Friday, February 15, 2008

No Smoke Without Fire 2

During the Cold War, debates about communism were dominated by the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China. Although many left-wingers averred that these regimes were an utter perversion of the teachings of Marx, Lenin and Trotsky, most right-wingers saw the evident horrors and failings of these "Communist" regimes as a vindication of Capitalism.

Similarly, debates about Islam today are dominated by the specific features of a handful of regimes - notably Saudi Arabia. As the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, the House of Saud is regarded by some as the secular head of the Islamic world. In recent discussions in the UK about Sharia Law (prompted by a controversial lecture by Rowan Williams), there were many references to Saudi practices - as if Saudi law represented the perfect (or perfectly awful, depending on your point of view) manifestation of sharia.

One of the reasons cited for dropping investigation into alleged corruption by BAE in Saudi Arabia is the threat of terrorism. Er, let me get this straight. Terrorism is carried out by Saudi citizens, under the leadership of a Saudi millionaire called Osama bin Laden. If we ask too many questions about BAE arms deals with Saudi Arabia ...

"This is our cousin Osama. He does dreadful things, and we are very ashamed of him. But if you don't play ball with us, we may not be able to prevent cousin Osama and his friends attacking you."

Osama's role parallels that of Trotsky - bitterly criticizing the Saudi regime, with an international following of dedicated admirers.

Notes

The government thought "British lives on British streets" would have been at risk if an arms deal inquiry had not been dropped, court documents show. (BBC News, February 14th 2008).

‘National security’ -- the reason ultimately given for pulling the plug on this investigation -- was trotted out as a concern only when all ... other special pleadings of commercial and diplomatic consequences had failed. Nicholas Hildyard of The Corner House, press release February 14th 2008 (pdf).

See also my earlier post: No Smoke Without Fire

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