The brutal theocratic regime of Saudi Arabia is suddenly everyone's favourite fundamentalist gang of war criminals after announcing -- in a specially coordinated announcement at home and in Washington -- that it would be joining the 19th century in allowing women to drive.

Our close Arab ally has been drawing greater and greater attention for its ongoing atrocities in Yemen, its orchestration of a famine and contribution to the outbreak of cholera there, with many urging an end to western arms sales to the regime --  though our own Christopher Pyne is still eager to sell defence material to the Saudis. So the announcement is well-timed to distract attention from its onslaught on Yemen, to a much-hyped Saudi plan to modernise its economy.