The protesters gathered in the eastern city of Qatif to demand the release of prisoners they say are held without trial.
Saudi Arabia, a US ally, has escaped protests like those in Egypt, Tunisia and now in Libya, but dissent is building up as unrest has spread in neighboring Libya, Bahrain, Jordan and Oman.
Press TV interviewed Professor, Paul Sheldon Foote of California State University regarding the uprisings in Saudi Arabia and how the US might react.
Press TV: Could we say that the US is caught in, as some are saying, “embarrassing” situation with regard to Saudi Arabia? And as you know, Saudi Arabia is one of the strongest allies of the US in the Middle East and at the same time one of the countries that has the least rights, especially in terms of women’s rights and social and political reforms?
Foote: The Americans have put Saudi Arabia in a very embarrassing situation when you have the State Department spokesman P. J. Crowley saying it is a universal right to have protests, even in Saudi Arabia, after religious leaders in Saudi Arabia saying it is un-Islamic and the interior minister saying that it can’t be done. The embarrassment is even worse, there are reports that the US has asked Saudi Arabia to arm the Libyan revolution against Gaddafi to bring down another Arab leader. Patrick Buchannan yesterday posted an article saying, “This is their war not ours,” pointing out that there have been more elections in Iran than in all Arab countries combined and yet the Zionists and neo-conservatives keep wanting to attack Iran.
Robert Baer years ago wrote a book called Sleeping with the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude. This kind of attack on Saudi Arabia is beyond belief. We are putting the Saudis in a very difficult situation, which they should be in, all to save America’s name and pretend with the American voters that we actually support democracy, when in fact we don’t.
Press TV: We are getting reports that forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi are launching air strikes on areas held by the revolutionary forces to try and push them out of cities that they have under their control. A lot of people are criticizing the stance that the US has been taking on Libya. Why don’t we see practical steps on the part of the US to try and stop these air strikes on Libyan people?
Foote: There has been a real division between the secretary of defense and the American military and some of the senators have been pushing for this. A no-fly zone would be extremely expensive, with one analyst saying it would cost one billion to billion and half a year. We would have to bomb airplanes, radar facilities, and so forth. Just a week ago, secretary of deafens said it would be insane to be involve in land wars in Asia or in Middle East. Unfortunately, at the same time you have both Democratic and Republican senators who are campaigning for this. So there are debates going on in Washington, they can’t decide which way to go and meanwhile they are getting the Saudis to do the dirty work for them; they are putting the Saudis in a more precarious situation.
Press TV: An assessment that is being made is that the US would want to make sure that Gaddafi is going to go before it takes action; however, the delay that we are getting from the international community on how they should respond to the Libya crisis is not working for the protesters there, is it?
Foote: For the American response, as Patrick Buchannan pointed out in his article, we are repeating undeclared acts of war. We want President [Obama] to get us into war without the approval of the American people. I am a Vietnam veteran and I saw this with the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. American political leaders love these kinds of incidents, be it a no fly zone over Iraq and suddenly that became a war in Iraq. Imposing sanctions on Iran, Libya or anywhere else, is acts of war. Where is the approval of the American people for acts of war? No-fly zones are acts of war. Let’s be honest about it. Why do we let a bunch of war-mongers get us involved in one war after another? We are having demonstrations about budget crisis in this country and people should be focusing on ending the wars and not getting involved in another war.