said above, a suitable finding can be reached regarding America’s approach. The United States always puts its national and strategic interests first from other issues, including human rights. The worry that these countries will take their investments out of America, creation of jobs for Americans via drawing the investments of these six countries, finding target market for its arms manufacturers, have all resulted in America to turn a blind eye on things to go on in these countries, and what they are doing in Yemen, and instead America is concentrating all its efforts on reassuring these GCC countries.
As well as the Yemen issue, with some deliberation on other human rights violations (such as gender discrimination, women and minorities rights, arbitrary detentions, capital punishment, exploitation of migrant workers, and increasing intolerance to demonstrations and expression of criticisms, application of anti-terror laws and cybercrimes against citizens) in Persian Gulf countries we see the contradiction on how a country like the United States who sees its duty to protect human rights, and clearly states it in its Constitution (articles 2 to 21) remains silent towards all the aforementioned violations that take place in these countries.
Finally, we cannot expect a resolute approach by America towards the six GCC member states, not to mention that the United States has in some cases escalated the sectarianisms and disputes in the Middle East region. America’s practice in the region is adopting a policy which is with consideration of political interest which always prioritises it own interests first. In Yemen the US government supplies arms to both the Saudi led coalition, and also the Huthi rebels, and it is expected that the arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other GCC states to regain their trust. It seems the only way it is possible to put an end to the conflict in Yemen and human rights violations in other GCC states is to form independent coalitions away from America, to be more effective and to utilise enforceable mechanisms such as treaties; which in itself is a time consuming process, and at the same time painful – both for the conflict stricken people of Yemen and also civil society activists in the six GCC member states.
Keyumars Ahmadi Tabar