Genuflecting to power

The obsequious fawning over the recently dead Saudi King, Abdullah, is hard to stomach. The words of Voltaire come back to haunt us: "To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you're not allowed to criticise."

Contradiction in Action: The Eulogies for Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud By Binoy Kampmark

What a spanner in the works of international relations he proved to be. The late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud of Saudi Arabia was always the spoiler in the morality plays of Western powers keen to back him. Oil was always the greatest deterrent against getting on his wrong side, but it also meant the most intolerable of inconsistencies.  For most governments, however, these were tolerated.

Friendship with the ruling family of a state which sponsors terrorism is no impediment to conducting a war on terror.

George W. Bush and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia: Is Kissing a “State Sponsor of Terrorism” a “Terrorist Act”? Political satire by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Given the US/NATO role in creating and sustaining the terrorist threat, it's not such a big deal to collude with others in the same game.

The UK government is no less tainted, eg. the Al Yamamah deal to sell arms to Saudi Arabia. The investigation into BAe's involvement in corruption was dropped under pressure from the Saudis. Now the UK's Ministry of Justice has signed a deal to give "cover" to the Saudi punishment system - or perhaps the secret memorandum of understanding is about sharing best practice; an interesting concept given Saudi Arabia's proclivity for lashings and beheadings.

A conflict of interest: the Saudi state and the UK’s Ministry of Justice

The proposed commercial deal between the Saudi Arabian state and the UK’s Ministry of Justice (MoJ) – whereby the Saudis will pay some £5.9 million for MoJ assistance for its punishment system – prompts a number of concerns.

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