The United Kingdom has a long-standing relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, something which has traditionally been frowned upon by the left of British politics, but something which is now increasingly at the forefront of criticism by all sides of the political spectrum. It is perhaps the hypocrisy of it all that offends people more than anything else, the fact that we sell weapons to Saudi Arabia who execute women for showing their face in public, whilst in the same breath condemning Putin’s Russia for fighting terrorism in Syria. It is this double standard that will eventually be the undoing of the elitist clique, as it applies in almost every area of foreign policy.
Many people assume that because we do business on cordial terms with Saudi Arabia, they are somehow more deserving of our respect than other nations who have similarly questionable human rights records and so on. This is most emphatically not the case. As Louise Mensch put it quite brilliantly (for once) on television a few days ago, Saudi Arabia is essentially ISIS with an embassy. They are the respectable face of Islamic extremism, who masquerade as a wealthy, modern nation, but who are in fact just as stuck in 700 AD as the terrorists whom we are bombing in Syria and Iraq.
But sadly, rather than bombing Saudi Arabia or ignoring them as we should be, they are in fact one of our government’s most important trading partners. According to a government report, Saudi Arabia is the UK’s largest trading partner in the Middle-East. We exported £7bn worth of goods and services to the Saudis in 2014, which includes a range of things such as medicine, food products, machinery, scientific equipment and financial services. The UK also has considerable investments in Saudi Arabia, amounting to around £11.5bn as of 2014, making us the Kingdom’s second largest cumulative investor.
Of course, this is not all. It is a widely known fact that the UK, along with our allies across the pond, have been selling arms to Saudi Arabia for some time, since the 1960’s in fact. But, the scale of our arms trade with the Arab nation is underestimated by most. We sell pretty much everything and anything to the Saudis, from sniper rifle components to body army to high-tech cameras, right the way up to fighter jets. BAE Systems are the main culprits in the heavy weapons trade, as they’ve agreed to sell 72 Eurofighter jets to the Saudis as well as 55 Pilatus aircraft and 22 Hawks. The company also won a contract to train the Saudi air-force, the same Saudi air-force busily engaged in blowing up children in Yemen as this is written.
Saudi Arabia is not the sort of customer that any nation would want under normal circumstances. Considering the pressure we apply to Russia regarding human rights, it is a sign of how tightly by the groin the Saudis have us that we are comfortable to look the other way. For example, adultery (unmarried) in Saudi is punishable by 100 lashes, whilst married female adulterers can be stoned to death. Apostasy (leaving Islam) is punishable by death, usually beheading, although they do usually give you 3 days to repent and return to Islam. Blasphemy and acts of homosexuality are also punishable by death, along with a whole host of other relatively trivial indiscretions for which ISIS give out the same punishment.
However, it is not their domestic crimes for which we should not be trading with them. After all, Saudi Arabia is a sovereign nation and what they do ‘behind closed doors’ is up to them. But what does affect us directly is their promotion of Islamic terrorism and the spread of Islam through migration invasions that they are currently supporting. It is Saudi Arabia who are pushing the ideology known as Wahhabism, an Islamic sect of the most extreme kind and also coincidentally the ideology of the Islamic State. It is no coincidence that Saudi Arabia have offered to build 200 Mosques in Germany to support their recent invader influx, as it is Wahhabism that they want taught in these Mosques which encourages these Islamic invaders to wage jihad against the host nation. Saudi Arabia is a nation of Islamic imperialists of the worst kind and clearly a danger to the west.
So, why is the United Kingdom government so intent on maintaining friendly relations with this country that threatens the stability of our own?
Oil, of course, and the fact that Saudi Arabia has the money to burn on military hardware to the extent that they are our largest arms export market, buying 8x more military equipment from us than our next largest customer, the United States. From January to October 2015, the UK spent more than £900m on Saudi oil, accounting for 5% of our total oil imports. This is a marked improvement from back in the days when we first began selling arms to Saudi Arabia, at which time we relied on the Middle-East for over 80% of our oil imports. Now, the majority of our crude oil imports comes from Norway (71%), with the rest made up of imports from Africa and the Americas and the 5% we still get from the Saudis.
This is clearly the reason we will not sever our ties with Saudi Arabia, because 5% of oil imports is still a significant enough portion to harm our economy should this trade cease to occur. So in order to have leverage over the Saudis it is not that we need to unilaterally stop selling arms to them, but rather we need to be able to stop purchasing their oil. If this 5% cannot be made up through oil imports from elsewhere, then there is a strong case for replacing this segment of our energy supply with renewable energy sources, or perhaps even through nuclear energy. The technological advancements made with electric cars will help in this area, as will the deals recently struck with France and China concerning the construction of new nuclear power plants in the UK, but it is clear we need to do more to end our reliance on the Middle-East once and for all.
Perhaps once our ‘leaders’ think outside the box on this matter, they will have the economic freedom to avoid bowing to Saudi ‘royalty’ in future, something which should be seen as a national embarrassment.