Sunday, 29 May 2011

The man behind the guns

I see from today's paper that Britain's government isn't just cheerleading and arming the Saudi Arabian government's military action against citizens of the UAE asking for democracy: it's training the snipers. It's not a surprise, of course: Saudia Arabia is the most glaring example of realpolitik, in which your friends can be as barbaric as they like whereas your enemies are publicly humiliated for the slightest misdemeanour. 
Britain has been providing training for the Saudi national guard to improve their "internal security and counter-terrorism" capabilities since 1964 and continues to do so. Members of the guard, which was established by the kingdom's royal family because it feared its regular army would not support it in the event of a popular uprising, are also provided places on flagship UK military courses at Sandhurst and Dartmouth. In Saudi Arabia, Britain continues to train the guard in "urban sharpshooter" programmes, the MoD confirmed.
"Last year we raised concerns that the Saudis had been using UK-supplied and UK-maintained arms in secret attacks in Yemen that left scores of Yemeni civilians dead," said Oliver Sprague, director of Amnesty International's UK Arms Programme.
Defence minister Nick Harvey confirmed to parliament last week that the UK's armed forces provided training to the Saudi national guard. "It is possible that some members of the Saudi Arabian national guard which were deployed in Bahrain may have undertaken some training provided by the British military mission," he said. 

Saudi Arabia, let's remind ourselves, imprisons and thrashes women found in public without a male relative. Freedom of assembly doesn't exist. Women's rights are an alien concept. Torture is widespread. The morality police have dictatorial powers. It is far, far worse than Iran, whom we're encouraged to see as the nastiest country on earth. 

Now that the British role in propping up this regime has come to light once more, I fully expect my MP to kick up a fuss. 

No, only joking. This is his contribution to freedom and democracy:

Saudi Arabia All-Party Parliamentary Group - Treasurer
To encourage and develop diplomatic, cultural and social exchanges between the Royal Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the UK with the aim of achieving greater understanding and fostering mutual respect.
Well done, Paul Uppal. 

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