2016 Summit on Saudi Arabia


Dates: March 5- 6, 2016
Location: The UDC David A. Clarke School of Law (4340 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008)
CODEPINK, along with The Nation Magazine, Institute for Policy Studies, Peace Action, and many other organizations (see below), hosted a two-day summit examining the policies and practices of Saudi Arabia and U.S.-Saudi ties. This Summit addressed issues such as human rights; Saudi internal and foreign policy; and the prospects for change inside the kingdom and in U.S.-Saudi relations. Human rights advocates, diplomats, scholars, authors, and grassroots activists will come together in this first-of-its-kind international summit examining the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The Summit was attended by people who:
  • Would like to learn about the roots and spread of Islamic extremism.
  • Seek solutions to violence in the Middle East.
  • Support a US foreign policy that is based on respect for human rights.
  • Advocate against global weapons proliferation.


  • Jamal Abdi, Policy Director of National Iranian American Council
  • Ali Al-Ahmed, The Gulf Institute
  • Abdulaziz Al-Hussan, Saudi human rights lawyer
  • Mohammed Al-Nimr, son of Sheikh Nimr Al-Nimr
  • Mohammed Al-Shami, Yemeni activist and freelance consultant
  • Daniel Arshack, attorney for imprisoned Saudi lawyer
  • Kristine Beckerle, Human Rights Watch
  • Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK
  • Phyllis Bennis, author, Institute for Policy Studies
  • Sunjeev Bery, Amnesty International
  • William Hartung, weapons expert, Center for International Policy
  • Chris Hedges, author
  • Julianne Hill, legal fellow for Reprieve UK
  • Raed Jarrar, American Friends Service Committee
  • Sharat G. Lin, scholar on Middle Eastern migrant labor
  • Matar Ebrahim Matar, Bahraini politician and activist
  • Ebtihal Mubarak, Saudi journalist
  • Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini, Executive Director, International Civil Society Network (ICAN)  
  • Vijay Prashad, author and professor, Trinity College
  • Robert Vitalis, author and professor, the University of Pennsylvania 

And more! Find their bios here.


Saturday, March 5

8:00am-9:00am Registration

9:00am-9:30am Opening Session

  • Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK

9:30am-10:15am Session I: Saudi Politics and Overview

  • Ali Al-Ahmed, The Gulf Institute
  • Abdulaziz Al-Hussan, Saudi lawyer and human rights defender
  • Moderator: Medea Benjamin

10:20am-11:00pm Session II: Women in Saudi Arabia

  • Ebtihal Mubarak, Saudi journalist
  • Kristine Beckerle, Human Rights Watch
  • Moderator: Jodie Evans

11:00am-11:50am Session III: Human Rights

  • Sunjeev Bery, Amnesty International
  • Dr. Sharat G. Lin, scholar on Middle Eastern migrant labor
  • Julianne Hill, Reprieve U.S. Legal Fellow
  • Moderator: Andrea Miller

12-1pm Lunch Break & Keynote

  • Vijay Prashad, author and professor at Trinity College

1:15pm-2:15pm Session IV: Saudi Foreign Policy

  • Mohammed Al-Shami, Yemeni-American activist
  • Jamal Abdi, National Iranian American Council
  • Matar Matar, Bahraini politician and activist
  • Moderator: Joanne Landy

2:30pm-3:45pm Session V: Oil, weapons sales, and U.S.-Saudi ties

  • William Hartung, Center for International Policy
  • Raed Jarrar, American Friends Service Committee
  • Robert Vitalis, author and professor at University of Pennsylvania
  • Phyllis Bennis, Institute for Policy Studies

3:50pm-4:50pm Session VI: Supporting Change in Saudi Arabia

  • Mohammed Al-Nimr, son of executed Sheikh Nimr Al-Nimr
  • Daniel Arshack, lawyer for imprisoned attorney Waleed Abu al-Khair
  • Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini, Executive Director, International Civil Society Network (ICAN)
  • Moderator: Nada Khader

5pm-5:30pm Wrap Up

Food and conversation available at Italian Pizza Kitchen 4483 Connecticut Ave., NW Washington, DC 20008

7:00pm-9:00pm Wadjda film screening

Sunday, March 6

9:30am Check in

10:00am-11am Outlining and brainstorming campaigns (with open mic)

11am-12noon Breakout sessions, including:

  • supporting political prisoners
  • stopping weapons sales
  • getting 28 pages released
  • creating an international coalition
  • tracking/countering the Saudi lobby

12:00pm-12:30pm Report backs

12:30pm-1:30pm Lunch Break/Interest Groups

1:30pm-2:30pm Chris Hedges keynote

2:30pm-3:00pm Wrap-up



  • Campaign for Peace and Democracy
  • Center for Inquiry
  • Coalition to End the U.S.-Saudi Alliance
  • Fellowship of Reconciliation
  • Food Not Bombs
  • Friends Committee on National Legislation
  • Historians Against the War
  • Institute for Policy Studies
  • Just Foreign Policy
  • KnowDrones.com
  • Middle East Crisis Committee
  • Peace Action
  • People Demanding Action
  • Popular Resistance
  • RootsAction
  • The Gulf Institute
  • The Markaz
  • The Nation Magazine
  • U.S. Labor Against the War
  • United For Peace and Justice
  • United Methodist General Board of Church and Society
  • United National Anti-War Coalition
  • Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars
  • Veterans For Peace
  • Voices for Creative Nonviolence
  • WESPAC Foundation
  • WNY Peace Center
  • World Beyond War
  • WILPF DC Branch

More Info:

Press release can be found here.

To understand more about why CODEPINK stands against the Saudi regime, listen to CODEPINK co-founder, Medea Benjamin speak with United for Peace & Justice here.


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  • Adam stewart
    commented 2016-11-30 15:56:17 -0500
    Ohhh it was so informative and so inspiring summit in Saudi Arabia: http://www.assignmentking.co.uk/
  • Amy Simms
    commented 2016-10-23 06:22:52 -0400
    I used to live in Saudi Arabia as a young girl. I would be fascinated to learn more. I can’t attend the conference, but I would like to follow this event. Jill and Ajamu 2016! #redtogreenstate on Facebook
  • Virginia Meagher
    commented 2016-02-29 10:44:39 -0500
    Great! Amazing conference planned.
  • Hassanali Kessani
    commented 2016-02-11 02:33:31 -0500
    Cutis James I support you. The American Tax Payers money to Israel is just a Zionisim made up as usual to blind the world but actually the daily 8m $ to Israel is going through ME Petrodollars. Criminals of Arabia kingdoms and its throughout Princes must be dismantled.
    But USA and The West will suffer a great economical defeat as well.
    But the best point will be terrorism will be eliminated
  • Hassanali Kessani
    commented 2016-02-11 02:33:31 -0500
    Cutis James I support you. The American Tax Payers money to Israel is just a Zionisim made up as usual to blind the world but actually the daily 8m $ to Israel is going through ME Petrodollars. Criminals of Arabia kingdoms and its throughout Princes must be dismantled.
    But USA and The West will suffer a great economical defeat as well.
    But the best point will be terrorism will be eliminated
  • Curtis James
    commented 2016-02-10 19:08:06 -0500
    End USA tax payer support for Saudi Arabia. Call for the overthrow of the Royal criminal Saudi Family! American tax dollars for America not exporting of terrorism by Saudi Arabia world wide.
  • Rita Childers
    commented 2016-02-10 15:20:38 -0500
    Very educational, thank you for your hard work.
  • Hassanali Kessani
    commented 2016-02-05 14:43:17 -0500
    Mike West, pointed a rough finger towards my comment, but I won’t be rough like him though I have every right to be; but Islam taught us to be patience as The World People are not easy because are fed up with Satan and its False Flags at all the time, but only Intelligent can understand the TRUTH.
    By saying, Age Enlightenment and just going beyond 300 years when USA formed by usurping Red Indian Apache Lands (a live example of today’s Palestine) is not something to be talked off.
    God is what MISSING from everyone’s mind (a Satanic Act) but, yet proud to be Atheists?! Not good idea if someone ponders into himself or herself, just in one part called cornea, located into The Eye! How can one can see all around with this tiny pupil? Who dares to make such material? Scientists? Evolutionary People? Or Big Bang ?
    Is enough for an Intelligent to understand The Power of God, which will be Never Seen throughout but Has sent his Messengers (in Human Format to be understood by Humans) well, here The Satan will never allow The Stupid to digest this Truth!
  • Mike West
    commented 2016-02-05 10:22:01 -0500
    To Hassanali Kessani: At what point in your education did you miss learning about the Age of Enlightenment? (Hint: You can look it up online! Imagine that!) In brief, the Age of Enlightenment (which occurred over 300 years ago) is when the scientists and great thinkers of Europe declared that for society to move forward in a positive, progressive and healthy way, that we can’t base our society on any religious mythologies or superstitious beliefs.

    That all religions are human-man. Fake. Mythologies. Failed sciences. Claiming to know a god is claiming the impossible. No amount of belief makes something a fact. If I claim something is true because I believe it’s true, does not make something true. Also, sincerity of belief does not make something true. If belief equals fact, then anything you believe, including all religions, are true. Believing that belief makes something true is shear nonsense.

    It’s time for the entire human race to wake up and stop pretending that Bronze Age religious mythologies hold an ounce of credibility and then start getting a better education, learn about the real world around us and begin living in the reality of the Scientific Age.
  • Hassanali Kessani
    commented 2016-02-04 13:16:55 -0500
    The Exposure of HOUSE OF SAUD, as to what they are in reality must be shown to the world!
    The West (Belfour Agreement by British Government decisively faked Talmudic Jews roaming around Arabian Deserts who were well speaking Arabic Language where given title of Muslims with the name Al-Saud) must be exposed.
    Till then keep demonstrating for Truth to prevail but never will truth will every prevail.
    Our Prophet of Islam warned all Muslims at His time and till every single Muslim given birth that HORN OF SATAN APPEARING FROM NAJD (today’s Riyadh) is not sufficient? Is not an absolute TRUTH?
    Give The House of Saud their Origin back and kick them out of Arabia.
    DO SOMETHING VALUABLE, CODEPINK TEAM, Blessings are with you.
  • David Anderson
    commented 2015-12-29 18:22:46 -0500
    It’s fine. Are buses going from NYC for the March, D.C. event?
  • wright gregson
    commented 2015-12-13 20:13:10 -0500
    “Coalition to end US-Saudi Alliance???
    here’s hoping they are successful!!
    our whorishness in our dealings with that vile, useless, nay, dangerous society is shameful.