From daily The Morning Star in Britain:
Cameron’s mask slips in Riyadh
Friday 13 January 2012
Forget all the coalition claptrap about democracy and human rights being at the cornerstone of Britain’s foreign policy.
This approach is not confined to Saudi Arabia. The British PM switched over to arms-trafficking mode immediately after Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was unseated last February and in the aftermath of Nato-guided regime change in Libya.
No matter how much British governments of whatever stripe join the US in flattering the medieval Saudi monarchy as a force for stability and responsibility, the reality is that it is a dictatorship – albeit one that owes fealty to Washington.
Our government claims that strong relations with Riyadh are essential to advance British regional interests such as energy security, counter-terrorism and political reform.
Come again – the Saudi royal family is resolutely opposed to political reform. Indeed, it uses the might of its armed forces, supplied by its grateful US and British allies, to crush any demands for democratic rights.
Indeed it goes further. Having been critical of US failure to maintain its support for Egypt’s wobbling ruler Mubarak in the face of mass civilian protests against corruption and military dictatorship, the Saudi ruling elite showed Washington what it should have done by sending an armoured column into neighbouring Bahrain.
It stiffened the resolve of the equally despicable and unrepresentative Bahraini royal clique, encouraging them to unleash military repression against the country’s majority Shia population.
The Saudi air force, comprising US-supplied F15 jets and Tornados produced by a British-Italian-German consortium, has also intervened against efforts of the Yemeni people to rid themselves of the Ali Abdullah Saleh dictatorship by bombing what it called “rebel camps.”
Britain and the US have no word of criticism against either Saudi Arabia or Bahrain, which, coincidentally or not, houses the US 5th Fleet at Juffair, five miles from its capital Manama.
It was previously a British naval base when Britannia made the rules for the region, co-opting pliable hereditary rulers as its catspaws.
Little has changed, apart from the US supplanting Britain as top dog, since 1820 when London gave its imprimatur to local tribal leaders on what was known as the “trucial coast” in return for their opposition to piracy directed against British shipping to and from India.
Then as now imperial interests dictated the conduct and foreign policy of the trucial states, up to and including Iraq, rather than the wishes of local people.
How does Foreign Secretary William Hague reconcile this reality with his weasel words urging respect for the results of elections held in Tunisia and Egypt?
“In standing up for the right of peoples to choose their own representatives at the ballot box, we have to accept their choices and work with the governments they elect”, intones our democracy advocate.
But that doesn’t apply to the people of Bahrain or Saudi Arabia. Democracy, it seems, is too good for them and they might waste it by voting for the wrong people.
In any case, for Cameron and his 1 per cent elite Cabinet colleagues, annual bilateral trade worth £15 billion a year and Saudi investment here of over £62bn is far more important.
The conservative coalition is a national disgrace, prioritising arms dealers’ profits over decency and democracy.
Selling Military Weapons to Create Jobs: A Momentum of Cynicism: here.