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Standards of common decency are lacking

I read in the paper today (so it must be true) that Germany is preventing the UK from proceeding with a multi-billion pound order for Eurofighter jets from Saudi Arabia. Obsessive Brexiteer, Mark Francois MP, didn’t pass up an opportunity to tear into Germany describing Germany as “unreliable”.

It seems the Germans are maintaining a weapons embargo on the Kingdom, following the murder of journalist and regime critic, Jamal Khoshoggi in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul.

Turkey and the CIA have concluded from intercept and other evidence that “with a high degree of confidence we believe Saudi de facto ruler, Crown Prince Bin Salman, ordered the killing”.

Readers may remember that in 2018, 15 Saudi agents travelled to Turkey and, inside, what they thought was the confidentiality of their embassy, strangled Khoshoggi, cut up his body, then dissolved it in acid. His fiancé, who was waiting for him outside, never saw him again.

There was so much outrage in the UK and the USA at the time, that I recall we refused to attend a trade meeting that the Crown Prince was chairing!... Yes! … THAT MUCH outrage.

Just after Christmas, eight men were found guilty of the killing in a secret trial and five were sentenced to death. Surprisingly not one of them implicated the Crown Prince or any of his inner circle. Not one. Remarkable.

Amnesty International described the trial as “a whitewash which serves neither justice or truth.”

A ‘behind closed doors’ show trial with, what Americans would describe as ‘patsies’, ending up executed but with links to the rotten regime airbrushed out, should not be enough to get us once again cosying up to this man, even it’s in the USA’s interest.

Now I fully understand the effect on jobs in Samlesbury and Warton, as these factories and this project were a key customers of mine in a former life.

These small towns depend wholly on BAE and little new work for this or other aircraft platforms, has been secured, despite a world-wide promotional campaign.

Saudi Arabia is a vicious, ruthless, pitiless, feudal society, effectively run by one all-powerful individual, with no resemblance to democracy or the rule of law as we understand it.

They are however floating on a sea of oil and full of Sunni Muslims, who the west view as a bulwark against the even more unpleasant and much more dangerous Iranians.

Surely there have to be standards of common decency and morality that even tyrannical rulers must recognise in 2020, however sadly it seems we need an erstwhile European neighbour to remind us of what they should be.

We, Trump and world leaders should be going to King Salman and telling him we will do business with the Kingdom only once the Crown Prince has been sidelined.

Serious pressure from the international community may just make a difference. Whilst I remain uncomfortable about any new weaponry going to the Saudis, given how they are treating civilians in the Yemeni civil war, at this point, the jobs issue, perhaps becomes too big to ignore … and with Trump, Putin and Crown Prince Salman’s recent record, perhaps state-sponsored and managed extra-judicial killings are to be the new world order anyway.

John Stooke, Haydon End, Havisham Drive, Swindon

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