Homeland Security

Our Friends the Saudis

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

This “country” should have vanished on Sept. 12, 2001, its desert “monarchy” deposed, its oil fields internationalized and a cordon thrown around its export of radical Wahhabist Islam:

Five bodies hang from a pole suspended between two cranes, a public display which serves as a reminder to those who might contemplate a life of crime. They belonged to a gang of five robbers, all of whom were publicly beheaded before their corpses were hoisted high in the air, where they remained for days. The gruesome sight is one scene in a shocking documentary to be aired this week which sheds light on life in Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s bloodiest and most secretive countries.

The film, Saudi Arabia Uncovered, contains harrowing footage of beheadings. A woman dressed in black is held down at the side of a public road by four Saudi policemen, after she has been convicted of killing her stepdaughter. She is executed with a sword blow to the neck, as she screams: ‘I did not do it.’

We have all heard of the brutality of the Saudi regime, but what makes this documentary so chilling is that we see it on camera. In another beheading scene, the executioner, dressed in the white robes typically worn by Saudi men, raises his curved sword above his head and brings it down in a single sweep.

The documentary introduces viewers to a large public space nicknamed Chop Chop Square because it is the site of so many executions in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. The camera lingers on the red-stained drainage system used to wash away the blood of those executed.

Police are seen brandishing whips against women, who are considered second-class citizens. At one point they brutally knock a woman to the ground and you hear her scream. In a similar vein, a male supermarket customer pushes a female shopper to the floor for no apparent reason. He then walks past her, oblivious to her anguish, as she scurries terrified out of his way.

What the film makes abundantly clear is that the country is a murderous dictatorship which refuses to tolerate dissent.

The Bush administration’s reaction to 9/11 looks ever more foolish. And let us not even speak of the Obama administration. The next president really does have a change to remake the world order — will he or she take it?