25 Mar 2013

Bypassing Saudi human rights in the name of oil and jobs

Warning: you may find some of the descriptions in this blog distressing

Charles and Camilla are safely home from Saudi Arabia and assorted Gulf states.

They were in Saudi at a somewhat bumpy moment. The royal couple never got closer than a thousand miles from the “public killing grounds”, as they are somewhat candidly described.

Had they got a lot closer, they might have seen the blood drying from the execution of seven alleged robbers.

I use the word “alleged” because the UN and various human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch’s Middle East section, have argued that the trials of the men – some of whom were juveniles – conducted under sharia law, were deeply flawed.

The suspects were charged with being part of a gang of thieves in the Saudi town of Abha. There was no evidence that any of the accused had killed or injured anyone.

Actually there may well have been rather less blood in the aftermath of the killings than usual. The death sentences were carried out, for the first time, by firing squad. The kingdom has run out of execution swordsmen, so it is no longer possible to disconnect the accused’s head from his or her body. It was a practice which led to a gushing of much blood from the severed neck.

In the same period, two of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent advocates of non violent reform – Mohammed Fahd al-Quatami and Abdullah al-Hamed – were jailed for 10  years apiece.

Charles and Camilla were not alone in bypassing human rights as a discussion point with their hosts. US Secretary of State John Kerry and America’s Attorney General Eric Holder were both in Saudi in recent days. They too decided not to raise human rights. I hate to use the phrase, but the per capita execution rate in Saudi is higher than in any other country on earth.

I have blogged before on the issue of Saudi-financed warfare. I have yet to be contradicted on the claim that there is not a British military boot in overt or covert action anywhere in the world, where the enemy is not in some way financed by Saudi interests.

Can it really be British jobs and a British thirst for oil that neutralise the reality that this just may be a state that it is perhaps unwise to retain as a ‘most favoured nation?’

Charles and Camilla were not alone in bypassing the matter.

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