Abdullah's ex-wife urged US help on captive daughters

Abdullah's ex-wife urged US help on captive daughters
Sat Mar 29, 2014 21:02:54

An ex-wife of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah who fled to Britain following her divorce has asked US President Barack Obama to help release her four daughters from house arrest in the Arab state during his visit to Riyadh on Friday.

“For 13 years, my daughters have been held captive,” said Alanoud al-Fayeze, as quoted in a AFP report on Friday.

“They need to be saved and released immediately. Mr. Obama should take this opportunity to address these grave violations committed against my daughters,” al-Fayeze added.

According to the report, the four women, who say they live in two mansions in a closed royal compound in the country’s second city Jeddah, are between 38 and 42, with at least one suffering from psychological problems.

“We have no passports or ID, we are under house arrest, with little food left for ourselves and [our] pets,” Princess Sahar, the eldest daughter, told AFP in a letter.

She said her three half-brothers are her legal guardians, and exercise total control over their movements and public activities, as allowed by Saudi law.

“On their orders, they have been literally starving us since last Wednesday. We are now living on one meal a day, leaving the little remaining meat for our pets and sipping little water in this heat, to save up. Our energy is quite low and we are trying our best to survive,” Sahar added.

Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, has denied the allegations, saying the princesses are allowed to freely move about Jeddah, as long as they are accompanied by bodyguards.

The ailing King Abdullah, officially 89 and perhaps older, has fathered at least 38 children from multiple wives.

He married al-Fayez, who is from a prosperous Lebanese family, when she was only 15. However, the two fell out at the beginning of this millennium, and after several reconciliations, al-Fayez reportedly escaped to the UK, fearing for her life.

She and her daughters claim they have been punished as a form of retribution. Sahar has also said that they are being punished for daring to criticize poverty and violations of human rights in the oil-rich state in front of their father.

It is not clear what, if anything, Obama, who visited Saudi Arabia for the first time since 2009, has done concerning the situation, considering the host of existing issues between the troubled allies.

According to press reports, however, Obama has failed to raise human rights issues with the Saudi dictator in a bid to avert further souring of ties between the two allies.

Riyadh has been quite upset by Obama’s reluctance to directly enter the Syrian conflict and has been alarmed by the apparent US rapprochement with Iran.

Obama and King Abdullah met on Friday on an opulent farm outside the capital, where the elderly monarch spoke while breathing through an oxygen tube. The content of their talks was not made public.

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