by Martin Odoni

Crown Prince Mohammed bin-Salman, of the House of al-Saud, is a politician. That may sound like a grossly obvious description, but it is meant as a condemnation. He is a politician in the sense that so many professional politicians are capable of the most grotesque hypocrisy, moral inconsistency, and deliberate twisted logic.

bin Salman hypocrite

The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia exploits a terrorist attack to condemn Iran, while insisting that no one should condemn him for a murder he definitely ordered.

I am sure everyone is aware by now of the attacks on two tankers – one Japanese and one Norwegian – in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday. There has been a highly prejudicial and, obviously politically-motivated, attempt to blame the blasts that rocked the tankers on the regime governing the Shi’a Republic of Iran. Now, the evidence for this, presented in an undignified rush by Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, has been criticised as unreliable. It also runs contrary to eye-witness accounts provided by the crew of the Japanese tanker, who state that the ship was struck by an airborne object, whereas Pompeo’s presentation indicated that it was damaged by a limpet-mine that had been attached to its hull.

Now, there are all manner of reasons, beyond the differing testimonies of the people who were actually there, to treat Pompeo’s story with skepticism. The video provided – purportedly of Iranian Revolutionary Guardsmen removing evidence from the hull of the Japanese tanker – is suspicious at best, given it seems unlikely that US surveillance would have been monitoring the tankers so closely at the moment the pictures were supposedly captured, unless they already knew the mines had been fastened to the ships. If that was the case, why did they not send a warning to the tanker captains?

It is still possible that Iran was behind the attacks, but that is not a conclusion that can be drawn with honest confidence on present information.

With this in mind, Jeremy Corbyn, always maligned as a ‘fool’ and yet in practice always on the side of sensible and rational caution, has warned against blindly following the American lead. The response to this has been a predictable tidal wave of social media attacks on Corbyn, especially from Tory MPs, implying his insistence on critical thinking and evidence-based assessment demonstrates some kind of moral failing. Even to the extent of contradicting themselves.

Hunt showing usual Tory moral consistency

Jeremy Hunt showing his usual moral and intellectual solidity.

In all of this nausea-inducing hypocrisy, it should be impossible to judge whose knee-jerk deceitfulness is the worst. But the House of al-Saud specialises in being abhorrent in ways few other parts of the world can rival, and sure enough, bin-Salman has found a way.

The current Crown Prince is often lauded by Western Governments and media as a ‘liberal reformer’ leader, and less of a brutal autocrat than his predecessors. This is technically true, but all that really demonstrates is what horrific dinosaurs the previous generations of Emirs and Crown Princes were. By any standards, bin Salman is bloodthirsty, aggressive, and reckless, and his ‘modern outlook’ has little to do with a respect for human rights and individual liberty. Instead, he is just open-minded enough to recognise that Saudi Arabia has a lot of catching-up to do in the world of science and technology, especially if it is to survive in a relatively near-future in which Anthropogenic Climate Change is likely to force an end to the Oil Age. Hence his reforms; he wants efficiency, not justice.

Sure enough, bin-Salman’s reaction to the tanker attacks has been absolutely textbook opportunist-politics. While offering no more evidence than the US has provided, he has publicly accused Iran of being behind the attacks.

We do not want a war in the region… But we won’t hesitate to deal with any threat to our people, our sovereignty, our territorial integrity and our vital interests… The Iranian regime did not respect the presence of the Japanese prime minister as a guest in Tehran and responded to his [diplomatic] efforts by attacking two tankers

Now, it is quite vomit-inducing enough that Saudi Arabia is trying to claim some kind of moral superiority in any situation. Sure, Iran is a very repressive country, and its regime clearly has links to a number of Shi’a terrorist groups in the Middle East. But Saudi Arabia is also a very repressive country, and has at least as many links to Wahhabist-Sunni terrorist groups across the region, and probably all around the world. Quite what bin-Salman thinks the attacks even have to do with Saudi Arabia is very unclear too.

But worse than this, less than twenty-four hours after exploiting the tanker attacks to score points against the Ayatollahs, bin-Salman has issued a statement obliquely criticising officials in the Turkish Government. The reason? Bin-Salman seems convinced that the Turks are “exploiting” the horrifically bloody murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Autumn last year (yet another Saudi atrocity that receives the sort of muted response from British politicians that a similar Iranian deed would never get).

That murder in itself is enough to sever any contact the Crown Prince has with the moral high ground for the rest of his life. But for him to criticise political exploitation of an atrocity less than a day after he was committing the same crime gives off an unholy stink of hypocrisy that spreads around the world. I mean, at least we have ample reason to be confident that Saudi Arabia was behind the Khashoggi murder. At present, there is no confidence that Iran is behind the tanker attacks.

The Iranian Government is a hideous regime, no one is disputing that. But the circle the West cannot square is its hostility to Iran going hand-in-hand with its closeness to the House of al-Saud.

All the evidence of the two years since bin-Salman became Crown Prince shows that he is not the man to ‘launder’ that relationship.

Advertisements

by Martin Odoni

FOREWORD: The following is an opening excerpt from an article I have written for The Prole Star.

Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist from Saudi Arabia who, in recent years has been resident in the United States of America, has been missing since the 2nd of October. Khashoggi was visiting the Saudi Consulate in Turkey to obtain some personal documents. CCTV images very clearly show him entering the Consulate, but there are no images of him leaving afterwards.

Khashoggi enters the Saudi Consulate, Istanbul c/o AFP PHOTO / DHA

CCTV image of Jamal Khashoggi entering the Saudi Consulate, Istanbul, on 2nd October 2018. There is no apparent footage of him ever leaving it subsequently. Photo c/o AFP PHOTO / DHA

Khashoggi is almost certainly dead, and if he is, it is certain that the Saudis murdered him. Were he alive and held at the Consulate, it would have been very easy for the Saudis to have paraded him on television at any stage, and so cool the growing controversy. Moreover, Khashoggi has been highly critical of the House of al-Saud over the last few years, and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman clearly sees him as a ‘traitor’. According to some reports, Khashoggi had publicly claimed in August that the Saudi regime wanted him dead.

This chapter demonstrates that anyone who thinks the positive-but-shallow gesture of allowing women to drive marks the end of Saudi Arabia’s gruesome history of repression is naive in the extreme.

TO CONTINUE READING, PLEASE SEE THE FULL ARTICLE ON THE PROLE STAR.