Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is planning a visit to the United States early this year and, in order to discuss “ways to continue advancing shared priorities, including enhancing security and prosperity in the Middle East.” Another aspect of this visit is that Prince Salman is planning on visiting The Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In the past, they have cooperated on issues such as cybersecurity, technology, and economic development. Saudi Aramco is also a founding member of the MIT Energy Initiative, and Saudi Arabia has an active partnership with the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), which it should terminate, due to Saudi’s human rights violations. This is nothing more than a veiled way to have the two leaders discuss more weapons deals, and more military cooperation.
Saudi Arabia has a record of flouting international norms, its own religious values, and basic human rights law. Dreadful treatment of women, drastic economic inequality, a government-controlled judiciary, dreadful treatment of minorities, funding terrorism and extremism across the globe…one could list its offenses for hours. Saudi Arabia played a leading role in the coalition formed in 2012 to destabilize the Syrian regime and provide various diplomatic, logistical, and military support to the Syrian rebels, which include many jihadist groups. Saudi Arabia also has allied with Israel in order to marginalize Iran and dominate the Middle East region.” More recently, Saudi Arabia has yet again violated human rights: The War in Yemen.
Since 2015, Saudi Arabia has been intervening in the Yemen civil conflict and bombarding the country, claiming that the Houthi rebels are in alliance with Iran. This has caused the destruction of Yemen’s cultural heritage and the deaths of numerous Yemenis, including children, along with famine and a cholera epidemic. Tens of thousands of civilians have died, 22 million civilians are threatened by famine, and over one million cases of cholera have been reported. As of now, 2 million Yemenis are internally displaced, living in squalid conditions, lacking basic amenities such as running water and healthcare.
The Saudi Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, reportedly disruptive and power hungry, has been supported by the United States, who is selling weaponry to them, in order to further fuel the military-industrial complex at home. Dozens of hospitals, marketplaces, farms, bridges, and refugee camps have been intentionally targeted, civilian bombings have become commonplace, and the Saudi-led blockade of Yemen’s main container port have made it all but impossible to get food, clean water, and much needed humanitarian and medical aid to civilians who live in the Middle East’s poorest nation.
Saudi Arabia has a horrific track record, especially regarding its support for sectarian extremist groups, its unseemly human rights record, its deadly military interventions in Bahrain, Yemen, and Syria, its support for despotic regimes, its collaboration with Israel and other countries pushing for war with Iran and its support for destructive U.S. military interventions. Since the beginning of the Arab Spring in 2011, crackdowns against political reformists, peace activists, and humanitarian aid activists have become commonplace, and many of them have been arrested, or have had their passports confiscated, effectively condemning them to stay in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi oil has served as the personal wealth of the country’s monarchy and its numerous princes, and wealthy Saudis have used that wealth to fund the global spread of Wahhabism through the building of mosques, madrassas, and charities across the world. No churches, however, are allowed on Saudi soil, despite the presence of a diplomatic community and numerous migrant workers. Saudi Arabia’s strongest institutions are the monarchy, military, and religious authorities, whose interpretation of Islam includes second-class citizenship for women, no rights for non-Muslims, and medieval forms of punishment.
It is inappropriate for U.S. universities to be supportive of key institutions in Saudi Arabia’s military infrastructure. We call upon The Massachusetts Institute of Technology to cancel the invitation it extended to Prince Salman, and to cease its cooperation with Saudi defense, tech, and economic sectors. By collaborating with Saudi Arabia in those domains, MIT is not only betraying American values, but also abetting a regime that oppresses not only its own citizens, but also those of Yemen, an already impoverished and unstable nation.
Furthermore, it is inappropriate for the United States to collaborate with Saudi Arabia, given its history of violence and human rights violations. The United States constantly declares that it is fighting a war against terrorism and that it wants to engage in “democracy promotion” to try to overthrow the governments of Cuba and Iran and Venezuela, but the U.S. has supported the brutal and authoritarian government of Saudi Arabia. In supporting Saudi Arabia, it is abetting the country that produced numerous members, supporters and funders of Al-Qaeda and ISIS. Saudi Arabia played a leading role in the coalition formed in 2012 to destabilize the Syrian regime and provide various diplomatic, logistical, and military support to the Syrian rebels, which include many jihadist groups.
Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s highly aggressive rhetoric regarding Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and other regional targets are disturbing, offensive, and have no place in our city.
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”
Dwight D. Eisenhower