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Saudi Authorities Sanction Lethal Force To Clear Land For Futuristic City 

Former intelligence officer Alenezi has revealed lethal force approval for Saudi’s Neom eco-project, adding that one villager got shot while protesting.

Saudi Cabinet meeting in Riyadh Oct. 16, 2018. (SPA)

Saudi authorities have allegedly sanctioned the use of lethal force to clear land for a futuristic desert city, being constructed as part of the Neom eco-project, a former intelligence officer, Rabih Alenezi has revealed.

According to Alenezi, he was directed to evict villagers from a tribe in Saudi Arabia to make way for The Line, a key component of the $500 billion Neom project. One villager was reportedly shot and killed during protests against the eviction.

The Saudi government and Neom management have declined to comment on the allegations.

The Neom project is a cornerstone of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 strategy, aimed at diversifying the kingdom’s economy away from oil. The Line, envisioned as a car-free city, spans 170 kilometers in length, with construction reportedly lagging behind schedule.

Numerous global companies, including several British firms, are involved in the construction of Neom. However, concerns have been raised about the displacement of local communities to make way for the project. Human rights groups estimate that over 6,000 people have been relocated, with entire villages demolished to clear land.

Alenezi, now in exile in the UK, disclosed that he received an order in April 2020 to clear the village of al-Khuraybah, inhabited mostly by the Huwaitat tribe. The order reportedly authorised the use of lethal force against those resisting eviction.

The situation escalated when Abdul Rahim al-Huwaiti refused to allow authorities to value his property and was subsequently shot dead during the eviction mission. While Saudi security forces claimed he opened fire first, human rights organisations contend that he was killed for resisting eviction.

Although the reports could not independently verify Alenezi’s claims about the use of lethal force, a source familiar with Saudi intelligence corroborated his testimony.

Furthermore, UN and ALQST reports suggest that at least 47 other villagers were detained for resisting evictions, with many facing terror-related charges. Of those detained, 40 remain in custody, including five on death row. Some were arrested for mourning al-Huwaiti’s death on social media.

Chioma Kalu

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