Posts Tagged ‘Nimr al-Nimr’

Counterpunch on Saudi Arabia’s Influence on British Foreign Affairs

June 6, 2017

Binoy Kampmark, one of the contributors to Counterpunch, has put up a very interesting piece on how the Saudis have managed to influence British foreign policy through a mixture of bribery, business connections and threats. He describes the very extensive gifts and consulting fees given to various Tory MPs, and notes the close connections Blair’s New Labour also cultivated with the head-choppers in Riyadh. May’s government has also profited massively from selling arms to Saudi Arabia to use in their war in Yemen. It’s why Philip Hammond, the Tory foreign secretary, decided to accuse the Iranians of being the principle sponsors of global terror.

But the regime has also used threats. When Blair threatened to investigate the corruption scandal surrounding BAE, the head of the Saudi national security council turned up in London to threaten another 7/7.

The situation is very different under Corbyn. Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry says she wants to conduct an international inquiry into Saudi atrocities in Yemen. This would mean suspending arms sales to the theocratic absolute monarchy. He makes the point that Thornberry is very much following Robin Cook’s stated intention of establishing an ethical foreign policy. Despite that, New Labour abandoned any sign of actually doing this once they got into power. Just as the abandoned the talk about stopping the privatisation of the NHS and the erosion of the welfare state.

But Thornberry means what she says, and this will terrify the Saudis, who will hope for a Tory victory.

Kampmark writes

‘The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia always knows when it’s onto a good thing. That particular “thing”, in the few days left before the UK elections, is the May government. That same government that has done so much to make a distinction between policy and values, notably when it comes to dealing with Riyadh.

The United Kingdom has been a firm, even obsequious backer of Saudi Arabia’s war against Yemen. In the traditional spoiling nature of British foreign policy, what is good for the UK wallet can also be good in keeping Middle Eastern politics brutal and divided. The obscurantist despots of the House of Saud have profited, as a result.

The Saudi bribery machine tends to function all hours, a measure of its gratitude and its tenacity. According to the register of financial interests disclosed by the UK Parliament, conservative members of the government received almost £100 thousand pounds in terms of travel expenses, gifts, and consulting fees since the Yemen conflict began.

The Saudi sponsors certainly know which side their bread is buttered on. Those involved in debates on Middle Eastern policy have been the specific targets of such largesse. Tory MP Charlotte Leslie was one, and received a food basket totalling £500.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond is another keen target of the Kingdom’s deep pockets, having shown a willingness to defend mass executions in the past. “Let us be clear, first of all,” he insisted after consuming the Kingdom’s gruel on why 47 people were executed in January 2016, “that these people are convicted terrorists.” Four of them, including Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, were political protesters as well, but terrorists come in all shades.’

‘Attempts to shine a strong, searing spotlight on corrupt practices, notably those linked to BAE, have been scotched, blocked or stalled. One such example, a chilling one given the recent spate of attacks on civilians in the UK, involved a disgruntled Prince Bandar, head of Saudi Arabia’s national security council, threaten Prime Minister Tony Blair with “another 7/7” should a fraud investigation into BAE-Riyadh transactions continue.

High Court documents in February 2008 hearings insisted that the Prince had flown to London in December 2006 to give Blair a personal savaging laced with ominous promise: stop the Serious Fraud Office investigation, or expect London to witness a terrorist inflicted bloodbath.’

‘The picture is not a pretty one when shoved into the electoral process. But then again, the May wobble and turn may well justify such a relationship on terms that Saudi security and power is preferable to other authoritarian regimes. These big bad Sunnis are the good Muslims of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Such splitting of hairs doesn’t tend to fly well from the stump and the Tories might well attempt to keep things as quiet as possible. The Saudis, on the other hand, will be wishing for business as usual, praying that the threat of a Corbyn government passes into the shadows of back slapping Realpolitik.’

The message here is that the Saudis are not our friends. They are ruthless, self-interested butchers and despots. They have corrupted our politics, and have no qualms of sending terrorists to kill and maim innocents when it serves their purpose. Just like they did on 9/11.

It’s time their malign influence was firmly brought to heel. Saudi terrorism must be stopped. And a very good start is Jeremy Corbyn’s stated policy of stopping British arms sales to them.

Vote Labour on June 8. They’ll be tough on terrorism, and tough on the causes of terrorism.

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David Cameron, Human Rights and Arms Sales in Saudi Arabia

January 5, 2016

Yesterday I put up a number of piece about Saudi Arabia, and the current international outcry over the execution of a number of political prisoners, including the Shi’a cleric, Nimr al-Nimr. Britain’s own dealings with the Saudis are particularly murky. Secret cables released by Wikileaks seem to indicate that our government was involved in some shady deals to get the Saudis elected to the UN Human Rights Council, despite the complete absence of anything like human rights there. These have been publicised in the Australian newspaper, The Australian, and Cameron has been called upon to issue a clarification of what went on. See Mike’s article at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/01/04/uk-government-urged-to-reveal-role-in-getting-saudi-arabia-onto-un-human-rights-council/

It has also been revealed that the House of Commons supervisory committee on arms sales has been absent for the past nine months. So there are naturally concerns that Britain has been selling arms to the Saudis so they can use them against the rebels in Yemen. See this article by Mike at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/01/04/uk-arms-exports-escape-scrutiny-under-tory-government-2/

Putting two and two together, its seems likely that Cameron did indeed cut some kind of a deal with the Saudis. We get them elected to the UN Human Rights Council, and they buy our arms. And who knows what else.

Michelle Thomasson, whose comments on this blog have been very informative about events in the Middle East and the current wars, made this comment on by piece about William Blum’s view that the real reason for the invasion of Afghanistan was to secure its oil supply.

Thank you, very interesting Blum article, which also mentions in passing ‘USraeli’, but do other nations also play a role in USraeli interests?…

I thought this recent article about a ‘Saudi Oil Imperium’
ref
: http://journal-neo.org/2015/12/08/what-stinks-in-saudi-aint-the-camel-dung/ may have some grains of truth but the writer fails to mention US/Israeli interests.

I also wonder about the inner machinations of the UK government who seem to have an awful synergy with Saudi e.g. http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/sep/29/uk-and-saudi-arabia-in-secret-deal-over-human-rights-council-place

The UK has had an interest in directing and controlling Arab dynastic interests in the Middle East for a very long time e.g. “The outstanding event at this time was, of course, the Cairo Conference of March 1921 at which British army officers and officials headed by the Colonial Secretary, Mr Winston Churchill, decided to convert the region into a Hashemite Kingdom of Iraq led by Amir Faisal bin Hussein whom the French had recently evicted from Syria. Faisal´s debt to Britain for an Iraqi throne would, it was assumed, ensure respect for British interests in the area. These could be further promoted by using British bomber aircraft for policing. Cambridge University Archives, Records of Iraq 1914-1966: ref: http://archiveeditions.co.uk/titledetails.asp?tid=94

So wouldn’t the UK and Saudi be included in the US/Israeli bid to control the energy empire from Afghanistan to Syria? Just musing out loud because we seem to have similar inquiries, thank you again for your posts.

This seems to me to be a line worth pursuing. Greg Palast in his book, Armed Madhouse, describes the way the Saudis effectively wreck the economies of other oil producing countries if they don’t toe their line on the price of oil. I’d have to chase this up, but it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Britain also didn’t have oil interests in the Gulf, beyond the simple dependence on Saudi oil. I’ve also got a feeling much of the dealings between Britain and Saudi Arabia also go back to the Cold War, and the need to find an ally and a bulwark in the region against Soviet influence, and particularly Nasser’s Egypt and Arab Socialism.

As for the state of the Saudi regime and their support for human rights, one of the prisoners sentenced to execution was a young man, whose only crime was to give first aid to protestors, who had been shot or wounded by the Saudi police or army. In Yemen, 50% plus of the victims of Saudi bombing are civilians. The Saudis’ presence on the Human Rights Council is a monstrous travesty.

Secular Talk on Conservatives Getting Annoyed when Saudi Arabia Compared to ISIS

January 3, 2016

The big news today has been the protests around the world, and particularly Iran, over the execution in Saudi Arabia of political and religious prisoners, most notably the Shi’a cleric Nimr al-Nimr. David Cameron is facing criticism because he has turned a blind eye to these executions. Mike’s covered this story on Vox Poltical at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/01/03/david-cameron-criticised-for-turning-blind-eye-to-mass-executions-in-saudi-arabia/. He’s also posted a number of stories on his blog, about how Cameron is all too willing to provide material aid to Saudi Arabia, despite the country’s appalling record on human rights.

It should be no surprise to anyone that Shi’a Muslims throughout the world are upset about this. Saudi Arabia is profoundly religiously intolerant. Not only are non-Muslim religions, such as Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism banned, but also all varieties of Islam except the official Wahhabi form of the faith. There are Shi’a Muslims in Saudi Arabia, but they are very heavily discriminated against. They live in villages without electricity or running water. They are not allowed to build mosques to worship, and their religious literature, if discovered, is immediately confiscated. They are far more intolerant than the Islamic regime in Iran, which at least reserves four seats in the country’s majlis (parliament) for non-Muslim minorities.

I’m reblogging this clip from the American atheist news show, Secular Talk, as it gives an American secularist perspective on the issue. Here the show’s presenter, Kyle Kulinski, discusses an edition of the British current affairs discussion programme, Question Time, where a Conservative MP gets very angry while denouncing ISIS’ butchery, when Mehdi Hassan makes the point that Saudi Arabia do exactly the same. He states that despite their vicious intolerance, we are even aiding Saudi Arabia bomb Yemen, one of the poorest nations in the world. Kulinski makes the point that the bombings in Yemen have a civilian death rate of 50% +. Most of the people we are helping the Saudis to kill are civilians. Kulinski also makes the point that the Saudis are actively spreading Salafism – Islamic fundamentalism – throughout the world. They have also refused to take in any Syrian refugees. They will, however, build mosques for them in Europe. Mosques that preach the Saudi intolerant fundamentalism. Kulinski also points out that the Saudis have banned even moderate, reformist interpretations of Islam, quite apart from sentencing bloggers and others to death for apostasy or ‘insulting Islam’, as well as crimes like drug offences. But the West does not criticism, or doing anything about them, because of massive corporate and oil interests in Saudi Arabia.

Now I’ve reblogged material from Secular Talk before. I don’t support their atheism or secularism, but agree with much they say on non-religious topics. And they’re right here. Saudi Arabia is brutally intolerant, and is active promoting its extreme interpretation of Islam. It is also actively involved in the promotion of terrorism, funding and directing al-Qaeda through its intelligence minister, Turki al-Faisal. But because they control the oil economy, and are the biggest market for British arms, we don’t utter a word against them.

As for Mehdi Hassan, he’s very much a bête noir amongst the Islamophobic Right, including American Republicans and Canadian Conservatives. He’s a Muslim, and so they present him very much as a kind of secret Islamic subversive, burrowing into the European political system in order to overthrow it. I think the real reason they hate him with a passion is not so much his religion, but simply the fact that he is left-wing and articulate. His opponents genuinely despise his religion, but I think they also find it a useful tool with which to attack him. They can simply play on their supporters’ religious prejudices and not have to bother with the troublesome business of having to refute his political arguments.