A piece of counter terrorism intelligence information supplied by Saudi Arabia has “saved potentially hundreds of lives” in the United Kingdom, at least according to British Prime Minister David Cameron. Mr Cameron was speaking at an Ask The Leaders event hosted by Sky News and Facebook, and the issue of the United Kingdom’s relationship with Saudi Arabia was brought up.
While he did say that he didn’t always agree with how the Saudi Arabian government treats people, he said that he still has a duty to work with other countries and governments if it’s in the best interest of the United Kingdom. He brought up the fact that a piece of counter terrorism intelligence from Saudi Arabia has saved British lives, although he didn’t exactly stipulate when this information was received, or what exactly the information related to.
“I can tell you one time since I’ve been prime minister, a piece of information that we have been given by that country has saved potentially hundreds of lives here in Britain. Now, you can be prime minister and say exactly what you think about every regime in the world and make great headlines, and give great speeches.”
“But I think my first job is to try and keep this country safe from terrorism and if that means you have to build strong relationships sometimes with regimes you don’t always agree with, that I think is part of the job and that is the way I do it. And that is the best way I can explain it.”
Mr Cameron also addressed why a flag was flown at half mast after the death of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, a man who had an atrocious civil rights record, and who held public beheadings and instituted laws that enabled Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi to be sentenced to decades in prison alongside 1,000 lashes for reportedly criticising Islam. When asked about why the flag was flown at half mast, Mr Cameron gave his reasons.
“There’s a longstanding relationship between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and our United Kingdom here, a relationship between our monarchs, a relationship between the governments. We don’t agree with lots of things that the Saudis do, we don’t agree with the way they treat people, for instance criminals, and we make it very clear those differences. But when the king died, as a mark of respect we thought it was right to show that respect.”
Despite his explanation of the relationship between the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia, Mr Cameron may have let slip why exactly he doesn’t seem to have much of a problem dealing with such a country. When asked whether or not the United Kingdom’s relationship with Saudi Arabia was based on the latter countries oil resources, he responded frankly.
“Yes, of course. Of course Britain needs to have relationships with countries we trade with, including those that we buy oil and gas from. We can’t make all our oil and gas here in the UK, we’re doing well because we’ve got North Sea oil.”
Prime Minster Cameron further explained the relationship with Saudi Arabia by briefly mentioning the counter terrorism intelligence mentioned above, as well as by stating that the United Kingdom would need to have some form of diplomatic relationship with Saudi Arabia in order to attempt to start some form of dialogue about the country’s civil rights abuses.
“It’s perfectly possible to go to those countries as I do and raise human rights abuses. In fact I would argue that if you have a relationship with them and you have a way of talking to them they are more likely to listen to you than if you just cut yourself off.”
[Image via colin-bloom.blogspot.com]