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This article was originally published by Arab Centre Washington DC and is republished with their permission from http://arabcenterdc.org/policy_analyses/has-saudi-arabia-become-a-monarchy-of-fear/
The murder of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi reminded Americans that the United States remains aligned with Arab leaders who regularly repress, imprison, and kill opponents for expressing their political views. Khashoggi’s killing in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on October 2 was an especially gruesome crime. To be sure, Washington has often backed regimes that employ lethal violence on a far grander scale. Egypt’s current president, General Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, took power in a July 2013 military coup that ended the country’s brief and tumultuous democratic experiment. Less than a month later, Egyptian security forces slaughtered some 800 civilian protesters in Rabaa Square. Sisi’s government, backed by the judiciary, then proceeded to jail tens of thousands of Egyptians on vague or trumped-up charges. Yet President Barack Obama’s secretary of state, John Kerry, did not protest and even praised Sisi and his allies for “restoring democracy.” From a strictly moral point of view, then, was Kerry’s statement worse than President Donald Trump’s assertion that Khashoggi’s killing was probably the work of “rogue killers”? This assertion was taken up by Saudi leaders who proceeded to dismissalleged conspirators from their positions and imprison other collaborators—acts that are nevertheless seen by the world as only a cover-up for perfidious behavior by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Director, Democracy and Governance Studies, Georgetown University
On the afternoon of January 26, 2018 the Democracy and Governance Program at Georgetown University will host a special panel to celebrate what is for us a very special occasion: ten years as the only MA degree program in the US that focuses on democracy, human rights and governance. There is no doubt that the significance of our MA program has increased in direct proportion to the mounting challenges to democracies and democratization that have emerged in every corner of the globe – including the United States. Some of these challenges, as I discuss below, are relatively recent, such as the rising influence of “global autocracies.” Others, such as polarization of the US political arena, are not exactly new, as anyone who recalls the political and social conflicts that rocked in our country during the sixties and seventies. But in the context of growing authoritarian challenges abroad, intensified political conflict in the US is surely complicating the task of fostering democratic change abroad.