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A double standard for Saudi Arabia

Written By: - Date published: 7:06 am, April 28th, 2015 - 119 comments
Categories: International, trade, war - Tags: , , , ,

Andrea Vance wrote yesterday on Key’s current trip to Saudi Arabia (all quotes from this piece). It’s a country with a deeply troubling record on human rights:

Amnesty International’s New Zealand executive director Grant Bayldon said Saudi Arabia’s justice system was “a sham.”

Research published by Amnesty International last month found human rights activists were routinely harassed and ill-treated in detention and the use of torture by the security forces was widespread.

“The Saudi Arabian disrespect for human rights is absolutely breath-taking. People are held without trial, they are tortured into confessing crimes. They are convicted in shameful trials without legal support and those trials regularly end in horrific floggings, amputations and public beheadings,” Bayldon said.

More than 50 people have this year been killed by the regime, which leaves corpses on public display as a gruesome crime deterrent. … Floggings and the amputation of limbs are used as punishment.

In January, footage showing Burmese woman Layla bint Abdul Mutaleb Bassim dragged down the street to her death shocked the world. Accused of killing her six-year-old stepdaughter, Bassim was thrown to the ground in the holy city of Mecca. As she screamed her innocence, a curved sword, swung by an executioner in traditional white robes, severed her head.

Of Islamic State Key said “I will not, will not, stand by while …people are out there being beheaded”, but he is in Saudi Arabia looking for a trade deal. So why the double standard? Key’s reasoning:

“…In the case of ISIL they don’t act within the laws of their country, they are not a country. Indonesia, they have the death penalty. United States, they have the death penalty. They have a judicial process,” he said. “That’s just not the case with ISIL, they are terrorists who undertake murder against people.”

Being a country with a “judicial process” doesn’t make wrong right. Iraq was a country with a judicial process that the “coalition of the willing” invaded and destroyed (John Key cheered them on) – incidentally creating the power vacuum that spawned ISIL. If Saudi Arabia’s justice system and human rights record is as bad as Amnesty says it is, then this is not a country that we should be seeking closer economic ties with.

119 comments on “A double standard for Saudi Arabia”

  1. ropata 1

    human rights, environmental destruction, social costs, are not accounted as any value in the capitalist imperative

    • Grace Miller 1.1

      That’s right. As long as they have the oil, the West grovels.

      Shameful, AND shameless. That’s quite a coup, Dunnokeyo.

  2. vto 2

    John Key’s dirty reasoning again highlights the sole difference between terrorists and warmongering countries – and that is nothing but semantics.

    Acts on the ground are the same by both ISIL and by Saudi Arabia. Both behead, both torture, both abuse human rights, both are disgusting pigs

    The sole difference is words – and the words legitimise the terrorist acts.

    That sole difference is meaningless.

    ISIL and Saudi Arabia are the same

  3. vto 3

    It is just like WWI and the bloody gallipolli bullshit again – we are fighting a war between empires. We are not fighting for what is right and wrong.

    Just like WWI when we fought to expand and protect Britains empire and its stormtroopers, right now today we fight to expand and protect the US empire and its stormtroopers

    We should be ashamed.

    The men who died at gallipolli would be appalled at John Key

    The men who died at Gallipolli died for nothing.

  4. felix 4

    “They have a judicial process,” he said. “That’s just not the case with ISIL, they are terrorists who undertake murder against people.”

    Sadly it actually gets far worse in terms of justification.

    Corrin Dann interviewed Key on q+a this Sunday, and actually asked some very good questions.

    When challenged on the hypocrisy of condemning beheadings by ISIL while kowtowing to the Saudis, Key started answering with a ‘yeah but we trade with lots of states we don’t approve of’ line.

    To which Dann followed up: “On the logic of that argument, does that mean that if ISIL became a state and somehow formed a proper government, we could do trade with them?

    Key: “With the greatest disrespect[???] to Saudi Arabia, um, they are taking those kinds of steps and where I utterly reject them and don’t believe they should do that, but they’re taking against their own citizens

    Get that? The Saudis chop peoples’ heads off too, but they own those people so they can do what they like to them. The trouble with ISIL is that they don’t own any people.

    • vto 4.1

      ha ha poor old john key – has no idea whatsoever

      somebody posted that the ice of john key has started to melt away

      I think you just witnessed another drip melting away

      • felix 4.1.1

        And like those old veges frozen to the back of the fridge, they really start to stink when they thaw.

    • TheContrarian 4.2

      Makes my head spin (pun intended)

    • dukeofurl 4.3

      Their own citizens ??

      Pull the other one – maybe not.

      A lot of those beheaded can be migrant workers

    • I thought the problem with Saddam was that he gassed ‘his own citizens’.

      But now doing horrendous things only to your domestic population is what makes it ok??

      • Murray Rawshark 4.4.1

        Nah, they loved him when he was doing that. They went right off him when he started to talk about selling oil for euros.

    • Tracey 4.5

      What about something simple, like letting women, vote… (so theirs can matter as little as everyone elses), … :we: invaded Iraq so the kuwaitis could give their women the vote! 😉

      Of course, we will trade with them, like China, cos by trading we bring the light of revelation to them, China no longer abuses human rights aye?

  5. Dave_1924 5

    Amnesty decides who is a recognised state and who has a functioning justice system? So Amnesty Intl decides who NZ trades with?

    Interesting.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 5.1

      Interesting facile gibberish, in the sense that it provides a brief glimpse into how twisted a person’s thought process can be.

      • Dave_1924 5.1.1

        OAB – your usual response to anyone who thinks differently to you. Attack the messenger…

        We have an elected government… they make decisions. Not Amnesty International.

        Should we stop trading with China, where things are as the party says and people lose their properties to developers who are connected to the ruling party? Where executions happen regularly and organs are harvested from the executed for sale? Where access to the internet is dictated by what the state says is ok? Where a whole separate country is annexed and its people harshly suppressed [Tibet]

        How about Australia? Second biggest market for us… Aboriginal rights issues

        We traded freely with the Soviet union and its satellite states …. gulags, disappearances, show trials and executions for impure political thought.

        How about trade with Switzerland – who give shelter to monies generated from tyranny, slavery and drugs via its banking privacy laws

        Where does it stop?

        I take it we should stop trading with the world unless we have an independent ethical committee telling us a country is approved…

        Its a big bad world, if we stop trading we can all kiss a large amount of our jobs goodbye and ratchet our economy back to an agricultural based economy with little modern tech. Sounds wonderful…. /sarc

        • les 5.1.1.1

          thats a great post.It begs the question about the morality of mankind….is life just a big ‘magic show’?

        • One Anonymous Bloke 5.1.1.2

          That’s exactly what I’m talking about: you’re so busy telling everyone what they think, you’ve no room to hear what they actually think.

          I note you have gone from claiming no-one raised China’s human rights record, to claiming that we want to stop all international trade.

          That’s an attack upon your gibberish, and the political point-scoring thought process that spawned it. As distinct from an attack on you personally. Please try and learn the difference, you fucking idiot.

          • Dave_1924 5.1.1.2.1

            Actually OAB I asked a question in my first post. In response I have stated my position and why I think it – i.e. where does it stop and the consequences.

            Think what you want to think OAB…. and as for this

            “I note you have gone from claiming no-one raised China’s human rights record, to claiming that we want to stop all international trade.”

            No OAB I did not. You understand what a question mark means at the end of a sentence? It means its a question…. Nice attempt to divert by claiming I have made a declaration when in fact I asked a set of questions…

            So where does it end OAB? Do we stop trading with everyone that a self appointed group like Amnesty Intl don’t think fit their world view?

            I say no we trade and reap the benefits of economic activity. your free to think what you like, I have no desire to control you whatsoever.

            What do you say on trade OAB?

            • One Anonymous Bloke 5.1.1.2.1.1

              I like to know something about the folk I’m doing business with. If they routinely murder people the deal is off.

              What’s with you and Amnesty International? Got you all bent out of shape have they?

              • Dave_1924

                Amnesty… they do some good work OAB. But international trade is not their specialty.

                I look at their statements of don’t trade with the Saudi’s because they are barbarians and think according to who’s standards? And who gets to judge? Are Amnesty saying Western ideals needed to be held by all the world regardless of their culture/religion/worldview??? Sounds Cultural Imperialist of Amnesty to me…..

                I look and see the world is full, chocka, replete with regimes I don’t like from the business backed gangsters running things in Central America to the repressive supposedly communist regime in China to the strongman regimes of Africa to elected repressions of Western Europe where a non PC word is almost a hanging offence.

                Trade generates economic benefits and as long as we want a certain level of life style in NZ we need to engage in trade. And as my previous post stated there seem to be human rights issues scattered around virtually any country you care to name

                Again I say trade and change the world slowly through personal contact and opening a window on a slightly more enlightened society like ours… where at least we are free enough to have each other on in political debate with thinking we will be sent to a gulag in the sub Antarctic islands…

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  Sure, do business with cartels, thugs, mass murderers and thieves as much as you like. Just watch out for the Proceeds of Crimes Act as you raise the double standard.

                • Tracey

                  How’s that window going in China?

        • Tracey 5.1.1.3

          “Should we stop trading with China, where things are as the party says and people lose their properties to developers who are connected to the ruling party? Where executions happen regularly and organs are harvested from the executed for sale? Where access to the internet is dictated by what the state says is ok? Where a whole separate country is annexed and its people harshly suppressed [Tibet]”

          Yes

          Your list shows that what makes it a bad world is good people lining their own pockets because (shrug) there’s nothing else for it.

          • Dave_1924 5.1.1.3.1

            Nice argument Tracey. So you’re the government and you decide to stop trading with China based on their appalling human rights records. Which other countries do we stop trading with?

            A lot of them have dodgy ethical business going on including the Swiss and their banking system, Sweden with its wealth partially built on its trading activies during the 2nd World War. How far back do we look for moral/ethical dodginess in a country?

            And do you think our withdrawal from a large chunk of our current trading relations on ethical and moral reasons will have no negative consequences for the most vulnerable in our society? Because a systematic withdrawal as you seem to suggest we should do would leave us unable to support the current welfare state, would impact on our public healthcare system [loss of access to pharmaceuticals, medical equipment etc which we could no longer pay for].

            • Tracey 5.1.1.3.1.1

              Ah, so your argument is that we are actually helping the vulnerable in NZ by trading with, and lining the pockets of people in other countries who treat people appallingly.

              I am guessing you are not vulnerable Dave, to be so blase about their lives, here and abroad.

              I wonder why Saudia Arabia signed up to the Convention of Human Rights.

              But you are right (shrug), there is nothing we can do, just keep being complicit to appalling human rights practices so the vulnerable in NZ can live well.

              • Draco T Bastard

                +1

                As I say. We don’t need FTAs, we just need to define the conditions under which we will trade. IMO, those conditions should stop us from trading with quite a few countries including the US because of their appalling records of abuses.

            • Draco T Bastard 5.1.1.3.1.2

              Because a systematic withdrawal as you seem to suggest we should do would leave us unable to support the current welfare state

              Of course, we probably wouldn’t need a welfare state as the chances are that we’d have more work to do than we have labour to do it while we bring our economy up to speed.

              would impact on our public healthcare system [loss of access to pharmaceuticals, medical equipment etc which we could no longer pay for].

              We do, as a matter of fact, produce pharmaceuticals in NZ. No reason for that to change. It just means that it would all be produced for NZ rather than for export. F&P NZ is also one of the worlds best producers of medical equipment as well.

        • Draco T Bastard 5.1.1.4

          Its a big bad world, if we stop trading we can all kiss a large amount of our jobs goodbye and ratchet our economy back to an agricultural based economy with little modern tech.

          Actually, the exact opposite would happen. We have both the resources and capability to produce our own high tech right here in NZ and we’d be incentivised to do so because of that lack of trade.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 5.2

      Do you have any opinion at all of Key’s reasoning that Saudi citizens (as well as Houthi rebels) are fair game whereas ISIS’s victims are not?

      Does his weasel sophistry move you in any way? Apart from the reflexive atavistic urge to attack the Left, that is?

      • Dave_1924 5.2.1

        I don’t like the Saudi regime. I don’t like repression whether its Islamic, Communist, Fascist, Socialist, Capitalist in its ideology OAB.

        Is Key right in his logic that ISIL needs opposing, not sure on his logic its pretty tenuous… But he has to look after the countries interests and for NZ that means maintaning and growing trade to create/support jobs here in NZ. Rock and a hard place where pure political theory doesn’t always help much

        But I do think ISIL need opposing. They are openly avowing war on our Western Society and are openly slaughtering people for what ever reason they think is justified at the time, referencing the Qu’ran.

        Is there a case to pressure Saudi about its treatment of its citizens – yeah there is. Its a medieval absolute monarchy with a lashing of religious zealotry thrown in. But it does have authority based on the the fact the House of Saud established the country and it has a set of published laws.. much as I think those laws are crap. And its authority as a sovereign state is recognised international.

        As for the Saudi action in Yemen its just standard geopolitics – another chapter in Sunni v Shia, Saudi v Iran clash about who will dominate the Arabian peninsula and the Persian gulf. Blood and Iron in action – ethics and morals don’t count in real world real politik.

        None of that will please use OAB, but there it is… Have a nice day

        • Puddleglum 5.2.1.1

          HI Dave_1924,

          If ISIL were willing to buy our dairy products would it be ok for us to trade with them?

          Also, I think the point is not so much with whom we should be trading but whether our decisions about who to declare war against (and who not to declare war against) are on matters of moral principle – as John Key seems to be claiming in the case of ISIL – or on purely pragmatic matters with no reference to any ethical or moral principles.

          If the latter, then ISIL are just ‘unlucky’ at the moment in terms of the approach that the current government is taking to them. In different circumstances what they are doing would not prevent the current government doing deals with them.

          Also, if the latter that would be ‘fine’ (in one sense) if it weren’t for the fact that the government would then be publicly lying about the reasons for its decisions about ISIL.

          If the former then the question remains – why is Saudi Arabia an exception to this moral principle, given the similarity between its behaviour and ISIL’s?

          • Dave_1924 5.2.1.1.1

            ISIL and Trade – no. Recognised terrorist group. But I am sure that indirectly we are trading with them anyway, the black market will be supplying them and doubtless some NZ goods will be in there somewhere anyway

            Declaring war. War in most instances is morally indefensible. Moral justifications are woven out of a framework of usual suspect stock phrases.

            Ultimately its matter of national interests. The Key government has made a decision that they see it in NZ’s national interests to support the war on ISIL.

            Making war on ISIL given there declaration of Jihad on the West seems to be in our national interest to me, so I’m not concerned by it

            As for Saudi…. again a recognised state with a lot of power. its real politik. So yes ISIL is “unlucky” to use your terms

            • Tracey 5.2.1.1.1.1

              oh so there is a line that can be drawn. I am confused, above you specifically asked where the line could be drawn, almost as if it couldnt. But now you have. I hope the vulnerable of NZ don’t suffer too badly for this new line.

            • Puddleglum 5.2.1.1.1.2

              Thanks Dave_24 for the reply.

              Yes, no doubt it’s ‘real politik’ which is why it would be useful to grill the government about the particular calculations that went into the decision to send troops.

              Otherwise they get away with fatuous declarations about being offended by brutality which would be ok except for the fact that some people (perhaps even the soldiers) appear to believe those declarations and so remain ignorant as to why young New Zealanders are being sent into a dangerous situation.

              It is perfectly possible to present a ‘real politik’ case for going to war. This effort to hitch a ride on particular horror stories of beheadings and burnings is condescending and shows no respect for New Zealanders.

              And I don’t care that it may well be ‘business as usual’ to trot out these kinds of excuses – in fact, if it is BAU then that is an even stronger reason to keep calling governments on this kind of deceit.

  6. mary_a 6

    Saudi Arabia has the dollars and oil.

    ISIS does not.

    Saudi Arabia finances ISIS, thereby assisting the organization to carry out violence against humanity!

    Saudi Arabia is up to its obscenely wealthy neck in human rights abuses and atrocities!

    Key turns a convenient blind eye.

    Key wants to trade with Saudi Arabia!!!!!

    Key is a hypocrite of the worst possible kind.

  7. ICD 7

    Where was your outrage when the Labour government under Helen Clark reached a free trade agreement with China? Their human rights record at the time wasn’t exactly something to write home about and they executed thousands every year back then…

    • vto 7.1

      Go back and have a look. It was right there. Same. Egg

    • But was the Helen Clark government also going to war against a regime that acted in a similar way to China and justifying that war on the basis of such behaviour?

      The question is about the inconsistent application of principles in justifications for serious matters like sending troops to a theatre of war.

      The public should not be fed false reasons for such serious decisions.

      • alwyn 7.2.1

        The Clark Government did go to war against such people actually. They sent troops to Iraq didn’t they?. The announced reason was humanitarian aid by “non-combat” engineers but that wasn’t the truth was it?

        The evidence is that their main reason for sending these troops to Iraq was to improve the trade prospects for Fonterra.
        Thus they appear to have “fed false reasons for such serious decisions” to the New Zealand public.

        http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10695490

        Just how different is that to us sending troops to help train the Iraqi army?

        • Puddleglum 7.2.1.1

          Hi alwyn,

          From your link:

          One of hundreds of leaked diplomatic cables, the information from the US Embassy in Wellington said the identities of the unnamed defence staff should be “strictly protected”, after they briefed embassy staff on a Cabinet meeting in which Miss Clark’s government did an about turn on sending troops to Iraq, the Dominion Post reported.

          The sources for the information appear to be defence staff in the MOD whose names needed to be “strictly protected” in the cables (rather than, e.g., a direct cable from the government). If we can assume that what these unnamed MOD staff members said is correct then the stated reasons for sending engineers to Iraq – clearly a dangerous situation – were false.

          I have no particular reason to defend the foreign policy decisions of the Clark government.

          One difference between that case and this, of course, is that the reasons given (humanitarian, etc.) to send engineers to Iraq mean that the equivalent accusation that could be made against the Clark government would be “Why are you still trading with places that also need army engineers to help rebuild?” It doesn’t really make sense as an accusation.

          Compare: “Why are you trading with a places that commit the same atrocities as those whose actions you are responding to by sending trainers to train those who might wish to fight them?” (a bit clumsy but hopefully you see the point)

          That is, the accusation that could be made against the Clark government doesn’t have quite the same moral ‘heft’ as the accusation that could be laid at the door of the current government.

          • RedBaronCV 7.2.1.1.1

            So unnamed defence staff told the US embassy about a cabinet meeting discussion. That’s pretty close to treason isn’t it? nact supporters?

    • Tracey 7.3

      Mine was there, and still is. Trade is not proven to improve human rights records. Giving the Olympics hasn’t improve human rights records. IN the case of Australia and Beijing it worsen it during the “sanitisation” period of the actual games.

  8. cogito 8

    Quite obviously none of those posting the above comments have ever been to Saudi Arabia, nor have actually ever engaged with Saudis.

    • vto 8.1

      Nor met with h1tler, had a cup of tea with Genghis Khan, invited George Bush over for dinner, ran on the grass with …… (insert favourite fuckwit) …..

      a no point post cogito

      • cogito 8.1.1

        ignorant peasant.

        • vto 8.1.1.1

          just what is your point cogito?

          • cogito 8.1.1.1.1

            Saudi was my stomping ground for years. I know it well. It is not as portrayed above. When I was working there, there were eg 20,000 Brits living and working just in Jeddah, not to mention the rest of the country . Saudis are cultured and polite, many are very well educated. I never had any problems whatsoever with them. I could walk down the street at 2am and feel completely safe. I very much enjoyed my time in Saudi, and it upsets me somewhat when I see the country slammed by people who have no knowledge of it at all.

            • vto 8.1.1.1.1.1

              but none of that lines up against the beheadings and torture and ritual abuse of human rights…. where is all of that cogito? did you not see it when there? does it not exist?

              still don’t get your point

              • cogito

                It is a conservative Islamic country that works under sharia law. It places all sorts of restrictions on people and enforces some severe punishments. Every time I flew into Saudi I had to sign a declaration that I understood that I was liable to capital punishment if I was found guilty of certain offences. That said, it was a well ordered country where it was possible to conduct business, meet people and engage positively. It was nothing like eg Iraq (where I have also spent time) which felt like a police state.

                • vto

                  so what do you think of those fine upstanding Saudis beheading 50 people so far this year? And leaving their corpses in the street for others to see as a deterrent? And dragging women through the streets? Is that what you signed up to? Clearly it was …….. how do you feel about supporting that?

                  • cogito

                    That has been going on for years. Executions take place in public after Friday prayers. Believe it or not, executions are a crowd puller.

                    I do not agree with sharia law, but I also do not agree with people being imprisoned in China, or with the forthcoming executions in Indonesia.

                    All I am saying – and know – is that Saudi is not a country that is well understood in NZ, and a bit less stone throwing and a bit more learning would not go amiss.

                    • vto

                      Yes well your comments can be applied to pretty much any similar regime in the world ….. but your last line ….. “a bit less stone throwing ”

                      do they stone people to death as well? you would be better to suggest a bit less stone throwing to the Saudis not us

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Exactly which stones are being thrown?

                      The “gender equality” stone.

                      The “summary execution” stone.

                      The “freedom of speech and assembly” stones.

                      Hey, wait a second, those aren’t stones, they’re legitimate criticisms.

                      I need freedom, I need democracy … the whole country is a prison,

                      Khalid Muhammad al Jahani,

            • One Anonymous Bloke 8.1.1.1.1.2

              In fact, criticism is being aimed at their judicial system and practice of executing people. If we’re going to have a go at the National Party for attacks on freedom of speech, I don’t see why the House of Saud should get a free pass because you had a nice time there.

            • dukeofurl 8.1.1.1.1.3

              What a twat.

              You well know that most expats live in gated compounds, both for the security and that the religious police cant enter. So no worry about being whipped for not wearing habib or mixed gender groups.

              This comment about expat life style is interesting:
              “I would not recommend living off compound if you have a wife and children, at least within the compound they have relative freedom.”

            • joe90 8.1.1.1.1.4

              Cultured and polite.
              /

              Ali AlAhmed
              ‏@AliAlAhmed_en

              Our oil revenues since 1936 are over $5 trillion but this is how #Saudi Moanrchy make our black kids live @rhodes44

              edit: cultured and polite
              /

              li AlAhmed
              ‏@AliAlAhmed_en

              #Saudi Monarchy religious police arrests expat woman for possessing “magic spells”. She faces beheading @JohnKerry

              • greywarshark

                Joe90 I’m glad you put up an answer to cogito. While it is good to put up that one has had only good experiences in a certain case, it shows a lack of intelligence and awareness to criticise others who think differently especially when there are many reliable examples in the negative.

                And especially, more, when coming onto a discussion blog like TS where we try and discuss truth and reality rather than people’s cloudy opinions whether pretty pink or dirty soil-coloured (you will notice that I have picked my colours carefully so that I don’t offend anyone.) It’s hard to discuss reality rationally without someone who has had a Disney experience dissing well-known facts.

                • cogito

                  No Disney experience. Just FIRST-HAND EXPERIENCE, unlike anyone else so far that I have read on this thread. If NZ wants deal in the Arab World, it needs to learn to understand it and respect it. So many of the problems in the Arab World these have been due to Western countries thinking that they know better, without stopping, listening and wanting to understand…. and see where things have got to.

                  • greywarshark

                    @ cogito
                    But you don’t stop and understand yourself! By saying a Disney experience I didn’t say that you weren’t there. I wasn’t saying that you were lying and didn’t know what you were talking about. Keep to the point can’t you. I said that you were dissing other people’s comments that were based on fact, because of the fact that you had been there and NOT experienced any problems or unpleasantness yourself. And it is not surprising because you don’t seem to understand what goes on around you, or is in words that are available for you to read, though you apparently only choose to see what suits you.

                    • cogito

                      Saudi is a very conservative Islamic state and operates accordingly. I do not support the excesses one little bit.

                    • Tracey

                      cogito

                      How long were you there and why Not asking for personal details, just generally.

                  • Tracey

                    INterestingly when Saudi delegations came to NZ, my partner was given a protocol sheet covering what she could wear, say and how to act. They came to NZ remember. When we went to Dubai (yes Dubai, a very westernised nation by middle east standards) we were moved from a room with a double bed to one with two single beds.

                    My point is that when I go to someone else’s country I expect to have to behave according to their laws, but how does that learning get reciprocated (the learning by exposure argument) when they travelled here we had to meet their cultural requirements?

                    • cogito

                      I worked in Saudi and elsewhere in the Middle East for eight years. I mostly worked for a major UK educational publishing company supplying institutions and distributors, and working with Ministries of Education. It was big business.

                      I take your point re cultural requirements.

                      When people come over here they are our guests and it is therefore our responsibility to make them feel welcome and cater to their requirements. This can involve quite a lot of thought especially when their requirements do not fit the standard pattern! When going over there, my experience was always that – once relationships had been established – I was welcomed extremely warmly and nothing was ever too much trouble for them (obviously bearing in mind the cultural context).

            • Chooky 8.1.1.1.1.5

              @ cogito ….are you a woman?….women may have a different view eg NZ nurses working there…in fact I know they do

              • cogito

                Good question, and I agree entirely.
                That said, things are changing, albeit slowly, and plenty of Saudi women are well educated and study overseas. Things have to be understood in context.

            • Murray Rawshark 8.1.1.1.1.6

              I’ve had Saudi students. They tried to bribe me. Yeah, lovely people.

    • dukeofurl 8.2

      Same old bullshit was said about South Africa under apartheid.

      “you have never been there”

      • freedom 8.2.1

        Hi dukeofurl, hate to be a pest and am really tiring of nipping at your heels but unless you like being seen as someone who simply ‘dumps n’ runs’ you do have a question to respond to if you don’t mind, regarding your comment about the Grow grants.
        I for one am still confused as to what you meant by “it’s not true” http://thestandard.org.nz/open-mike-23042015-2/#comment-1004556

        • dukeofurl 8.2.1.1

          I cant be bothered, but it was made clear in Heralds ‘later versions’ of the story.

          Look it up yourself.

          • freedom 8.2.1.1.1

            Thank you for your most informative and illuminating reply. [eyeroll emoticon]

            • rawshark-yeshe 8.2.1.1.1.1

              what’s happened to our favourite emoticons ? are we being censored ? eeek!

              :eyeroll if I could eyeroll:

              • freedom

                I think it’s some wordpress upgrade – +I doubt there is anything lPrent can do. Rumour is the new ones ( those blurry ill defined squashed blotchy things) look better on new hitech phone screens – so, as usual, some boffins in an office sat around their ice cream cone board table after a morning playing with their SIRI controlled coffee makers and made a boneheaded decision.

    • Tracey 8.3

      I haven’t been there, but I have been involved in teaching their students who come to NZ…

      • cogito 8.3.1

        That’s interesting.

        I haven’t checked the stats recently, but I believe that there are increasing numbers of Saudi students coming to NZ. They would be facing quite a culture shock…. and quite possibly a fair bit of misunderstanding.

    • Tracey 8.4

      The South Africans under apartheid were nice people too.

  9. Joe 9

    Felix @ 8.01 +100

    Dave_1924 “We have an elected Govt, they make decisions …” – not sure what this means? Any decision by an elected Govt is therefore fine? Even the last Labour Govt?

  10. Paaparakauta 10

    John Key “understands” the bombing of Houthis – like photos of adolescents
    with intestines spilling out after another ‘clinical’ bomb attack ?

    lprent: I hope that’s not too graphic for our gentle readers, but I’ve seen the images.

  11. dukeofurl 11

    It gets worse, Key while meeting Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi “understands” their invasion of Yemen.

    Whats was his reaction to the Ukraine crisis?. of course he told Putin to get out!

    • One Anonymous Bloke 11.1

      Taking sides in the internecine conflict between Sunni and Shia. He’s out of his depth.

      • Tracey 11.1.1

        He did confirm the money already offered to that kiwi family would be, offered… You know as a trade for the death of their triplets. It’s the market baby.

  12. rawshark-yeshe 13

    TV3 Newsnad Paddy Gower informed me yesterday that one of the reasons for the six year delay in this agreement was because one Saudi businessman was furious that live sheep shipments were stopped.

    Is this the price for a so-called free trade deal with these cruel human and animal rights monsters. No. Not in my name.

    We must not let this terrible trade be resumed, please.

    Bloody John Key; he who will stop at nothing if it means dollars at the end of it. He turns a blind eye so often he deserves to lose his sight, imho.

    • Chooky 13.1

      +100

    • veutoviper 13.2

      Believe it or not, this morning on Nine to Noon or RNZ National radio, Matthew Hooton gave a good and reasonably unbiased explanation of the reasons for the delays in the trade agreement going ahead and put the blame of the delay on Key – not Clark as Key has claimed. Hooton’s explanation aligns with what I remember.

      http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/audio/201752162/politics-with-matthew-hooton-and-mike-williams

      According to Hooton, the Saudi businessman lost about $100M he had invested on the understanding that the agreement and live sheep shipments would go ahead. I cannot confirm the amount, but recall this being a big issue with the Saudis. I was active fighting against live sheep shipments at that time and will certainly again become active if this cruel practice is resumed.

      I have no reason for thinking this, but my instincts suggest that this agreement will not go ahead at this time, but only time will tell.

      I presume Key will be under strict instructions to keep his hands firmly in his pockets while he is in SA, otherwise …..

      • rawshark-yeshe 13.2.1

        Thx vv .. I will join you again in the battle if they attempt to resume those vile and in humane shipments.

        Hope your instincts are right.

      • Murray Rawshark 13.2.2

        Inside the palaces, honoured guests are probably allowed to play with the hair of the servants. The servants would get flogged if they complained. I suspect it really is FJK’s kind of country.

        • veutoviper 13.2.2.1

          LOL! And yes, I agree. Perhaps he sees himself as having outgrown the western millionaire league and worthy of the Arabian Prince billionaire league..

          • rawshark-yeshe 13.2.2.1.1

            oh goodness me, Key was so outclassed on TV3 news tonight in Dubai .. what a giggling twit with all the Arab masters in one room and later no real answers to anything except that they are very rich people. Even Paddy Gower was quizzical about him later at the end of the piece.

  13. Sable 14

    Saudi is one of the US”s little pet dictatorship’s. Even the MSM in the US kowtow to them in the same way they curry favour with the apartheid state of Israel.

    We are not the USA. Keys should be ashamed of going anywhere near Saudi. Its a genuine A grade hell hole for a lot of its citizens.

  14. Sable 15

    Keys shames us by taking actions like this one. Saudi is an absolute hell hole in every sense of the word. We should have nothing whatsoever to do with them.

  15. rawshark-yeshe 16

    If you haven’t seen the documentary Fahrenheit 911 by Michael Moore, you are missing critical, salient infomation that is quite astonishing.

    Maori TV played it last week and it is free to view on their website now — Bushes 1 and 2 and the Saudis in all their greedy decadence. Remarkable doco.

    http://www.maoritelevision.com/tv/shows/tuesday-festival-documentaries/S01E001/fahrenheit-911

  16. Draco T Bastard 17

    The War Nerd: Bentleys for Houthis!

    Of course that doesn’t make for Prussian military discipline, or PLA-level morale. If the Yemeni Shia ever crossed into Najran or Jizan provinces, the Saudi Army would probably execute a tactical withdrawal, using their ultimate weapon, the Smartphone, to order some air-to-ground takeout from the USAF.

    Any ground combat between the Saudis and Houthis would be, as they say, one-sided. The Yemeni highlanders have been fighting all their lives, and have very little to lose, while the typical Saudi officer has way too much.

    This jumped out at me because of something I read about the fall of the Roman Empire. What happened there, according to what I read, was that the barbarians were on the borders being threatening and the rich in Rome decided to bribe the chieftains because it was cheaper for them than mounting a military campaign. The barbarians accepted the bribes and then invaded anyway.

    It seems that the House of Saud is now in the same position as the old Roman aristocracy.

    • GregJ 17.1

      In essence correct – In the West the Romans increasingly used “Barbarian” mercenaries – Feoderates – as military forces on the borders (limes) – the distinction between those “outside” and “inside” increasingly became blurred. There are complicated economic and demographic reasons why this happened in the West of the Empire but not in the East and hence why the Western part “fell” (really it disintegrated) but not the Eastern half – which lasted another 1000 years.

      • GregJ 17.1.1

        I agree though the Saudis don’t really don’t want to engage in a ground war if at all possible. They’ll use their air power to support their local proxies.

  17. cogito 18

    Some of the following BBC series would make useful watching for those wishing to have a better understanding of Saudi Arabia….. and it is presented by a WOMAN.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00mfcf9

  18. It comes down to the United States. If it did not waste billions trying to placate a region that hates it, both America and the Middle East would be a better place.

  19. Kriss X 20

    The people who planned and executed 911 were Saudis. So the Yanks attacked the Afghans and remain close friends with Saudi Arabia. You could not make it up, could you ?

    Saudis run a brutal Sharia law state that crushes any reformist uprising. All done with the full support of the USA, while they support other uprisings under the banner of ” regime change”

    Look how that worked out for the Syrians and others !

  20. cogito 21

    From The Arab News (Saudi Newspaper)

    Visit of New Zealand PM to cement ties
    http://www.arabnews.com/saudi-arabia/news/737521
    Interestingly, Key is quoted as saying:
    “New Zealand stands ready to reinvigorate the Middle East peace process,” he said.
    As New Zealand prepares for its presidency of the UN Security Council in July, it must set an example by focusing particularly on regional turmoil that has hampered peace and security of the Middle East, including the Gulf states….”

    **So look out for Key’s roadmap to Middle Eastern peace!**

    Also in the Arab News:
    New Zealand launches education website in Arabic aimed at Saudi students
    http://www.arabnews.com/saudi-arabia/news/735046

    Countrywide job fairs for women big hit – attended by 38,000 women
    http://www.arabnews.com/saudi-arabia/news/738926

  21. Melanie Scott 22

    This great champion of the wonderful enlightened and civilised Saudia Arabia makes me want to throw up.
    1. I have very good friends (not Westerners, some nominally muslims) who have been senior dipolmats in Saudi Arabia, a couple have done several tours there. Their descriptions of the hypocrisy (boozing, huge wine cellars under houses, etc) at the highest levels of govt and business) are mind boggling.
    2. The daughter of a friend who had the misfortune to live in Riaddh for a while found that they could not use the roof top terrace of their apartment in the evenings because the sound of women screaming coming from houses all around them was too distressing.
    I often meet people from the Indian subcontinent, on my business visits to Delhi (well educated, middle class, young men) who arrive home feeling traumatised by their experiences working in Saudi Arabia.
    And those are just a few examples. This is a sick, evil state and we should have nothing whatsoever to do with it.

    • cogito 22.1

      ” I often meet people from the Indian subcontinent, on my business visits to Delhi (well educated, middle class, young men) who arrive home feeling traumatised by their experiences working in Saudi Arabia.”

      Ah Delhi…. that great place where innocent women get gang raped by the dozen. Should “we” have nothing to do with India because of that? Or are those women not traumatised?

      What about Indonesia? How about “we” stop dealing with them? Or do you not have a problem with corruption, hypocrisy, human rights etc in that country?

      Personally, I would dearly love to see NZ take a moral and ethical stand on a whole range of issues and against a whole list of countries, but that is sadly fanciful.

      Are you honestly saying that Saudi Arabia is worse than so many other countries that NZ deals with? If you are, then try walking to work this morning as you support Saudi Arabia every time you fill your car.

      • Melanie Scott 22.1.1

        Saudi Arabia is definitely worse. For years I have walked around Delhi on my own many times, for hours. I always feel safe, even when I’m lost and need to ask directions in quite shady looking back alleys.
        Of course the rape culture in parts of India is dreadful, as it is in many other countries, including Western ones. However, in India women are able to vote, drive cars, travel, have equal access to education, even have children out of wedlock as quite a few middle class Delhi women do nowadays. They do not get drowned in swimmingpools by their own fathers or decapitated in carparks.
        And yes we should also stop dealing with Indonesia. I use a car as little as possible and as I am now 65 I don’t need to drive to work all that often as I only work park time, and I work a lot from home.
        I long for the day when much more money and effort is put into developing oil free modes of transport.

  22. Sable 23

    Disgraceful but hardly surprising.

  23. Paaparakauta 24

    http://www.almasdarnews.com/article/saudi-fighters-bomb-sanaa-airport-yemeni-army-advances-in-maareb/

    “Simultaneously with the landing of an Iranian Red Crescent plane carrying food and medicine in Sana’a Airport, Saudi fighter jets breaching all international norms bombed the airport to prevent the IRI civilian plane’s landing on Tuesday evening.

    The Saudi jets also bombed the control tower of the airport in their inhumane war crime, but the brave Iranian pilot completed its landing successfully before taking off again due to the inappropriate conditions of the airport and heading back towards Iran.

    The illegal and inhumane Saudi war crime took place under such conditions that Riyadh had under the pressure of the world public opinion and international organizations earlier announced that it had halted its cruel air raids against Yemen.

    The Saudi army also launched a rocketry attack against al-Jadida province in Yemen, targeting the residential areas.

    In response, the Yemeni army, backed by the popular committees, clashed fiercely with al-Qaeda takfiris, killing a number of terrorists and advancing in Maareb province.

    A Saudi security source announced that a KSA Army soldier was killed in clashes at the border with Yemen.

    9 Saudi soldiers have been killed in clashes at Yemen border, according to KSA official reports.”

  24. Chauncey Gardiner 25

    Anyone seen the latest Adam Curtis video – Bitter Lake… Gives a great back story to this whole sordid Saudi business…. who are the real villains?

    Oh, sorry for cut and paste, had too much wine to really care…. lazy me… been watching too much of the gerbil twins on TV (aka Paul Henry and Paddy .. I’m so uptight Gower… Henry is I admit rather funny… Gower… Yawn):

    Heres Adam Curtis in Bitter Lake
    http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2015/jan/26/bitter-lake-review-adam-curtis-afghanistan

    “Bitter Lake of the title refers to an actual saltwater lake through which the Suez canal flows, and presumably also to what you would find inside Adam Curtis’s head if you were to cut it open. In 1945 President Roosevelt met King Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia (whose son Abdullah died last week, to be replaced by yet another son, Salman) on board a warship on the Great Bitter Lake. It was a meeting that would have extraordinary, far-reaching and unintended consequences, for the west, for the world.

    Curtis’s story unfurls from there, taking in America, Saudi Arabia, Britain, the Soviet Union. And Afghanistan, which found itself not just at the centre of the world, but the centre of a snowballing – and ongoing – international scandal. It’s a story that includes the spread of Wahhabism (no wasabi jokes, thank you); the oversimplification of the world, by Reagan and Bush (Sr) and Bush (Jr) and Blair, into a kind of fairytale of good v evil; the banks, inevitably; Bin Laden and 9/11 too, also inevitably; and now Islamic State, who want pretty much exactly what the Wahhabists wanted over half a century ago.

    It’s a story full of violence, bloodshed, and bitter ironies, mainly about how the west, through misunderstanding and oversimplification, repeatedly achieved pretty much the opposite of what it was trying to achieve. America protected Wahhabism through its thirst for Saudi oil, and in doing so helped sow the seeds of radical Islam today. In Afghanistan they built dams to irrigate the Helmand valley, making it perfect to sow actual seeds, opium poppy seeds. The past is strewn with patterns, and warnings, if only anyone had bothered looking and tried to understand. But history is a bit too complicated for today’s politicians.”

    Who is the bad guy here? Heard on the Grape Vine that “Wahhabism” was a construct or at the very least “elevated” by “foreign concerns”

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