Newly arrived despots are the worst kind

Ben Chu

rifkind 150x150 Newly arrived despots are the worst kindMalcolm Rifkind has an article in The Times today (paywall) that invites us to regard Saudi Arabia as a “true friend”.

And here’s one reason why:

“Their foreign policy is moderate and rarely aggressive against their neighbours. And if their internal policy is often cruel in our eyes it is the product of hundreds of years of cultural difference, not the result of some newly arrived despot”.

What species of nonsense is this? If you’ve been sentenced to death by the Saudi courts for practicing “witchcraft will it console you that the ruling was made by a gaggle of ancient religious fanatics, rather than some johnny-come-lately dictator? If you’re one of the Shia of Saudi Arabia, does it matter to you that your oppression is a consequence of “centuries of cultural difference”? If you’re a rape victim who has been sentenced to be lashed for “illegal mingling” with men will it comfort you that your leaders wear keffiyehs rather than berets?

Rifkind implies we should be grateful to the Saudis for the tip-off about the cargo bombs. This says it all. What kind of regime would ever think of not passing on intelligence that could prevent a terrorist atrocity abroad?

I believe that Britain should be realist in its foreign policy. It is necessary to deal with vile regimes like  Saudi Arabia. But crawling apologias like Rifkind’s for these repressive Wahhabi zealots leave a bad taste.

And I wait with anticipation for Rifkind to be roundly condemned by those who continue to support the US invasion of Iraq on the grounds that Saddam Hussein was a vicious human-rights abusing dictator.

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  • LancashireLad

    I had a post taken off another blog yesterday, I suggested that some terrorist groups may be funded from Saudi Arabia (I did also mention the terror training camps in Pakistan, so that may have touched a nerve with the censors)Anyway I’ll see if this blog is more open to free speach; albeit I risk being stoned to death if the comment stays on for much longer

  • Ciaran Rehill

    What a silly thing to say Ben, the U.K propped up Saddam as a bulwark against the nasty Iranians, it sold arms to Suharto to use on civilians in East Timor, traded with Peking whilst it illegal occupied Tibet, send Pinochet back to Chile so he could not stand trial for murdering opponents and acquised in an illegal war in Iraq. Psst, don’t tell Mr Rentoul.

  • bob idle

    “it’s all about the oil”

  • LortonView

    Saudi grew the Islamist terrorism with their Wahhabi version of Islam. OSM- Saudi.

  • JohnBEllis

    Sir Malcolm is in many ways the acceptable face of Toryism – at least to me! – but even the acceptable face presents, in unguarded moments, the indelible mark of the brand.

    The irony is that the Sauds are far from being Wahhabi zealots. But the long-standing compromise is that the Wahhabis leave the Saud dynasty, with its gambling, drinking, clubbing and servant-beating eccentricities, alone, and don’t rock the political boat; and, in return, and the Sauds give the Wahhabi puritans free reign over the life of the ordinary folk of the kingdom. I believe it’s been thus for rather more than a couple of hundred years. British and American patrons have winked at all this for the last eighty years.

    Mr Chu’s penultimate paragraph says it like it is.

  • Simon Delancey

    The fact is commonly accepted that the Saudis have been funding terrorism for a long while now, which makes it all the more remarkable that we continue to treat with them and that people such as Rifkind should act as apologists.

    Which blog censored you?

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