A young Saudi prince, Majed Abdulaziz Al-Saud, has apparently fled to the Wahhabi kingdom on his private jet after a bleeding woman was found trying to escape from his Los Angeles mansion. She filed sexual assault charges against him, claiming her injuries were sustained when he tried to force her to give him a blow job. Other alleged female victims have since detailed a three-day orgy of violence. But what are the chances they will have their day in court? The prince will certainly not be compelled by the Saudi royal family to return; and we can be equally sure that Washington will not hold its Saudi masters to account for facilitating his escape. Two Nepalese women imprisoned as sex slaves by a sadistic Saudi diplomat in New Delhi are unlikely to see justice either. Locked in his luxury flat for months, they were starved, tortured, raped and sodomised. The police described it as an open-and-shut case. But a few weeks ago he, too, was flown back to the Land of the Two Holy Mosques.
Both these scumbags should be quite happy to be back in Saudi Arabia, where maids from impoverished countries, and western women who work in Saudi homes, have long complained of sexual harassment. During dinner at a Saudi friend’s house in Jeddah, my host — the gentle, pious son of a general in the Saudi army — told me his college friends were ‘giving him hell’ because he wouldn’t let them have their way with his adolescent Filipina maid. They simply could not fathom his refusal. That was a decade or so ago, and that generation of brats are now the sexually warped, slave-owning Saudi princes and diplomats as ubiquitous around the globe as the hate-preachers they fund.
Saudi sexual depravity has been the stuff of legend for decades. Today, however, there are so many scandalous cases that it is difficult to keep track. One Saudi man has been questioned about an assault on an 11-year-old girl in London, and another arrested in the Philippines on human-trafficking charges. Both were freed, like the New Delhi monster, after claiming diplomatic immunity. Another, this time in cahoots with one of his wives, has evaded a litany of charges for enslaving a group of women in London.
The recent upsurge in Saudi sex-and-slave scandals is one consequence of the death of King Abdullah in January, and the ascension to the throne of his half-brother Salman. For the first time since King Fahd, who spent most of his time whoring and gambling in Beirut, popped his clogs, the Al-Sudairi branch of the Saudi ruling family are back in charge. Under the (relatively) austere Abdullah, who hailed from a different branch of the family, Saudi scions had to watch their backs. Now there are no restraints on the most debauched and corrupt ruling clique since the Borgias.
The failure of the international community to take a stand suggests that the brazen exploitation of diplomatic immunity has instilled in the Saudi royals a greater sense of impunity than ever. Even the most deranged liberal cheerleader of the Arab Spring could not sensibly envisage the emergence of a liberal, progressive regime to replace them. Indeed, with the rise of the Islamic State, the West is more terrified than ever that the House of Saud may fall. The jihadists have made no secret of their desire to see an Arabia without Saudi princes. And the kingdom is such a mishmash of tribal and sectarian hatreds and divisions that, were an uprising to occur, the chaos that would ensue would dwarf the combined slaughter of Iraq, Libya and Syria. The ramifications on the global economy of the loss of the Saudi oilfields, and the ensuing battle between Isis and Iran (and the West) for control, are likewise incalculable. Jordan and Bahrain, both Saudi client states, would fall within days.
The Saudis, in short, have us pinned over the proverbial barrel. There is a tragic irony in that fact. For it was funding from Saudi Arabia that, in no small part, was responsible for creating the jihadist groups in Syria that morphed into Isis. The jihadists’ ideology is barely distinguishable from Riyadh’s Wahhabi religious establishment. And the jihadists also spend much of their spare time raping and enslaving non-believing women they happen across. Given this appalling state of affairs, one can but marvel at the Al-Sauds’ extraordinary capacity to survive. Last week, it was announced that the Wahhabi kingdom will head an important UN human rights committee. But instead of greeting the news with the howls of derision it merited, western leaders extended hearty congratulations.
John R. Bradley’s books include Saudi Arabia Exposed: Inside a Kingdom in Crisis.