Saudi Disgrace 8


I was so impressed by this cartoon in the Times I went out and bought a copy as I felt Mr Murdoch deserved my money today. Also great to see Vince Cable of the Lib Dems making a good stand on the issue by boycotting the event. Full marks.

Saudi Arabia is a terrible abuser of human rights whose corrupt and obscurantist regime has spawned the worst excesses of modern terrorism, and exported financial corruption throughout the world. I am stunned by Foreign Office Minister Kim Howells statement today that the UK and Saudi Arabia share “common values”. But on reflection, I think our governments do share common values – a worship of money, and a disregard for common people.

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8 thoughts on “Saudi Disgrace

  • writeon

    It's a good cartoon, but I'd have liked it to show the scene from a slightly different perspective, with an ironic and potentially tragic twist; and it's that the barrel we are worshipping is probably half-empty!

  • Alien


    I agree with your description of Saudi Arabia (depending on which human rights you are referring to), but I'm a little surprised by the huge political and media row about this visit. What makes the Saudi king worse than some other rulers who are much more welcomed in the UK (Perves Musharaf's name springs to mind, among many others), and what makes the Saudi record on human rights any worse than, for example, the US. SA is only a peripheral site of the CIA.

  • writeon

    Dear Alien,

    I suspect it’s because the Saudi king is just so “other looking” if you like, so “alien”! These people seem so damn – Arab!

    Not only that he’s come with a truly vast retinue, three 747s. It’s almost a parody of how fabulously wealthy Arabs are supposed to travel. I imagine he takes everyone with him who could conceivably overthrow him if they were left at home.

    Also, on a more serious note, I think we like finding peoples and regimes we can criticize. It helps us define who we are, by looking at “the other”.

  • Craig


    I don't remember any lack of protest when Bush came, or the Chinese leader for that matter. Possibly the BBC is being more open about reporting it this time, but it seems marginal to me.

  • writeon


    I’m not sure we disagree on anything substantial. I was merely speculating in reference to Alien’s comment that there’s huge politiacl and media row about the king’s visit, and what might lay behind it.

    Of course there were protests when Bush came, ditto the Chinese leader, but did they suffer the same level of criticism in the media that the Saudi king has received? That, I believe, is Alien’s point and is it justified? Though I imagene he can speak for himself.

    What interests me is how the media decide who are the good guys and the bad guys? Which countries do we like and which are fair game for criticism?

    You’ve got an interest in Africa, why do you think we here so little about the civil war in the Congo? Which, as far as I can tell is the biggest and bloodiest conflict in Africa today by far. What is it about the Congo that is uninteresting? Where is Bono? Where is Geldoff? Is it because the media effectively waits for a green light from government before they are allowed to cover certain areas and subjects?

  • writeon


    I unfortunately forgot to say that I agree with what you wrote about the nature of Saudi society. Twenty-five years ago I knew lots of wealthy young guys from Saudi, we shared a common interest in girl, parties and rock ‘n’ roll! The ones I talked to were all republicans and admired the system in Lybia! I wonder where they all are now?

  • Alien


    That is exactly my point. Why are the media so up in arms this time, the BBC inviting campaigners to speak about human rights in Saudi Arabia and "Saudi government sponsorship of terrorism" (Radio 2 Monday), and starting a debate on the website, plus all the newspapers objection to the visit (not just reporting).

    The Lib Dem's leader boycotting the reception! I don't think this happened before (anyway, he knows he'll never be a PM).

  • writeon


    I'll speculate as to why the media have been let off the leash, up to a point, in relation to Saudi Arabia.

    It's part of a process of partial de-ligitimization of the Saudi regime, as we plan for the longterm. The longterm startegy is "regime change" in Saudi if appear to "wander", by wander I mean leave the path we've been on for the last half a century.

    We, and I mean the United States, which we are effectively a part of, have had a deal with the Saudi royal family. We protect them and they sell their oil to us. Though from time to time the royal family have been forced to appear as if they were a sovereign state instead of a protectorate.

    But now there are signs that some elements in the ruling elite in Saudi Arabia are deeply uneasy about the role of the United States in the Middle East and what it could mean for their country. If America can get away with regime change in Iraq, why not in Saudi Arabia? America wants to control access to the regions resources and decide who gets the oil and gas and how much.

    Given the enormous strategic importance of the oil and gas in the region and how desparately the United States needs to control this resource, if I was a Saudi leader, I would be very nervous indeed. The Americans have effectively removed Iraq as an effective military force in the area for decades and now Saudi Arabia is even more dependent on American "protection" than before. It's a situation they don't relish, but what can they do?

    Has the House of Saud outlived its usefulness to the Americans, who, after all, more or less created the Saudi royal family? Can we really rely on them to remain our friends when there is an potential alternative in China and India?

    This doesn't mean we're going to replace them tomorrow, as long as they continue to play ball and serve our interests, but, if they stray to much from the path we've outlined for them, undermining them, would be a piece of cake. We'd organize another colour revolution and soon Saudi Arabia would become another happy member of the "democratic family of nations" just like Lybia.

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