Final Declaration of the Conference on
Saudi Arabia: Geopolitics in a troubled region
1st April 2017, London
Under the title “Saudi Arabia; Geopolitics in a troubled region” the conference was held on Saturday 1st April to mark two years of the Saudi-led war on Yemen and six years of Saudi military incursion into Bahrain. The conference was attended by informed politicians, academics and activists with interest in the region. The aim is to review Saudi domestic, regional and international policies that they developed over the past few years, especially in regards to war and peace, human rights, political reforms and modernisation and pan-Arab solidarity and priorities.
After a full day of discussions and deliberations, the following resolutions were made by the participants:
1- There is an urgent need for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire in Yemen. The Saudi-led coalition waging the war must be told in no uncertain terms to halt their daily bombings of the towns and cities of Yemen. All other issues must be discussed at the negotiation table.
2- The United Nations through the Security Council must establish immediately an independent inquiry into the conduct of the war, assess the culprits of war crimes, and the extent of the crimes by any party. The participants expressed repugnance at the rejection by the Saudis and their Western allies to form such inquiry in the past. The existing “inquiry” formed by the Saudi allies in Yemen has failed to perform objectively and independently; its reports are one-sided and does not reflect objectivity or sensitivity.
3- The land, sea and air blockade imposed by the Saudi-led coalition on Yemen must lifted immediately. It has throttled the country and its people and caused incalculable misery. It is responsible for the hunger, famine and disease that have spread across the countries. Up to 14 million face starvation as a result. Thousands of children have been killed by the indiscriminate daily bombings.
4- Arms flow to the Saudis and other fighting forces must be halted in light of the assertions by the UN, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch that they were used against civilian human and material targets. The insistence by the US and UK to continue arms supplies to the Saudis does not encourage them to cease hostilities or help political settlement. Continuing these supplies may make the suppliers complicit in the enormous war crimes being committed by the Saudi-led coalition.
5- The Saudi incursion into Bahrain has complicated the political situation in a country whose citizens rose up to demand their political rights. It is now six years since those troops helped to crush the popular movement which was one of the popular risings of the Arab Spring. It is time that Saudi and UAE troops are pulled out of that country to allow the people to choose their own political system.
6- The Human Rights situation in both Bahrain and Arabia is appalling. The denial of basic rights to women, the lack of public freedoms, the arbitrary detention of thousands of citizens, the extra-judicial killings, the levels of executions, the financial corruption resulting from the tribal dominance of Al Saud family, sectarianism and extremist ideologies are manifestations of the human rights crisis in the two kingdoms. These need immediate attention from the UN Human Rights Council, despite the rising Saudi influence among its files and ranks.
7- Minorities within the kingdom must be respected. Years of repression against those groups must come to an end. Non-Muslims as well Muslims who do not conform to the Wahhabi school of thought must be protected by the international community. The recent escalation of the killing spree in the Eastern Province must be halted immediately.
8- Matters relating to terrorism, extremism and sectarianism were ever present in the debate of the conference. Saudi hands are seen in those areas which have, in many cases, led to loss of lives at astronomical levels. Religious indoctrination of the yout both in Arabia and the West is part of the prevailing school of thought in Saudi Arabia. The world community is urged to ensure that the Saudis refrain from grooming tendencies that lead to fragmentation of the human society especially extremism and terrorism.
9- The international community must rise above the corrupt practices caused the use of the huge oil revenues as a weapon in the Saudi attempts to silence opponents at the international stage. Western leaders, politicians, journalists and human rights activists must be sheltered against the Saudi financial exploitation.
10- The participants call for the immediate release of human rights activists like Nabeel Rajab, Dr Abdul Jalil AlSingace and Abdul Hadi AlKhawaja of Bahrain and Raif Badawi, Abdulla Al Hamed and Abul Khair of Saudi Arabia. They salute the bravery of these activists and urge the West to embrace Arab activism that seeks to improve human rights and achieve democracy in Arabia.
11- The participants extend their thanks to the sponsors of the conference: Stop the War Coalition, Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), Sheba for Human Rights in Yemen, Bahrain Opposition Bloc, Aman Centre for Human Rights Watch (Saudi) and European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights (ESOHR)