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The Washington Post's Take on Saudi Arabia!

The Washington Post's Take on Saudi Arabia!

Friday, 10 August, 2018 - 10:15
Salman Al-Dossary
Salman Al-Dossary is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

At its core, the Saudi-Canadian recently erupted conflict is not as much about “human rights,” as it is spun around Canadian encroachment on and intervention in Saudi internal affairs.

In a nutshell, Canada not only blatantly intruded on the affairs of another country, but also provocatively allowed for its embassy in Riyadh to post an escalatory tweet on its official account in Arabic. A move which defies the historic tradition of embassies being thought of as the first lifeline for mediation in the case of any disputes emerging between any two countries. But in this case, the Canadian embassy was used to promote for a crisis which is harmful to both countries.

Trailing along, the internationally-known newspaper “The Washington Post” published an editorial with a sweeping Arabic introduction, a first, which overlooks all facts involved in the crisis and sides with the Canadian argument.

Granted, each media outlet has the right to fully express the views of its editors, but what stands out is the audacity in imposing Western values, which are still contented among Western countries themselves, on the Saudi Kingdom. Demanding of Saudi Arabia to strictly abide by vague notions that the West still is indecisive on, is a case made for double standards.

The Washington Post, a great liberal newspaper, wants to reshape cultural values in countries that are thousands of miles away, just to justify the Canadian understanding of human rights and fundamental freedoms as the “right one.”

It continued to make the argument on Western values being conceded universal truths, without explaining or mentioning when and how it was deemed so!

What gives any country the right to impose its culture on other countries?!

Going an extra mile, the newspaper disastrously made the assertion that Saudi internal affairs are a cause for legitimate concern among all democracies and free societies. Unfortunately, such irrational calls go beyond being provocative and into helping extremists rallying supporters under the slogan of combatting Western interference in the region.

Emphasizing on the undebatable nature of having to adhere to universal human rights, the diversity of values and cultures should be taken into account as an important factor for the promotion and protection of human rights.

It is worth mentioning that among industrialized countries, there are four which still apply the death penalty: the United States, Japan, Singapore, and Taiwan. More so, there are 32 states in the US that made legal and work by the death penalty. Remaining US states consider capital punishment a violation of human rights.

With that being said, it is questionable how the Washington Post took it upon itself to make holy and dub as universal a specific set of ‘values,’ when a Western country such as the US can’t find consensus upon similar matters.

Saudi Arabia actively cooperates with United Nations human rights bodies, is also a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, and spends relentless efforts in amending slips over time as an essential part of its reform project.

The Saudi government has also been making remarkable shifts and changes with the implementation of its national plan for transformation known as Kingdom Vision 2030.

It cannot be assumed that a universal clear-cut definition for human rights has been settled in today's world. And it is nearly impossible to find an across-the-board consent on such a meaning or even find a mechanism for full global application and throughout diverse world cultures.

Needless to say, Canada's values are now under attack on a world stage. Countries such as Italy and Austria have elected to power politicians who espouse ideas similar to those held by the Republican US President Donald Trump. All of whom are not in the same boat with the Canadian government's very advanced approach to liberalism.

Commenting on the crisis between Canada and Saudi Arabia, Maclean’s Andrew MacDougall writes ‘the question for Canada now: What can we do about it?’ in his August opinion piece, “Canada risks paying the price for being a Boy Scout in a bad-boy world.”

“We might not like it, but the answer might be toning down our rhetoric abroad while keeping the fires lit at home—at least until the United States gets itself together,” he adds.

MacDougall’s conclusion represents a clear and rational take on things, which is consistent with international relations and principles of non-interference in the sovereignty of world states.

In other words, Canada is free to impose its set of values within its borders so long it believes it fits and serves its citizens’ best interest. However, it is not free to classify its values and culture as superior to others.

It goes without saying that The Washington Post can also take a page out of this book instead of opting to cross-measure countries to standards upheld by other states.

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