Thursday, June 26, 2003
Free at last: Wall Street Journal editorial writer William McGurn reports that Sarah Saga, an American woman who had taken refuge in the U.S. embassy in Saudi Arabia, has arrived in the United States. Unfortunately, without her kids.
So why did Ms. Saga agree to give up her kids? The answer is simple: her fear that her father would have her killed if she stayed. Even sympathetic Saudis, she says, told her there was no turning back, and she figured she was of better use to her children alive in America than dead in Saudi Arabia. "There was no choice," she says flatly.
Certainly Ambassador Jordan deserves full marks for sticking to his promise in what must have been trying circumstances. But as much as we celebrate Ms. Saga's deliverance, it should give us pause. Surely no American mother should be forced to choose between her children and her life and freedom. And exercising that freedom shouldn't require the combined efforts of this newspaper, daily exposure on the FOX News Channel and a desperate flight to a U.S. consulate. And notwithstanding the joint Saudi-State distaste for publicity, none of this would have happened too without the push by their joint nemesis, Pat Roush.
If things are to improve, the State Department must cease treating these matters as private disputes and beginning every explanation with the phrase "under Saudi law." As Ms. Saga notes, the Saudis take a different approach, actively lobbying her husband not to agree to let their children go to America. Under the status quo created by Saudi intransigence, not only are Americans denied their freedom but Americans and Saudis alike are denied any chance for civilized custody arrangements that would allow children to be with their Saudi fathers in Saudi Arabia and their American mothers in America. The sad fact is that State imposes no sanction on the Saudis for their outrageous behavior.
It's a small first step, but hopefully a sign of things to come.