HomeForeignSaudi Arabia Arrests Critics Of Israel's War On Gaza

Saudi Arabia Arrests Critics Of Israel’s War On Gaza

Saudi Arabia has reportedly stepped up arrests of its citizens over social media posts relating to the war on Gaza, despite Riyadh having no relations with Israel.

Saudis have been detained over online comments – some dating back a decade – amid an already restricted environment for political expression in the country, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.

The arrests were motivated by “security concerns” linked to the events of 7 October in Israel and Gaza and the aftermath, Bloomberg said citing Riyadh-based diplomats and human rights groups.

Israel’s war on Gaza, which has killed over 34,500 people – the majority of whom were women and children – has triggered a wave of popular anti-Israel sentiment across the region with large-scale protests in the US, UK and elsewhere.

Riyadh and its regional allies, including Egypt and Jordan, have clamped down on protests in their own countries with fears that pro-Palestine rallies could reignite uprisings against authorities in those countries.

“Memories of the Arab Spring more than a decade ago remain fresh among regional rulers, who are desperate to avoid a repeat,” the report said.

Sources told Bloomberg that the recent wave of arrests in Saudi Arabia reached an executive in a company involved in the kingdom’s Vision 2030 economic plan – a cornerstone of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s agenda.

The detainee reportedly shared views on the war on Gaza which were deemed by authorities to be “incendiary”, the sources said.

Another arrest targeted a media figure who had called for the boycott of American fast food chains in Saudi Arabia and reportedly said that Israel should “never be forgiven” and must face trial for its war crimes in Gaza, according to the sources.

Another source told the outlet that the Saudi government was attempting to deter people from making social media posts about the war that may impact Saudi “national security”.

The New Arab has contacted the Saudi embassy in London for comment.

The report comes as Saudi Arabia and Israel take steps through an agreement brokered by Washington.

The Biden administration has been talking with Saudi Arabia and Israel on a potential peace agreement since before 7 October and talks have continued during Israel’s war on Gaza but there appear to be still stumbling blocks to an agreement.

While negotiations with Riyadh were still underway, an agreement could potentially see the US supply technology to help develop nuclear power in Saudi Arabia in return for normalisation with Israel.

Meanwhile, Saudi opposition figures and activists are holding on Thursday a conference in the US during which they are expected to unveil “The People’s Vision” for the kingdom to prioritise free speech, the right to assembly, and a call for the release of all political prisoners.

THE NEW ARAB

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