There’s one rule for feudal regimes with appalling human rights records including religious and s-xual oppression – and another one for the House of Saud. Tony Blair is even happy for his citizens to pay bribes there.

Saudi Arabia makes Saddam’s Iraq look like the relatively liberal dictatorship it was on most counts. Sure, you could find yourself killed if you looked sideways at the wrong time, but if you happened to be a woman or Christian, Baghdad beat Riyadh without getting out of bed.

Yet the coalition of the stupid certainly doesn’t want to talk about that.

There was Downer of Baghdad copping a diplomatic dressing down for stating the obvious about Saudis funding various ratbags.

Now the OECD is expressing disquiet over the British government dropping a fraud inquiry into a Saudi arms deal – but Tony Blair is only enunciating coalition policy when he said continuing the Serious Fraud Office inquiry could be “devastating” for Britain’s relationship with Saudi Arabia. As the BBC reports:

He said it would affect national security, as Saudi Arabia was a key ally in the fight against terrorism, and the wider Middle East. Mr Blair also said there were some doubts as to whether a successful prosecution could have been mounted.

In addition he said thousands of British jobs could be lost – although he said that was not the reason the probe was halted. OECD rules mean diplomatic or commercial considerations should not come into play in fraud probes.

Just as well only kickbacks for Saudi princes are suspected, not a trucking fee for the Iraqi government. But Saudi Arabia is different – not only do they have most of the oil, they are also US allies. Therefore it’s perfectly OK for them to be corrupt despots.

Peter Fray

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