London – “Al-Quds Al-Arabi”:
In the end, Saudi Arabia did not achieve what it wanted from the G20 summit, nor did its critics, but the hypothetical summit came as a gift to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who would have faced embarrassment had the leader or leaders of countries at the G20 decided to boycott it.
In the end, no one will lose from attending the summit via video screen, and they will not have to appear in an uncomfortable group photo, according to a report prepared by Ben Hubbard for the “New York Times” newspaper, which said that Saudi Arabia and human rights activists contested the image of Saudi Arabia in the G20 summit.
While Riyadh wanted to present a picture of the transformations that took place in the Kingdom since Muhammad bin Salman’s ascension to the mandate of the Covenant, and to give the rulers of countries an opportunity to experience the new life and encourage them to put Yemen and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the files of the past, critics took advantage of the golden opportunity and emphasized violations of rights People in the kingdom and pressure on world leaders embarrass the de facto ruler, Muhammad bin Salman.
But the summit, which started on Saturday and ended on Sunday, did not fulfill the hopes of the two teams. The reason is the Corona virus, which reduced the summit to a meeting via video screens on the Internet.
Bin Habard comments that this is not bad news for Mohammed bin Salman, despite activists’ attempts to call on leaders to boycott the summit.
“It was clear that it did not go as planned, but it was a gift,” says Karen Young of the Middle East Institute, adding that the summit, even in its hypothetical form, served the kingdom’s interests as a player on the international stage. “A hypothetical conference gives an image of Saudi power and prevents unforeseen incidents.” “.
In his opening speech, King Salman called on world leaders to provide the means for poor countries to combat the Coronavirus, and fighting the virus dominated the summit’s agenda. “We have to make sure that conditions and equal opportunities are provided for these tools and for all people,” the 84-year-old king said. Among the other issues at the summit, is exempting poor countries from debts due to the shattering of their economies in light of the epidemic and the proposal by the European Union to sign an international treaty on epidemics.
US President Donald Trump participated for a short time in the summit, where he appeared from the crisis room in the White House, but he was not among the participants in the side sessions, as he then continued his unfounded tweets about election theft and traveled to his golf club in Virginia.
Ben Hubbard said that the G20 is a forum made up of 19 huge economies with the European Union, and it meets annually to discuss the global economic situation. The presidency of the summit is exchanged annually between five groups. Saudi Arabia is part of a group with Canada, Australia, the United States, and was named to chair the summit for the first time in December, to be the first Arab country to host the summit.
Saudi Arabia celebrated the presidency as a recognition of the importance of the world’s largest oil exporter to the global economy, and an opportunity to showcase the social and economic changes called for by the crown prince, whose father took power in 2015.
Bin Habard refers to calls to diversify the Saudi economy, encourage tourism and entertainment, and lift the ban on women driving. On the other hand, there were the leaders of the Yemen war that led to the largest humanitarian disaster in the world, imprisoning preachers, human rights activists, and even members of the ruling family. In 2018, Saudi agents killed the journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul and cut his body, which led to the distortion of Mohammed bin Salman’s image and calls to punish him for this crime and other human rights violations.
Activists seized the opportunity of Saudi Arabia chairing the summit to demand a boycott or disclosure of human rights violations. Last month, Nobel Prize winner in economics Joseph Steblitz used a keynote speech about the summit organized by Saudi Arabia and requested a minute of silence to commemorate Khashoggi and the detained women who challenged the driving ban that was lifted in 2018 and many of them are still in prison.
“If this meeting does not deal with these and other human rights violations in other countries, then there is no hope for achieving an inclusive society on which we all work,” Stepleitz said. Activists seized on the economic thinker’s call, but it was not published on the summit’s news website and its activities. The mayors of London, New York and Los Angeles refused to participate in an event related to the conference, while human rights activists organized an alternative summit in which they discussed human rights violations in Saudi Arabia.
In Saturday’s session, a journalist tried to ask Saudi Investment Minister Khalid Al-Falih if negative news about the kingdom was a factor preventing investors from investing in Saudi Arabia. The session chair tried to dismiss the question, but Al-Falih responded to the question, saying: “Investors are not journalists … Investors are looking for countries that trust their governments and have an appropriate mechanism for economic decision-making.”
Diplomats from the countries that participate in the summit said that they raise the issue of human rights directly with the Saudis, but they believed that the summit is important and cannot be missed.
Adam Coogle, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa at Human Rights Watch, said that the answer they were getting was: “Some people said, ‘This is very important and we have strategic plans for Covid and to address economic issues,’” while others said that “Saudi Arabia’s receiving this reward is worrying.” .
The newspaper did not receive responses from spokesmen for the French and British foreign ministries if the human rights issue was part of their decision to participate. “The killing of Jamal Khashoggi was a heinous crime and we repeatedly demanded justice for it,” the British government media official said, noting that the foreign minister raised the issue during his visit to Riyadh in March.
And Coogle expressed his surprise at the slogan of the G20 summit, which is empowering women, at a time when prominent Saudi women were imprisoned or pushed into exile or silence. Their topic needs attention and cannot be “pulled under the carpet”.
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