Saudi Visit Tests Bush Credibility

Remember the promise President Bush made during his inaugural address:

“America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains…. All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.” — President Bush, 1/20/05

The case at hand:

“In March 2004, Saudi authorities arrested 13 people in several cities for circulating a petition calling for a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament, and signaling their intent to form an independent human rights organization. The government released 10 of them after compelling them to sign an agreement that they would cease their public petitioning. Three of the men — Matruk al-Falih, Ali al-Domaini, and Abdullah al-Hamid — refused to sign the statement, and remain in prison facing charges of ‘issuing statements’ and ‘using Western terminology’ in calling for reform.” — Human Rights Watch, 4/24/05

This is precisely the case that President Bush described in his inaugural address. Human Rights Watch yesterday appealed to the president to call for the prisoners’ release when Saudi crown prince Abdullah Ibn Abdul Aziz visits Bush’s Texas ranch today. Likewise, Amnesty International noted that “it should be clear to all that Saudi Arabia, a heralded U.S. ally in the war on terror, has no qualms about terrorizing its own citizens.”


President Bush’s credibility on Middle East reform is at stake today. Will he live up to his lofty rhetoric? Check back with ThinkProgress — we’ll update after their meeting.