Monday, 18 January 2016

Saudis` blank cheque

Is Emma Graham-Harrison being totally accurate when claiming that the execution of "47 people for terrorism" actually "forced the west publicly to shore up its recently strained alliance with Saudi Arabia" (Iran`s fury at the Saudi killing of a cleric has heightened tensions,10/01/16)? Has our politics reached such a nadir that the only comment the British foreign secretary can make about these killings is that they are "regrettable"? Is our government so bereft of any backbone that it refuses to condemn them in case it upsets the major purchaser of British arms in the Middle East? As the British government in 2011 apparently left Saudi Arabia off a list of 30 countries to be challenged over their use of the death penalty, and, of course, gave its support for that same country to chair the UN human rights council panel, it would appear that the Saudis have been given a judicial "blank cheque"! This, however, has not been "forced" on the western powers.
       Understanding that Saudi Arabia is enduring economic problems because of oil prices, and being threatened politically because of both IS, and the Iranian nuclear deal, should not eliminate the need for condemnation. The west should ban all military sales to the Middle East, and if this hurts Saudi Arabia the most, so be it; by allowing the export of British-made missiles and military equipment to Saudi Arabia, to be used against civilians in the Yemen, the UK government has already been put on notice that it is in breach of international law. Neutrality can be shown by insisting on the addition of extra measures to the nuclear deal, such as banning Iran from missile testing.
        If the British economy is in such a perilous state it has to rely on arms sales to countries like Saudi Arabia to balance the books, and as a consequence, the government is too frightened to complain when atrocities occur, the effectiveness of the Tories` "long-term economic plan" has to be questioned, as does their self-penned economic "competence". Any claims to an ethical foreign policy also have to be rejected with disdain.

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