In 1997 I welcomed New Labour on the assumption that it would have a more ethical foreign policy. They said it, not me. What a farce that turned out to be. The Guardian reports this week on secret dealings between the British government and the Saudis, showing the level to which our government is now stooping to.
Britain has already agreed to expel two Saudi dissidents as part of a $40 billion arms deal on behalf of BAE systems. That is pretty bad in itself. Not only is it acting on behalf of a defence contractor, but we’re handing back people to a regime known for not being nice to such people.
The two dissidents are also interesting. Both Saad al-Faqih and Mohammed al-Masari have been outspoken critics of the Saudi government, though not in the normal democractic sort of way. Mohammed al-Masari, a physicist who fled from the kingdom in 1994, was a leading figure, along with Saad al-Faqih, in the Committee for Defence of Legitimate Rights apparently. This and more from a BBC profile.
Al-Faqih has written for the Guardian previously, saying:
Both moderate and jihadist Islamist activists have long recognised the values of justice and liberty within western societies as the foundation of western dominance in the past few centuries. A dictum attributed to Ibn Taymiya, a renowned Muslim scholar born seven centuries ago, states that God will lend victory to a just nation even if it is infidel and bring defeat to the unjust even if it they are Muslim. When the west loses its values of justice, it will be defeated in the long run.
Though David T at Harry’s Place dug up more dirt on him when he wrote this piece.
So, the government is (probably illegally) planning to hand back these guys who are opposed to the Saudi govt, but may be Al-Qaeda supporters as others point out.
The thing is, BAE is also under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office for allegedly running a Â£60m Saudi “slush fund”. But guess what?
The Saudis want the London-based dissidents expelled, British Airways to resume flights to Riyadh, and a major corruption investigation into BAE and a Saudi prince to be dropped.
You couldn’t make it up.
The government is happy to deal with dodgy regimes that prop up Al-Qaeda while making statements about fighting terrorism in every shape or form. Not only that, the Saudis get their kickbacks and BAE gets away scot free with another £40 billion. Everyone’s happy.
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Filed in: Current affairs,Economics,The World