May and her Tory pals toady up to the Gulf sheikhs
Friday 23rd December 2016
The PM has been sucking up to some odious characters from the Gulf Co-operation Council, writes SOLOMON HUGHES
ON her recent visit to the Middle East Theresa May showed her Tory government intends to creep and crawl to the autocracies of the Gulf, no matter how backward and repressive they are. Because they’ve got oil and money.
May can do this without too much trouble partly because, in the background, there is a flow of money and friendship between her back-bench MPs and the sheikhs.
May went to address the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) in December. This is the alliance of all Arab rulers along the Persian gulf.
The GCC is made up of undemocratic, backward sheikhdoms — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Elections, human rights and even political parties are strangers in the lands of the sheikhs. And May told them they could stay like that as long as the money flows.
She was the first ever British prime minister to address the GCC directly. She came to their inner circle to talk sycophantically.
May told the sheikhs gathered in Bahrain that “just as Gulf security is our security, so your prosperity is also our prosperity.”
She means that her British government will stick with the sheikhs as long as the oil money flows. They can continue dropping bombs on Yemen, chopping off heads, shooting “Arab Spring” protesters: we will supply them with arms as long as the oil and money flow.
When May told the GCC: “We will succeed through our continued commitment to the rules-based order on which our prosperity has been built,” she meant rules written by medieval monarchies, rules that repress and exploit, are fine as long as there is money to be made.
But don’t expect many “freedom-loving” Tories to complain about May’s message to the Gulf dictators. Because her whole party is linked by money to the sheikhdoms.
Just a month before May’s speech there was an expensive jolly for Tory MPs in the Gulf arranged by a sheikh’s lobbyist employing one of their own ex-ministers.
Tory MP for Bristol North West Charlotte Leslie, Tory MP for Mid Sussex Nicholas Soames and Tory MP for Stratford-on-Avon Nadhim Zahawi all went on a “parliamentary delegation” to Dubai to “gain a deeper understanding of the important strategic links between Dubai and the UK.”
The four-day trip cost £4,313 per person for “accommodation and transportation,” so this was a luxury junket to one of the United Arab Emirates. It was paid for by Falcon and Associates International Ltd.
Falcon & Associates is a PR firm owned by the sheikhs of Dubai, which is why it sounds like a cross between an episode of Game of Thrones and a Management Consultancy.
Falcon was established by the emir of Dubai to run Dubai’s abortive bid for the 2020 Olympics. The emir kept the company going to “work to positively influence the conversation about Dubai and the UAE as a place of opportunity for business, culture and lifestyle.”
This is how the conversation should really go: Dubai is an absolute monarchy with no democratic rights and a bad reputation for abusing foreign workers who build and service the city state.
But Falcon have an “in” with the Tories. Former Foreign Office minister Hugh Robertson stood down at the last election and promptly stepped into a new job doing PR for the repressive Middle Eastern government.
Until 2014 he was responsible for the Middle East and counter-terrorism. In 2015 he became head of the London office and director of international relations for Falcon and Associates.
So he used to help run the British government. Now he has used his “democratic” CV to get a job working for the undemocratic sheikhs.
And his firm has become very good at rounding up Tory MPs and sending them on expensive PR jaunts to the Gulf.
So while Prime Minister May is smiling at the sheikhs, her backbenchers are being shipped out on comfortable trips abroad by the same absolute monarchs and former Tory ministers.