The disappearance of Saudi Arabian citizen and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi has mobilized a range of condemnations directed at the Saudi regime in general and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in particular. While Khashoggi's disappearance (and suspected murder) is rightly condemned, details are still being revealed and debated. Recent reports indicate that the Saudi regime might acknowledge his detention and death, but frame his murder as an interrogation gone wrong. Many of those condemning the regime today include a cross-section of US government, think tank, and media personalities that are themselves guilty at best of ignoring, and at worse covering up, the authoritarian nature of the Saudi regime and the various forms of systematic violence it deploys (let alone the US role in propping up the regime, providing the means of that violence, and many times participating in the actual acts of violence). Personalities like Thomas Friedman are trying to walk back their previous support for the regime (however awkwardly and ineffectively), and outlets like the Washington Post and New York Times are now continuously covering Khashoggi’s disappearance and providing an unprecedented platform for criticizing the regime and questioning the US relationship with the kingdom.
The nature of the Saudi regime as authoritarian, brutal, and arbitrary is no secret to the thousands of intellectuals and activists, let alone millions of ordinary residents and citizens, living in and/or hailing from the kingdom. Kashoggi himself was for a long time part of the Saudi regime of power, and only recently fell out with its current top echelons (i.e., Mohammed bin Salman) and thus defected. Since the kingdom’s consolidation in 1932, thousands of Saudis have individually or collectively issued official statements and public pleas as part of their struggle for a better future, all the while bearing the brunt of this brutal regime. Furthermore, local, regional, and international organizations have issued countless reports on the regime’s domestic (and foreign) policies, while at the same time there has been a steady stream of critical scholarship on the regime (notwithstanding the apologists). Performing shock and surprise at the disappearance of Khashoggi belies these realities, and reveals those who claim the disappearance to be exceptional or beyond the pale as former apologists for the regime, opportunists in the current political moment, and/or simply indifferent to the fate of those they have no personal relationship with.
As an indication of the long record of Saudi activists and intellectuals speaking out against the regime, of regional and international organizations documenting the regime’s crimes, and of scholars analyzing the nature and trajectory of the Saudi regime, Jadaliyya presents a sampling of these voices, documents, and struggles. Yet such a listing is but the tip of a much louder collective scream of Saudis (both past and present) that live with realities of this regime and struggle against it in various ways.
Starting with the Basics
Seventy Years of the New York Times Describing the Saudi Royals as Reformers
On the Nature of Current Saudi Leadership
How Mohammed bin Salman Transformed Saudi Arabia
On the Rhetoric of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf Cooperation Council Crisis
Saudi Arabia’s Reforms Expand the Space for Women, but Still Deny Them a Voice of Their Own
The Empty Promise of State-Sponsored Feminism in Saudi Arabia
The Politics of Unveiling Saudi Women: Between Postcolonial Fantasies and the Surveillance State
The Saudi PR Machine in the US: An Interview with Lee Fang
Saudis and Others Speak Out
Stand with Saudi Feminists
يوم عالمي للتضامن مع النسويات السعوديات
MESA Committee on Academic Freedom Protesting the Arrest of Dr. Hatoon al-Fassi
MESA Committee on Academic Freedom Demanding Release of Human Rights Activist al-Qahtani
Human Rights Watch Briefing of Saudi Arabia’s New “Terrorism Laws”
Saudi Human Rights Defenders on Hunger Strike After One Year in Prison
One Hundred Arab Intellectuals Demand Release of Palestinian Poet Ashraf Fayadh
مئة مفكر ومفكرة يطالبون باطلاق سراح الشاعر الفلسطيني أشرف فياض من السجن في المملكة العربية السعودية
بيان الشباب السعودي
ثوار السعودية: مقابلة مع منظمي صفحة ثوار المنطقة الشرقية
War Against Activists: Turning Saudi Arabia into A Big Prison
On the Historical Nature of the Saudi Regime
Quick Thoughts on Saudi Arabia’s Transition and Beyond: A Conversation with Toby Jones
Political Imaginaries in Saudi Arabia: Revolutionaries without A Revolution
Saudi Arabia’s Silent Protests
The Property Regime: Mecca and the Politics of Redevelopment in Saudi Arabia
In the Service of the Whole Community? Civic Engagement in Saudi Arabia (1950s - 1960s)
من يملك دولة أرامكو؟
Longer Reads: An Abridged Bibliography on Saudi Arabia
Adnan, Ahmad. Al-Sajin 32: Ahlam Muhammad Sa‘id Tayyib wa haza’ima [Prisoner 32: The dreams of Muhammad Sa‘id Tayyib and his defeats]. 2nd ed. Casablanca, Morocco: al-Markaz al-Thaqafi al-‘Arabi, 2011.
Al-‘Awwami, ‘Ali Baqir. Al-Haraka al-wataniyya sharq al-Sa‘udiyya, 1953–1973 [The nationalist movement in eastern Saudi Arabia, 1953–1973], 2 vols. Beirut: Riad al-Rayyes Books, 2012.
Al-Hamad, Turki. Al-Karadib [The prison cells]. Beirut: Dar al-Saqi, 1998.
Al-Qasibi, Ghazi Abdulrahman. Al-‘Usfuriyya [Madhouse]. Beirut: Dar al-Saqi, 2006.
Al-Rasheed, Madawi. Salman's Legacy: The Dilemmas of a New Era in Saudi Arabia. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.
———. Contesting the Saudi State: Islamic Voices from a New Generation. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
———. A Most Masculine State: Gender, Politics, Religion in Saudi Arabia. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2013.
Al-Rasheed, Madawi and Robert Vitalis (eds.). Counter-Narratives: History, Contemporary Society and Politics in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. New York: Palgrave, 2004.
Bsheer, Rosie. “A Counterrevolutionary State: Popular Movements and the Making of Saudi Arabia,” Past and Present (Feb. 2018).
———. “Heritage as War,” Special Issue on Cultural Heritage in Crisis, International Journal of Middle East Studies 49 (4) October 2017.
———. “W(h)ither Arabian Peninsula Studies?” in Jens Hansen and Amal Ghazal (eds.), Handbook Of Contemporary Middle East And North African History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.
Citino, Nathan J. From Arab Nationalism to OPEC: Eisenhower, King Saud, and the Making of U.S.-Saudi Relations. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003.
El Fassi, Hatoon Ajwad, “Does Saudi Feminism Exist,” in Arab Feminisms: Gender and Equality in the Middle East. London: I.B.Tauris, 2014.
Farquhar, Michael. Circuits of Faith: Migration, Education, and the Wahhabi Mission. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2017.
Hanieh, Adam. Capitalism and Class in the Gulf Arab States. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.
Hertog, Steffen. Princes, Brokers, and Bureaucrats: Oil and the State in Saudi Arabia. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2011.
Jones, Toby C. Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010.
La Croix, Stephane. Awakening Islam: The Politics of Religious Dissent in Saudi Arabia. Cambrdige, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011.
Le Renard, Amelie. A Society of Women: Opportunities of Place, Power and Reform in Saudi Arabia. Stanford University Press, 2014.
Menoret, Pascal. Joyriding in Riyadh: Oil, Urbanism, and Road Revolt. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.
Mouline, Nabil. The Clerics of Islam: Religious Authority and Political Power in Saudi Arabia. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011.
Munif, Abdelrahman. Cities of Salt. Vintage: 1989.
———. East of the Mediterranean. Beirut: Saqi, 2007.
Okruhlik, Gwen. “Rentier Wealth, Unruly Law, and the Rise of the Opposition: the Political Economy of Oil States.” Comparative Politics 31, no. 3 (April 1999): 295–315.
Samin, Nadav. Of Sand Or Soil: Genealogy And Tribal Belonging In Saudi Arabia. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2015.
Vitalis, Robert. America’s Kingdom: Mythmaking on the Saudi Oil Frontier. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2007.