Hillary Clinton Missed Chance To Fight for Saudi Woman’s Rights

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton addresses supporters at a 'Latinos for Hillary' grassroots event October 15, 2015 in San Antonio, Texas.
Erich Schlegel/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton appeared to have little interest in advancing the cause of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia during her tenure, according to recently released State Department emails.

In 2011, brave Saudi woman’s rights activist named Manal al-Sharif launched a campaign for women to obtain the right to drive in the country.

Al-Sharif,  of course, was quickly arrested by Saudi authorities. On May 23, 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton received a detailed email from Anne-Marie Slaughter, then Director of Policy Planning at the State Department, concerning the case.

Slaughter wrote a detailed email to Clinton, noting “if the U.S. does not [condemn the Saudi action] women around the world will draw their own conclusions about what our real interests are.” Hillary did not directly respond to the email and simply forwarded the email  with an “FYI” to Melanne Verveer, who was United States Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues.

Although elevating the rights of women was a major focus during her tenure as Secretary of State, Hillary never said anything publicly about al-Sharif’s arrest, nor does she appear to have raised the matter with the Saudis. After al-Sahrif was released on May 31, 2011,  Hillary emailed Slaughter back.  The Secretary of State claimed “public comments by me would have hurt her and her cause. And we learned that women intended a big demo in June. So let’s hope change can even happen there—”

That approach seems to be out of step with Clinton’s outspoken attitude on the plight of women in other countries around the world during her tenure.

Questions have been raised about the large amounts of money the Saudi government has given to the Clinton Foundation over the years. Senator Rand Paul has recently called for the Clinton Foundation to return those donations in light of how the Saudi Kingdom treats women.

Did Saudi contributions to the Clinton Foundation buy Hillary Clinton’s silence?

All we can know is that Hillary was indeed silent about the plight of Saudi women and even behind the scenes demonstrated an apparent lack of interest in their plight.


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