Mohammed Bin Salman: The Truth Behind The Reformist Facade 285


There was a revealing coincidence of timing yesterday. Philip Hammond made a speech in which he pleaded with the EU to allow the UK continued free access to their financial services markets, on the basis of mutually recognised standards. At the same time, Theresa May met the Saudi Crown Prince in Downing Street and discussed specific legal reductions of those standards in the City of London, to allow for the stock exchange flotation of part of Saudi state oil giant Aramco.

It is symbolic because the toxic addiction of the ruling classes to Saudi cash has been lowering British standards of basic decency for generations. The most blatant example was when Tony Blair as Prime Minister intervened directly in the justice system to prevent the pursuit of corruption charges against the stench-ridden arms dealers of BAE, on grounds of “national security”. The myths about the impartiality of British justice have seldom been so comprehensively exposed. Where there is really dirty money, Blair is seldom far away.

The use of British supplied weapons by the Saudis to maim and kill children in Yemen on an industrial scale has penetrated public consciousness despite the best efforts of mainstream media to sideline it, and Jeremy Corbyn was absolutely right to highlight the involvement not just of arms manufacturers but of the British military. The government and royal fawning has been accompanied by an extraordinary deluge of pro-Saudi propaganda from the mainstream media this last two days for Saudi Arabia and its “reforming” Crown Prince.

There is no doubt that Mohammed Bin Salman has shown a ruthless genius in internal power consolidation in Saudi Arabia, with rivals arrested, shaken down or dying by accident. That he is seeking to end corruption appears less probable than that he is seeking to monopolise its proceeds and thus concentrate power, but time will give a clearer picture. There is no evidence whatsoever that Saudi Arabia is stopping its funding of Wahabbist jihadism across the Middle East and South Asia; indeed it has been stepped up by him, as has the bombing of Yemen.

Bin Salman may have a slightly different take on religion to those previously controlling Saudi Arabia, but in fact he is a much more dangerous fanatic. He is an extreme Sunni sectarian, driven by a visceral hatred of Shia Muslims. This is expressed in an aggressive foreign policy, causing a further destabilisation of the Middle East which threatens to tip over into catastrophe, as Bin Salman seeks to turn up the heat against Iran in proxy conflict in Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere. That he is doing so in active and functional alliance with Israel is the world’s worst kept diplomatic secret. Saudi/Israeli cooperation in Lebanon and Syria is to my mind the most dangerous global flashpoint at present.

But despite his fawning reception in London, Bin Salman is not having it all his own way. I returned from Doha two weeks ago and in Qatar, Bin Salman has seriously overreached. Angry at Doha’s lack of hostility to Iran, including revenue sharing agreement on cross-border fields, Saudi Arabia has blockaded the small Emirate of Qatar for six months now. The excuse given to the West – that Qatar funds jihadist terrorism – is perhaps the worst example of the pot calling the kettle black in History. But the Saudi demands, including the permanent closure of Al Jazeera, expulsion of Arab dissidents and removal of a Turkish military base, reveal an altogether different agenda.

Qatar has proved much more resilient than anybody expected. The blockade has caused some economic damage but it has been survivable, and the effect has been entirely counter-productive for Bin Salman. Qatar has become closer economically to Iran and has developed new port facilities which reduce import reliance on Saudi Arabia and its satraps. The Saudis had massed troops on the border and threatened invasion, but the Qataris vowed to fight.

Then something remarkable happened which the world mainstream media has almost entirely ignored. Despite Saudi sponsored adverts all over US media portraying named senior Qataris as terrorist sponsors, and despite strong Israeli pro-Saudi lobbying, Donald Trump suddenly called Bin Salman to heel. With Saudi troops massed on the Qatari border, on 30 January the United States signed an agreement with Qatar “to deter and confront any threat to Qatar’s territorial integrity”. This was a massive slap in the face to Bin Salman from Donald Trump, and a result of Tillerson recognising the real threat to the world from Bin Salman’s extreme ambition.

I can only conjecture this received none of the publicity it deserved from the corporate media because it went against the prevailing narrative that Trump can never, in any circumstance, do anything strikingly good, and because it was a blow to Israel. The uber-hawk Clinton would certainly not have crossed Saudi Arabia and Israel in this way. It is an important sign that there is more to Tillerson’s Middle Eastern diplomacy than the stupid decision, motivated by US domestic politics, to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The elite loves Saudi money all around the world. But the UK is unique in allowing that to blind them absolutely to human rights abuses, the appalling bombing of Yemen, and the extreme dangers posed by Bin Salman’s hyperactive regional aggression towards Shia Muslims. We should be used to seeing Tories kowtowing to money by now. But this week makes me still more sick than usual.


285 thoughts on “Mohammed Bin Salman: The Truth Behind The Reformist Facade

1 2 3 4
  • Sharp Ears

    No show without Billy Fourteen Pints.

    ‘It will be painful, but the slumbering West must wake up to the true threat posed by Putin
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/03/12/will-painful-slumbering-west-must-wake-true-threat-posed-putin/?

    He’s behind the Barclay Bros paywall here. Best place.

    I looked at his HoL Register of Interests he other day. Massive. He did OK for himself, now tucked away with Ffion in his large mansion in Wales.

    Omitted is how much he charges for each of those speeches. Imagine paying to listen to his droning voice.

    https://www.parliament.uk/biographies/lords/lord-hague-of-richmond/379

    Why does anyone want a 10 bedroomed house? It is not as if he has any heirs or successors.

    William Hague buys £2.5million, 10-bedroom country pile in mid Wales… which looks just like his old grace and favour mansion

    Hagues’ new 10-bedroom stately home in Powys set in nearly 13 acres
    10 bathrooms and a ‘leisure suite’ with heated pool, spa pool and gym
    Also has a library, cellars, an orangery and six holiday cottages
    Ex-Foreign Secretary has £1million flat in his Richmond constituency
    15 January 2015
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2911769/William-Hague-buys-2-5million-10-bedroom-country-pile-mid-Wales.html

  • Dave Lawton

    British Prime Minister Theresa May claimed: “Either this was a direct act by the Russian state against our country, or the Russian government lost control… and allowed it to get into the hands of others.” I wonder who?
    Since its independence in 1991, Uzbekistan has been working with the government of the United States to dismantle and decontaminate the sites where the Novichok agents and other chemical weapons were tested and developed.”

    • Sharp Ears

      Bradshaw and some other BLairites yesterday following Theresa May’s anti Russia rhetoric.

      Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter)
      ‘May I commend the Prime Minister for today making the sort of resolute and realistic statement about the Kremlin that many of us have been looking for in this House for some time? Will she invite the heroic and brave Bill Browder, who has done more than any other single individual to uncover the Kremlin’s methods, to give her a full briefing about what he knows of Putin’s cronies’ money-laundering exploits in London and the British political figures who have been corrupted by Kremlin money? Will she also make sure that the whole of the Government machinery is now giving full co-operation to Robert Mueller’s inquiry in the United States, because of what he has already uncovered about what the Russians have been doing here?’

      Chris Bryant (Rhondda)
      I do not suppose there is a single Member who is surprised that President Putin would resort to violence, because he has done it so many times before: 334 killed in the Beslan massacre; 170 killed unnecessarily in the Moscow theatre siege; 299 killed on flight MH17, the aeroplane brought down by the Russians; countless journalists and countless people who stood up to him as political opponents in other countries around the world murdered by him; and, yes, Sergei Magnitsky. I hear what the Prime Minister says, but may I just ask—this is the 29th time I have asked this question—whether we can ensure that, at the end of this process, nobody involved in the murder of Sergei Magnitsky, or in the corruption that he unveiled, will be allowed into this country? For that matter, can we just stop Russia Today broadcasting its propaganda in this country?

      Shutting down RT. His words were repeated on Radio 5 Live this morning. Normally, he stands holding forth on every subject under the sun, often talking about himself at length, even about his time as a CoE cleric manqué.

      Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford)
      ‘I thank the Prime Minister for her statement. It is hard to see any alternative to her grave conclusion that this was either a direct act by the Russian state against our country or the Russian Government have lost control of a dangerous nerve agent. In that context, I hope the whole House will be able to come together behind a firm response from the Government in the interests of our national security and public safety. Can I therefore ask her whether the National Security Council has asked for a review of the 14 other cases that I wrote to the Home Secretary about to see whether any of those should be investigated? Can I also press her on what further action she has taken in preparation for potential UN Security Council resolutions that should be drafted in order to get the widest possible international support?’

  • SA

    Paul
    This is old at the time of the forced resignation of Al Hariri. Nothing has happened. Note that the West has now decided to bypass Syria and Iran and go for Russia. Please try to read the book I linked above which explained the continuous , since the 1980s, efforts to break up Russia and interestingly how many of the names starring now , like Bowder , resurface time and again.

1 2 3 4

Comments are closed.