8:18 AM, Sep 19, 2013 • By IRFAN AL-ALAWI and STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
Against the expectation of many observers, social change continues in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Recent reforms have particularly affected the status of women. At the end of August, the Saudis took a remarkable and surprising step by criminalizing domestic violence. As reported in the London Independent, the Saudi cabinet “passed a ban on domestic violence and other forms of abuse against women for the first time in the Kingdom’s history.”
The prohibition defines domestic violence as a punishable offense and is applicable in home and employment relationships. It outlaws exploitation on the basis of gender, and psychological mistreatment or the threat of it. The new Saudi law establishes programs for treatment and shelter of abuse victims. It holds official law enforcement responsible for the investigation and prosecution of such complaints. Guilty verdicts may produce a penalty of up to a year in prison and fines as large as $13,000.
Saudi media said the royal cabinet mandated that “all civilian and military employees and all workers in the private sector who learn of a case of abuse—by virtue of their work—shall report the case to their employers. … The employers shall report the case to the Ministry of Social Affairs or police.”
According to CNN, the law is meant to shield the most vulnerable residents of the country, including women, domestic workers, and children. The cable network added that sentences may be doubled against repeat offenders.
Eman Al Nafjan, a Saudi who blogs under the name “SaudiWoman,” pointed out to CNN that the new law has been introduced in a country that still permits underage child marriage. CNN cited further warnings by Saudi critics that the law did not specify spousal rape as a form of domestic violence or alter the absurd regulations under which Saudi women are required to gain permission from a male family member or “guardian” in carrying out such personal tasks as traveling or applying for a visa, opening a bank account, attending college, getting a job, or checking into a hospital. Still, an editorial early in September by the Saudi Gazette, a daily published in Jedda, the country’s commercial capital, emphasized that under the new law parents who persist in wrongdoing against their offspring may suffer revocation of guardianship.
Earlier this year, the King Khalid Foundation, a leading Saudi charitable institution, launched an advertising campaign against domestic violence, with a poster showing a woman in the Saudi-style face veil or niqab, with only her eyes visible and one black eye. The placard declared, in Arabic and English, "Some things can't be covered." Another version said, “What is hidden, is worse.”
The Saudi Gazette declared, “The new law recently passed by the Kingdom that will criminalize different forms of abuse at home and in the workplace is a landmark ruling because for the first time in the country’s history, the subject is being seriously tackled. … Perhaps most important is that the issue is being brought out in the open. … Domestic abuse has become a growing topic of debate in Saudi Arabia. … The National Society for Human Rights has reported 1,998 cases of abuse against women out of a total of 2,293 domestic abuse cases between 2004, when the organization was established, and 2011, not including the abuse not reported which might easily surpass the official numbers. … Instead of doing nothing about the violations, there is now recourse through the courts. The airing of dirty linen is sometimes needed to right a wrong.”
The daily Arab News, considered closer to the royal powers that be, published a headline announcing that the monarchy “Declares war on domestic abuse.” The Arab News quoted Mohammed Al-Harbi, general manager of Social Protection at the Ministry of Social Affairs, stipulating that “urgent domestic violence cases now can be handled quickly. ‘Urgent investigations will be launched and action will be taken in the cases where the abusers are under the influence of drugs or alcohol and those who suffer from psychological conditions,’ Al-Harbi said.”
7:15 AM, Sep 4, 2013 • By LEE SMITH
Lost in the debate over responding to Bashar al-Assad’s use of nerve gas is the fact that the United States has other interests in the Syrian civil war, like mitigating the effects of the war on Syria’s neighbors—Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq and Israel—and countering the regional ambitions of Assad’s key ally, Iran. Unfortunately, the president has consistently failed to advance these arguments over the last two years. The White House has also been consistent in one other respect: It has repeatedly blamed others for its failures.
After a week's worth of fighting in Syria, the Islamic resistance licks its wounds.3:16 PM, May 24, 2013 • By LEE SMITH
For over a week now, the Syrian town of Qusayr in Homs Province has seen some of the heaviest fighting in the two-year conflict. The struggle for Qusayr, says besieged President Bashar al-Assad, “is the main battle” in all of Syria.
12:11 PM, Feb 12, 2013 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Fox News reported yesterday that Chuck Hagel, who has been nominated as the next secretary of defense, failed to “disclose at least two recent speeches on the subject of the Arab-Israeli conflict” in paperwork filed with the Senate.
2:54 PM, Nov 8, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
The U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, James Smith, told the Arabic news outlet Asharq Al-Awsat that American foreign policy will now change after President Barack Obama's reelection. Smith made the comments at an election night party at his residence.
5:30 PM, Jul 31, 2012 • By NOAH POLLAK
The press is having fun today amplifying the complaint of Palestinian "negotiator" Saeb Ereikat that comments Mitt Romney made in Jerusalem yesterday are "racist." What was Romney's offense? In the course of expressing amazement at Israel's economic miracle, he merely pointed out that cultural differences lead to differences in economic performance.
8:05 AM, Jun 22, 2012 • By IRFAN AL-ALAWI and STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
The death last week of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Nayef Bin Abd Al-Aziz, aged 78 and heir to his half-brother, King Abdullah Bin Abd Al-Aziz, was not immediately foreseen by the Saudi public.
10:22 PM, Jun 16, 2012 • By IRFAN AL-ALAWI and STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
Saudi Arabian crown prince Nayef Bin Abd Al-Aziz, designated heir to King Abdullah Bin Abd Al-Aziz, died Saturday in Geneva, where he was receiving medical treatment. Nayef, 78, headed the country’s ministry of interior and was deputy premier in the royal cabinet. He was named crown prince last year.
2:33 PM, May 21, 2012 • By IRFAN AL-ALAWI and STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz last December called for promoting the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), including the Saudi kingdom, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Oman, into a unified body, which has been described as a “super-state.” The Saudis and the other GCC members are currently engaged in discussions intended to bring closer coordination, if not fusion, within the council.
1:33 PM, Apr 23, 2012 • By ELLIOTT ABRAMS
The situation of the Palestinian Authority is grim. Its diplomatic offensive against Israel in the United Nations did not win it statehood, there are no serious negotiations with Israel because the PA refuses them, Hamas controls Gaza, and Palestinian elections keep getting postponed despite the “Arab Spring” and the wave of elections in Arab countries. Internally, relations between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad were recently so poor that for several days Abbas apparently refused even to speak to Fayyad.
5:31 PM, Oct 4, 2011 • By LEE SMITH
Ladbrokes of London, the famous British bookmaker, lists the Syrian-born poet Adonis as a 4 to 1 favorite to win this year’s Nobel Prize, due to be announced in the next few days. According to one Ladbrokes official, “I really think this is poetry’s year, and without a doubt, the politically correct choice would be Adonis.”
States can and will support al Qaeda, unless they continue to fear an American response.3:21 PM, Sep 7, 2011 • By REUEL MARC GERECHT
Has the United States been successful in its war against terrorism? Yes, without a doubt. Although Islamic militancy remains a potent force, especially in Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent, Washington’s relentless pursuit of armed jihadists has severely damaged the capacity of Sunni radical groups to strike the United States, at home and abroad.
1:18 PM, Aug 24, 2011 • By PHILIP TERZIAN
The apparent fall of the Qaddafi regime, and the likely capture (or killing) of the tyrant himself, will signal the end not only of four decades of internal repression and external terrorism, but one of the more vexing orthographic challenges in modern American journalism: the spelling of the colonel's surname.