Saudi Arabia bans protests, drafts troops ahead of weekend demonstration

Saudia Arabia has drafted 10,000 soldiers and banned all protests and marches after reports of a 20,000 strong uprising brewing in Riyadh this coming Friday.

Saudi rulers have already offered its citizens benefits worth US$37 billion in a bid to insulate the country from the wave of revolutionary turmoil currently affecting the Middle East.

The UK’s Telegraph newspaper reported that Saudi’s Interior Ministry had issued a statement on national television warning that protests “contradicted Islamic laws and social values”, and threatened violence against any disruptive elements.

In response, Saudi opposition groups were reportedly circulating Facebook messages encouraging demonstrators to stack the front lines on Friday with women, to prevent security forces from firing on the civilians.

Along with the overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi’s campaign of violence repression against his population, tensions in Saudi have also been exacerbated by the Shia uprising in nearby Bahrain.

Small demonstrations have erupted across the Saudi in areas home to Saudi’s Shia Muslim minority, many calling for the release of prisoners allegedly being held without trial.

Maldives’ economy could “collapse in hours”

Saudi Arabia sits on 20 percent of the world’s oil reserves and is its single largest producer of crude. Regional tensions have already pushed the price of oil to US$116 a barrel.

Yesterday, UK Aid Minister and former oil trader Alan Duncan speculated in the country’s press that the price could rocket as high as US$200 a barrel while a full-scale regional meltdown could see it hit US$250 a barrel.

”Two hundred dollars is on the cards if… anyone is reckless and foments unrest,” Duncan said. ”It could be very serious. If crude oil doubles, you’re going to have a serious spike [in petrol prices]. Try living without it for a week.”

One country that cannot afford to live with it for even a day is the Maldives, which spends 25 percent of its GDP on fuel – primarily marine diesel. That currently represents a daily expenditure of US$670,000 to meet the country’s fuel needs, approximately US$800 per person per year in a country where the average annual income is under US$5000.

If that price were to hit Duncan’s estimate on the back of Saudi unrest, “the Maldives’ economy would collapse with hours”, predicted a senior government source.

Civil war in Libya

Western countries have meanwhile put troops on standby as Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi fights back against a growing uprising in the troubled country.

British SAS forces have already been active in the country evacuating UK nationals, many of whom worked in the country’s oil industry. The UK press reports that eight SAS soldiers were captured by Gaddafi’s forces while escorting a British diplomat to meet opposition leaders, although UK authorities would not confirm or deny the report.

Much of eastern Libya is under rebel control, including the town of Benghazi and, after several attempts by Gaddafi to retake it, Zawiyah near Tripoli. The opposition also now control the oil port of Ras Lanuf.

Rebel forces reportedly captured two tanks during the fighting on Saturday, but apart from the equipment brought by an estimated 6000 defecting soldiers, the opposition is considerably outgunned by those loyal to the 41 year old autocracy.

Gaddafi has used foreign mercenaries and aerial bombing in an attempt to quell the uprising, and some opposition groups have tentatively stated that they would approve of foreign intervention to create a no-fly zone in a bid to ground Gaddafi’s airforce and stop it from bombing protesters. Two airforce officers who disapproved of their orders flew their planes to Malta and requested asylum.

Some civilian fighters have armed themselves with rocket-propelled grenades and anti-aircraft guns, reports a Telegraph journalist in the country, but the majority are armed with little more than “hammers and barbecue skewers”.

“Much of the rebellion is being fought by welders and engineers, shopkeepers and waiters, a dishevelled army of civilian volunteers commanded by a handful of military officers who have agreed to join the fight,” reports the UK’s Telegraph.

Interpol has put out a global alert against Gaddafi and 15 others including his family members and close associates, “in a bid to warn member states of the danger posed by the movement of these individuals and their assets.”

The Maldives Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ahmed Naseem, has called on leaders at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva to assist the countries undergoing a democratic transition in the Middle East.

Naseem said the Maldives welcomed the spread of democracy in the Muslim world, and praised the bravery and determination of those citizens in Egypt, Tunisia, Tunisia and elsewhere “for asserting their fundamental rights and freedoms, and for believing in a better future.”

“The Muslim Awakening heralds the end of power of the few for the few, and the beginning of a new era founded upon universal values, individual freedom, and mutual respect and tolerance,” Naseem said. “The Awakening also puts to bed, once and for all, the notion that Islam is somehow inherently incompatible with human rights and democracy.”


11 thoughts on “Saudi Arabia bans protests, drafts troops ahead of weekend demonstration”

  1. who cares about these serious issues in this country? no one. all that we are worried about are petty party politics, and politicians wanking on webcams. What a sorry situation. No one realizes the grave danger we are in. Gayoom & co is fighting for their return to power while Anni (sorrounded by the likes of Reeko, Maria, IH. Zaki) is focussed on squeezing every penny out of the 3 years they have now.

  2. @ragib

    Don't despair. Worse is yet to come 🙂

    It will take a sudden shock of some kind for people to realise they need to think about building the country rather than fighting amongst themselves.

    If history can teach us anything, it's the fact that if we fight with ourselves, we will lose everything we have.

    If oil does rise to ridiculous levels and the Maldivies face imminent economic collapse, then no blue, red, green, yellow colours can blame one another. But they may still try. But hunger on the streets will bring in a dose of reality.

  3. I wonder how many people prayed for a chance for a change - is this a time and place of an answer?

  4. Protests are against Islamic values? Really? Maybe somebody should teach the Saudi royals what true Islam is. They have spent years and billions of oil money to distort it!

  5. it comes down to the Humen. Its the greed. We are bad creatures. I can not believe the great God would create such a thing and have a civil war over us in the heavens ...what a joke. cant wait for Dec of 2012 for this entire thing to be over.

  6. Heh heh. HAH HAHH HAHAAHHH!!.

    How typical of the arab tyrants, to label all dissent against their regime as 'unislamic' and 'against shari'a law'.

    No matter what they do, no matter what religion they try to justify their crimes with, they will fall.

  7. Islam came to protect the rights of the down trodden people. No one has a right to declare anyone or any protest un-islamic if the person or the protest is for the rights of the human beings. It is time. This monarchy has become outdated and should be removed from the scene.

  8. Democracy has always existed in some form or the other. In Islam it is widely termed as 'Shura'. The problem here is not democracy. It is about the equitable distribution of wealth.

    If HEP does not bring former President to justice he is setting a bad precedent. Anni himself is beyond reproach because he has never been inspired by greed whereas I cannot say the same for some of his fair-weather friends/opportunists. Anyone in power can milk the country dry. Accountability and transparency becomes bywords to smooth over the rough edges. This is the bottom line.

  9. First of all the name "SAUDI Arabia" is derived from Saudi family...the name of the country itself is from Saudi family---the country has been rules by
    King Saud family----all the wealth, all investments in the country belong to the family members. The family is above law in everything---They can do everything as and when they wish----Adultery with foreign prostitutes, young men etc are so common and they themselves do not know who their mothers are in many cases.... Every royal family member is a multi billionaire and the entire national wealth belongs to them....they hv enormous wealth and property in most expensive cities of the world...Most of the year is spend on boozing and womanizing in those cities....this is the absolute truth.....Therefore all citizens of that country must fight their rights and overthrown the Saudi Dynasty ----its already too late....

  10. Saudi is a junk yard, and out of junk yards, nothing of any good will be exported.

    Sadly we have be outwitted by a Moroccan traveller and conned into thinking that Saudi is the heaven on earth.


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