The West should get out of bed with the House of Saud

Posted on: 05 November 2015 by Gareth Hargreaves

Intelligence Squared panel debates the West's continued alliance with Saudi Arabia

 

When Channel 4 news presenter Jon Snow interviewed prime minister David Cameron on 6 October 2015, he sought an answer to a simple question. It wasn't a condemnation of Saudi Arabia's decision to behead and crucify 20 year-old pro-democracy activist Ali al-Nimr as the PM was probably expecting. Rather, Snow manoeuvered for a more fundamental explanation of why in 2013 a secret deal was concluded that sealed the Arab state's position on the United Nations Human Rights Council.  

Cameron batted back Snow's question no fewer than five times and cited the relationship between his government and that of King Salman in more general terms - with the Saudis being a strong partner in the region, providing us with essential intelligence on issues of national security. 

The prime minister's posture and evasive answers highlight a significant fracture in our foreign policy and our waning sphere of influence in the region. That a nation with such a poor record on human rights should be effectively sponsored (by the UK) into a position of sway on UNHRC panels undermines the very purpose of the organisation.  

Earlier this year, Intelligence Squared held an event at Cadogan Hall in London to debate the motion 'The West should get out of bed with the House of Saud'. While It is clear there is no political will, on either side of the Atlantic, to discuss the human rights record of King Salman’s rich and strategically important country. Thankfully, this Intelligence Squared panel are happy to put forward cases for and against the West's continued support of Saud Arabia. 

Speaking for the motion, Egyptian-American journalist, Mona Eltahy and US Foreign policy expert Hilary Mann.  

Speaking against the motion, the writer and lecturer on world affairs, James Rubin and Sir Alan Duncan, Minister of State for International Development between 2010-14.

This debate is followed by an audience participation vote. How will your view be swayed? 

 

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