Inside the Brutal Reality of Saudi Arabia

Inside the Dark Kingdom: Butchery, Slavery and History of Revolt

Abby Martin (2015)

Film Review

Inside the Dark Kingdom is a documentary celebrating the irony of Saudi Arabia’s selection to head the UN Panel of Human Rights. The blatant hypocrisy of the (successful) US campaign for this tyrannical kingdom to champion global human rights is obvious from the simple statement of facts. As is the duplicity of trying to depose the so-called “bloody dictator” of Syria while openly supporting the Saudi reign of terror.

The film investigates Saudi Arabia’s brutal and arbitrary criminal justice system, their brutal oppression of women, their virtual enslavement of migrant workers, their recent invasion of Yemen, their role in 9-11 and their reliance on US military assistance to suppress human rights organizing.

Saudi trials take place in secret, often without legal representation for the accused. Saudi subjects can be beheaded, stoned or crucified for crimes such as adultery, blasphemy, homosexuality and drug use and imprisoned and lashed for human rights advocacy or being victimized by sexual assault (typically rape victims receive more lashes than the men who rape them). Forty-five percent of Saudi executions are for non-violent drug crimes.

Saudi Uprisings

You rarely hear about Saudi Arabia’s long history of popular uprisings (and their brutal suppression) in the corporate media. The US first began collaborating with the Saudi royal family to suppress human rights in 1953, when Aramco (Arabian Oil Company workers) went on strike demanding a union. The US responded by establishing the US Training Mission in Saudi Arabia, which assisted the Saudi government in torturing and assassinating union leaders.

Saudi Arabia had their first failed revolution in 1962, when a Shia-led uprising demanded that oil profits be used to address poverty rather than to increase the wealth of American oil companies and the Saudi royal family.

Inspired by the 1979 revolution in Iran, rebels in the eastern Shia region of Saudi people launched massive street protests. These were crushed when the government tortured and assassinated key leaders and destroyed (via bombing) of dissident civilian enclaves.

The Saudi Arab Spring

Following the Arab Spring rebellions that blossomed in Tunisia and Egypt in 2011, there were Arab Spring rebellions in three major Saudi cities. The royal family responded by declaring martial law and banning any mainstream or social media favorable to the Arab Spring or unfavorable to the royal family. After arresting, torturing and/or assassinating of key organizers (and their families), the government immediately quadrupled their arms imports from the US.

The primary purpose of all this military hardware is to suppress dissent, not only in Saudi Arabia, but in Bahrain (the Saudi Army invaded Bahrain to suppress their Arab Spring uprising) and Yemen. Since April, 150,000 Saudi troops have invaded Yemen and killed 4,000 Yemenis – more than half of them civilians.

The 1945 Oil Protection Agreement

Martin also traces the history of the unique US-Saudi relationship, which started in 1945 with the signing of an official Oil Protection Agreement and the installation of a US naval base.

Dating back to 1988 the last four US presidents have had close business and personal relationships with the Saudi royal family. At present the Saudi princes are major donors to the Clinton Foundation.

12 thoughts on “Inside the Brutal Reality of Saudi Arabia

  1. Intellectually, I can parse the magnitude of the nightmare-world we live in, the reality of places like Saudi Arabia and what makes such dystopias possible.

    On the whole and in many of the details, I ‘get’ what is wrong and have a notion of what would put things right, and what both this blog and Martin are doing is absolutely necessary to nudge that along.

    Emotionally, however, I cannot fathom the brutality of it all, of what humans can and do deliberately inflict upon other humans for the lust of power and wealth.

    The rulers are morally insane.


    • I share many of the same feelings, Norman. I suppose the reason such behavior is called “medieval” is because it was quite typical of European society when it, too, was dominated by states controlled by fundamentalist religious fanatics. I shudder to think that many Christian fundamentalists seek to implement the same type of theocracy in the US.


    • No worries, Alan. I was getting a little fed up with all the corporate media hype about Syria’s “bloody dictator” that totally ignores US military support for a far worse despot in Saudi Arabia.


      • Stuart,
        You can delete this after reading… Just wanted to share my impression of a three-hour video at “Daniel Sheehan” (lawyer on Silkwood, Iran-Contra, Watergate, etc,) on YouTube on his initiative “New Paradigm Institute” in Berkely, CA regarding extraterrestrial species in the universe. He intends to gather the world’s leading scholars in theology, astrophysics, political science, etc, along with leaders of the world’s spiritual traditions, to discuss the ramifications of future or eventual contact with extraterrestrial beings. Knowing your friendship with Jim F., it seems that he’d be excited to interview Daniel Sheehan because of his (both of their) extraordinary life experiences – that is if he’s not already attempted to contact him for an interview… Anyway, the video was of one of those meetings where hundreds of people are on the phone lines listening, and the subject matter was astonishing. The initiative reminds one of my initiative for “Speaking For Humanity” asking for 5K essays for a book, but on a much larger, highly focused scale. It’s a long vid at 3 hours, but I think you (perhaps JF, also) would find it interesting. Thanks.


  2. Pingback: Inside the Brutal Reality of Saudi Arabia | canisgallicus

  3. Reblogged this on Worldtruth and commented:
    The KSA is one of the worst Human Rights violators on the planet and it’s self enriching monarchy is a puppet to the US – no wonder the US and KSA are such good “friends”(only as long as they serve US interests since the US has no friends, only sycophants to be trodden underfoot when they outlive their usefulness ).


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