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Britain is two-faced over Saudi Arabia

13 18 16

On 6 July, in a statement to the House of Commons, the Conservative Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab unveiled an important plank in Britain’s post-Brexit foreign policy. For the first time in decades the country would unilaterally invoke sanctions against individuals and organisations deemed to have grossly violated human rights through such acts as assassinations, extra-judicial killings, torture and degrading treatment, slavery and forced labour. Action against perpetrators would mainly take the form of seizure of assets and travel bans.

It was striking that of the almost 50 names cited by the minister, 20 were from Saudi Arabia, including Saud Al-Qahtani, formerly a close advisor to the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS). It is no coincidence that Al-Qahtani, along with Ahmed Al-Asiri, Deputy Head of the Kingdom’s Intelligence Service, and other Saudis on the list had just a few days previously been indicted in absentia in a court in Istanbul, charged with the unlawful killing of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in that city in October 2018.

The details of that crime, in which Khashoggi was allegedly strangled and then dismembered in the building before his remains were spirited away to an unknown location, shocked the world. Five unnamed men were tried and sentenced to death for the killing at a trial in Saudi Arabia last December which observers were not allowed to attend. But both the Turkish and British authorities believe that verdict was an attempt to brush the affair under the carpet. Undeterred, the charges in Turkey and by Britain are now levelled at 15 members of a hit team allegedly sent to Turkey to carry out the operation as well as the men who are believed to have orchestrated it.

READ: UK ‘complicit’ in devastating ‘unlawful’ Saudi led blockade of Yemen

When announcing the asset seizures and travel bans targeting the 20 men (along with others from Russia, North Korea and Myanmar), Raab declared unambiguously that, “today this government and this house sends a very clear message........

© Middle East Monitor