Is Boris Johnson right to criticise Saudi Arabia?
UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has voiced harsh criticism of Iran and Saudi Arabia. In a video published by the British daily The Guardian he accused the countries of waging proxy wars in the Middle East with tragic consequences for the populations there. Officially Britain is a close ally of Saudi Arabia. The British press praises his frank words but feels they should be followed by deeds.
At last someone is being frank
Polite diplomatic restraint has done nothing for the victims of the civil wars in the Middle East, The Independent writes in defence of the British Foreign Secretary:
“We shouldn’t mock Boris for telling a few home truths about the nature of politics in that part of the world. As it happens, these things do need to be said, and why not in public (or at least, in this case, semi-public)? After all, the traditional approach - quiet words in regal ears, 'behind-the-scenes' lobbying, men of the world getting frank with each other over a lavish banquet - hasn’t done much good for the orphans of Yemen or the refugees of Syria. For the liberal critics of Boris Johnson the hypocrisy is astonishing; our Foreign Secretary is merely saying exactly what they have been urging every representative of HMG to declare since time immemorial.”
Follow words with deeds
The British foreign secretary should have the courage to follow up on his critical remarks about Saudi Arabia by putting bilateral relations on a far more critical basis, The Guardian urges:
“Suspend UK arms sales until the UN certifies that Riyadh is respecting international law. Stand up for the defenders of human rights in Bahrain. Encourage Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in his supposed push for internal reform, especially women’s rights. Defy Donald Trump and deepen Barack Obama’s opening to Iran. Work to break the Saudi-Sunni mindset of religious war-making. In other words, Boris, put your money where your big mouth is.”