Samah Hadid, the deputy director of Amnesty International, said that most human rights activists in the country were either in prison or on trial, their whereabouts still undisclosed. The others, she added, risk arrest at any time. MBS is clearly remaking Saudi Arabia in his image, while proving to be just as authoritarian as the rulers before him.
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As painful as Zarrab’s testimony must have been for some in Ankara, the revelations seem to have done little to rock the foundations of the current Turkish government, and Erdogan’s hold on power looks secure. However, the case comes amid the worst deterioration of US-Turkish relations for decades, and its fallout is unlikely to be over.
When the revolution erupted, however, everything changed. He would regularly perform in the square, and his songs were seen as embodying many of the values of the uprising. He soon became one of the artists of the revolution, his voice instantly recognizable to the hundreds of thousands of people who had taken to the street.
In the 2018 presidential elections, there seems to be no major role for Sabahi. The candidate with political views closest to his own is Khaled Ali, also part of the leftist camp and present during Sabahi’s speech at the SPAP conference in September. However, it would not be the first time that internal divisions pulled the leftist opposition apart.
It appears that not even prison can make Sik compromise his ideals. In his opening court statement, which he gave on 26 July 2017, he blasted Erdogan for persecuting those who think for themselves. He then declared that journalism is not a crime despite what the rulers of totalitarian regimes, their judiciaries and collaborators may say.
Whatever the case, such dramatic changes come at a price. The crown prince is consolidating power to a degree Saudi Arabia has not seen in generations. MBS has dismantled that system, alienating almost everyone and fundamentally altering the governance dynamics of the kingdom. By consolidating power, MBS seems to be offering a larger degree of social freedom, but there can surely be little room for dissent during this mega-transformation.