story the BBC have picked up. Here are one or two rather vitriolic thoughts on the subject. It's a strange thing, but Saudi Arabia is our friend - despite having some very brutal laws. Women have hardly any rights. And a man can get into trouble with the police for buying flowers in mid-Feb because he might have a girlfriend, which is illegal. If you want to hold hands with a girl, marry her first. And then you can hold hands behind closed doors. And for goodness sake keep her covered up. It seems like a horribly repressive country to live in, just the sort of place that foreign policy hawks love to talk of 'liberating' (whatever that means. 'Bombing' I think.). And the Bin Ladens are from Saudi. Osama's money came from Saudi. And nearly all of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudis. Wow, a repressive, religiously extreme Middle Eastern country implicated in a terrorist attack on the U.S.? It's no wonder we invaded. Oh but wait, we invaded the country where girls could wear jeans, go to college - and even smile - without fear of being stoned in the street. It's difficult to find something bad that Iraq did that Saudi Arabia didn't do more of. Except that Iraq invaded its neighbours. Twice. Which is straightforward enough, except that the first time we supported them. We even supplied them with weapons and poison gas. And we raised not a grumble when they used them. It was the second time they invaded a neighbour that annoyed us. After all, Britain carved up Mesopotamia and decided to scoop out a little chunk of land and call it Kuwait. We decided the borders of Iraq and they had no place trying to alter them. We only armed them to keep Iran in check, not to do as they please. So when instead of slaughtering Iranians, Marsh Arabs and Kurds, Iraq started menacing Kuwaitis, of course we had to act. It was the only humane thing to do. And we demanded they hand back any of our poison gas they hadn't used yet. The regime might not have changed, but our attitude had. They were no longer the good guys. Besides which, when 9/11 occurred, it would hardly have been good business sense to follow the 9/11 terrorists to their real source - not when Saudi own a huge chunk of the U.S. stock market - not to mention so many of our most lucrative weapon systems. But there was a price to pay for doing the right thing, of course. The U.S. is bankrupt, financially and morally, Iraq is now a smoking ruin, its secular culture a thing of the past, and Iran is no longer penned up - in fact it's running half of Iraq these days. We may even have to get involved in another war in a little while when the merged Iran/Iraq menaces our other good pal in the region, that defender of Palestinian rights: Israel. But still, it's the principle of the thing. If a guy wants to buy a girl flowers in a Middle Eastern Muslim country, there's nothing to stop him now. Just provided he's American and he does so within the Green Zone of course.
Wow. The Saudi leadership are believed to have more or less blackmailed Tony Blair into shutting down the British Aerospace bribery investigation by threatening to reduce cooperation in tracking down terrorists. And since the most notorious terrorists to date were Saudis operating with Saudi money, I suppose we need Saudi government 'help' in protecting ourselves from them. The story is here. With some countries, we like to urge them towards democracy and offer aid as an incentive. Some other countries we just have to give criminal immunity to because otherwise they might expose us to their terrorists and if we make a fuss about that, they might not let us pay them huge bribes to buy our weapon systems any more. It's not as abusive a relationship as the UK has with the US, but it's pretty messed up, no?