Somewhere on A1A...

Thursday, July 11, 2002

Charles Johnson blogs this Column in the Telegraph which urges its readers to stop kidding themsleves about Saudi Arabia. In it he also explains why that will be a difficult task.

In Britain, a vocal group of former ambassadors and ex-foreign policy officials, usually with business ties to the kingdom, preach the Belloc line - "Always keep a-hold of Nurse/ for fear of finding something worse." There are also straightforward political pressures. About 20,000 British expatriates live in the kingdom, mainly linked to the al-Yamamah military aircraft contracts run by BAE Systems. Several times that number back in Britain are dependent on the kingdom for jobs.

Would more democracy help? The Saudi business and technocratic middle class has always been disfranchised, but is not necessarily enlightened. In April, 126 Saudi academics and writers published an open letter saying: "We consider the United States and its current administration a first-class sponsor of international terrorism, and it along with Israel form an axis of terrorism and evil in the world."


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