Challenging ‘the Foreign Policy of the One Percent’

April 1, 2016

 

Secretary_Kerry_Greets_Saudi_King_Salman_As_He_Arrives_At_Andrews_Air_Force_Base_Before_Meeting_With_President_Obama_(20936727868)

Sec. of State John Kerry Greets King Salman at Andrews Airforce Base. Photo by Department of State

 

By Peter Bogdanich

April 1st, 2016

On March 5th and 6th, over two hundred scholars, activists, and concerned citizens gathered at the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law in Washington, DC, for CODEPINK’s 2016 Summit on Saudi Arabia.

This first of its kind event brought 20 speakers together for six panel discussions on topics including U.S. arms sales, human rights, migrant labor, and the broad implications of Saudi foreign policy. Participants also used the forum to brainstorm new strategies for supporting positive change in the country.

As author Vijay Prashad summarized in his keynote address, big business interests historically determined the nature of the U.S.-Saudi relationship. From the discovery of oil in the early 20th century to multi-billion dollar arms sales in the 21st, incredible profits made it easy for those in positions of power to argue that this partnership was vital to maintaining American security and prosperity.

New_Saudi_Arabia's_traffic_sign_(women2drive)

Image by Carlos Latuff

But as more Americans examine the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia, more are beginning to see it as problematic rather than helpful. More are beginning to realize that unquestioning U.S. support for Saudi Arabia is undermining values that many American voters care about – democracy, freedom, and human rights. This brings us to a question that was the focal point of the two-day summit: how can ordinary Americans and people living in the U.S. change our relationship with Saudi Arabia while encouraging respect for human rights there?

With Saudi Arabian representatives spending lavishly on Washington PR firms and think-tanks to whitewash the government’s reputation here, many panelists agreed that spreading awareness of human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia might be the most effective tactic.

It was Daniel Arshack, the American lawyer for imprisoned Saudi human rights attorney Waleed Abulkhair, who best summed up this sentiment: “What can we do in the face of such clear injustice? For one thing, we must not allow our own government, indeed the majority of the international community, to turn a blind eye to the Saudi government’s flagrant violation of human rights.” CODEPINK’s Summit on Saudi Arabia is an important first step in that direction.

 

Peter Bogdanich is a research associate with Freedom Forward, an organization focused on ending U.S. support for dictators, kings, and repressive governments.


Meet Freedom Forward Adviser Rahim Kurwa:

December 30, 2015

Profile-RahimKurwa-FF-croppedRahim Kurwa is a member of the steering committee of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. He previously served for four years on the steering committee of the National Students for Justice in Palestine.

Mr. Kurwa is a doctoral candidate in Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he studies the transition in federal housing policy from traditional public housing to housing choice vouchers. His academic focus is on locational outcomes of tenants moving between these programs, the social consequences attached to their movement, and the broader public discourse around the voucher program and its participants.


Introducing Adviser Dr. Sa’ed Adel Atshan

December 13, 2015

Please join Freedom Forward in welcoming Dr. Sa’ed Adel Atshan to our Advisory Board.

11165093_731603034532_718240960252004429_oDr. Sa’ed Adel Atshan is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at Swarthmore College. He has conducted research on the politics of humanitarian aid provision in the Palestinian Territories. Dr. Atshan has worked with a range of organizations that include Human Rights Watch, the American Civil Liberties Union, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Seeds of Peace International Camp, the Palestinian Negotiations Affairs Department, and the Government of Dubai.

Dr. Atshan holds a BA in Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies from Swarthmore College, an MPP from the Harvard Kennedy School, and an MA and PhD in Anthropology and Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University. He completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University.

Dr. Atshan has won awards and fellowships from the National Science Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, Social Science Research Council, and the Paul and Daisy Soros Foundation. He was also awarded a Kathryn Davis Fellowship for Peace.


Meet Freedom Forward Adviser Nafisa Haji:

December 7, 2015

Nafisas-Author-Photo (1)Freedom Forward is excited to welcome Nafisa Haji to our Board of Advisers.  Ms. Haji is a novelist and educator.  She is the author of “The Sweetness of Tears” (HarperCollins, 2011) and “The Writing on My Forehead” (William Morrow, 2009).

Ms. Haji was born and mostly raised in Los Angeles, and has lived in Chicago, Karachi, Manila, and London. Her family originally migrated from Bombay to Karachi in 1947 during Partition, when the Indian Subcontinent was divided into two states, and later to the United States.  Ms. Haji previously taught elementary school in downtown Los Angeles for seven years in a bilingual Spanish program, and speaks Spanish fluently. She has served on the board at the Marin Interfaith Council, where she represented the International Association of Sufism. She holds a BA in American History from the University of California at Berkeley and a PhD in Education from the University of California at Los Angeles.


Is the Ironman Triathlon Becoming a Sport for Dictators?

December 4, 2015

By Peter Bogdanich

December 4, 2015

This Saturday, the U.S. triathlon promoter Ironman will hold its first competition in the Middle East. But by choosing Bahrain as its host, Ironman is teaming up with a royal family that has arrested top athletes and thousands of others who called for political reforms.

Bahrain_map_-_2 (1)Ironman’s half-marathon “Middle East Championship” is set for December 5th in Bahrain, an island monarchy located off the coast of Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf. The local partner for the event, Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad al-Khalifa, is a prince who stands accused of calling for and overseeing the arrest of major Bahraini athletes who participated in demonstrations for democracy and reform.

In February of 2011, thousands of Bahrainis took to the streets of the capital city to call for democratic reforms in largely peaceful protests. Security forces responded with tanks, tear gas, and live ammunition. Dozens of peaceful protesters were killed, and thousands were subjected to arbitrary arrest.

Bahrain_crackdown_Nuwaidrat_14_feb._2011

2011 Bahrain protests. Photo by Lewa’a Alnasr.

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2016: Freedom Forward is back.

November 24, 2015

Freedom Forward will officially relaunch in 2016.

Keep your eyes on this page as we revamp our website.

We will soon begin the transition from our online blog of prior years to a new project that engages people across the U.S. in campaigns to end our government’s alliances with dictators, kings, and nondemocratic governments.

Learn more about our goals.  And stay tuned.


About Freedom Forward

November 24, 2015

Freedom Forward seeks an end to U.S. support for dictators, kings, and nondemocratic governments. We envision a world in which U.S. foreign policy is fully aligned with the hopes and aspirations of people who desire freedom.

For too long, U.S. foreign policy has directly contradicted U.S. government rhetoric. While U.S. officials talk about freedom, the U.S. government maintains alliances with other governments that brutalize critics and silence dissent at home.

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