Robert Fisk: The dumping ground for despots welcomes another

We haven't weaned ourselves off the little Hitlers of the Middle East

Share
Related Topics

Please see letter relating to this article published on 16 June 2011 from the Information Affairs Authority of Bahrain

Saudi Arabia is a great dumping ground for despots. Remember Idi Amin? We Brits loved him once, but when he turned against us and started eating his enemies – and keeping the occasional head in the fridge – we were happy he fled into exile in Saudi Arabia. Then there was Ben Ali of Tunisia who flew off to the kingdom with his wife and an awful lot of money this year when the people could no longer tolerate him. We used to like Ben Ali – the French more than others – because he was a "symbol of stability". And now Ali Abdullah Saleh – who also used to be our hero in the "war on terror" – is wounded in the chest and freighted off to hospital in Riyadh.

Yes, we're all grateful to the House of Saud when they take these rogues off our hands – when, of course, they have outrun their uses to us – especially when our demand for democracy fits rather uneasily with our continued sympathy for the local dictatorships. Ergo Syria – but let's not go into that right now. The US embassy in Sanaa may yet choose one of Saleh's family to continue his regime in the face of all the usual suspects (al-Qa'ida, separatists, tribal rivals, fill in the blank spots).

No, still we haven't weaned ourselves off the little Hitlers of the Middle East – which is why we go on supporting the greatest of all repositories for bad guys, Saudi Arabia itself.

True, there might be civil war in Yemen. There always has been a kind of civil war since "Mad Mitch" stormed the Crater district of Aden and the Brits retreated leaving a divided Yemen in their wake.

The Saudis will be happy to keep Saleh because he wasn't much good at fighting Shias – the all-powerful enemy (I am looking through the corrupting spectacles of the ancient princes of the realm when I say this) of their Sunni emirs and caliphs. The same reason, by the way, why the Saudis invaded Bahrain to prop up the minority al-Khalifa Sunnis and help to bulldoze the ancient mosques belonging to the Shia majority under the preposterous excuse that they were invited into Bahrain to "keep order". I seem to remember some 20th-century Europeans who used similar arguments (one of them a fat Italian, the other a former corporal with a moustache). And like ourselves back in the 1930s, we say, well, they might be a force for stability, these chaps. None of this is worth all-out war. Which is why brave and democratic Obama didn't mention the plucky Saudis in his ridiculous peroration in Washington.

As for Gaddafi, you can see why he fights on. He could go to Burkino Faso, I guess, but he'll cling on to prove what a bunch of wombats Nato are – even if he ends up on the end of a rope. Three down, three to go (alas, I am referring to Bahrain). Then there's a seventh. No, of course I didn't say Saudi Arabia.


* Read the report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry


 

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Digital Marketing Manger,Mill Hill,London

To £55kpa (12 Month Contract): Charter Selection: Major household name charity...

Project Co-ordinator/Administrator - Central London

£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based i...

Linux Systems Administrator - UNIX, Linux, Shell, Bash

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Linux Systems Administrator - UNI...

UNIX Systems Administrator - Oracle DBA, UNIX, Scripting

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Systems Administrator - Orac...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Here's how to turn the tables on tax avoiders

James Moore
Here's a  

Why shouldn't a gay couple be able to have their cake and eat it too?

Louise Scodie
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil