Nick Cohen – Sweden took on Saudi Arabia, followed by cowardly silence + Bart Mos & Joris Polman – BuZa dwarsboomde onderzoek Saoedisch koningshuis + Saudi Arabia Uncovered

Sweden took on Saudi Arabia, followed by a cowardly silence from the rest of the world

Sweden’s feminist foreign minister dared to tell the truth about Saudi Arabia.

Margot Wallström’s principled stand deserved wide support. Betrayal was the outcome.

If the cries of ‘Je suis Charlie’ were sincere, the western world would be convulsed with worry and anger about the Wallström affair. It has all the ingredients for a clash-of-civilisations confrontation.

A few weeks ago (written 28.3.2015) Margot Wallström, the Swedish foreign minister, denounced the subjugation of women in Saudi Arabia. As the theocratic kingdom prevents women from travelling, conducting official business or marrying without the permission of male guardians, and as girls can be forced into child marriages where they are effectively raped by old men, she was telling no more than the truth. Wallström went on to condemn the Saudi courts for ordering that Raif Badawi receive ten years in prison and 1,000 lashes for setting up a website that championed secularism and free speech. These were ‘mediaeval methods’, she said, and a ‘cruel attempt to silence modern forms of expression’. And once again, who can argue with that?

The backlash followed the pattern set by Rushdie, the Danish cartoons and Hebdo. Saudi Arabia withdrew its ambassador and stopped issuing visas to Swedish businessmen. The United Arab Emirates joined it. The Organisation of Islamic Co-operation, which represents 56 Muslim-majority states, accused Sweden of failing to respect the world’s ‘rich and varied ethical standards’ — standards so rich and varied, apparently, they include the flogging of bloggers and encouragement of paedophiles. Meanwhile, the Gulf Co-operation Council condemned her ‘unaccept-able interference in the internal affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’, and I wouldn’t bet against anti-Swedish riots following soon.

Yet there is no ‘Wallström affair’. Outside Sweden, the western media has barely covered the story, and Sweden’s EU allies have shown no inclination whatsoever to support her. A small Scandinavian nation faces sanctions, accusations of Islamophobia and maybe worse to come, and everyone stays silent. As so often, the scandal is that there isn’t a scandal.

It is a sign of how upside-down modern politics has become that one assumes that a politician who defends freedom of speech and women’s rights in the Arab world must be some kind of muscular liberal, or neocon, or perhaps a supporter of one of Scandinavia’s new populist right-wing parties whose commitment to human rights is merely a cover for anti-Muslim hatred. But Margot Wallström is that modern rarity: a left-wing politician who goes where her principles take her.

She is foreign minister in Sweden’s weak coalition of Social Democrats and Greens, and took office promising a feminist foreign policy. She recognised Palestine in October last year — and, no, the Arab League and Organisation of Islamic Co-operation and Gulf Co-operation Council did not condemn her ‘unacceptable interference in the internal affairs of Israel’. I confess that her gesture struck me as counterproductive at the time. But after Benjamin Netanyahu ruled out a Palestinian state as he used every dirty trick he could think of to secure his re-election, she can claim with justice that history has vindicated her.

She moved on to the Saudi version of sharia law. Her criticism was not just rhetorical. She said that it was unethical for Sweden to continue with its military co-operation agreement with Saudi Arabia. In other words, she threatened Swedish arms companies’ ability to make money. Saudi Arabia’s denial of business visas to Swedes threatened to hurt other companies’ profits too. You might think of Swedes as upright social democrats, who have never let worries of appearing tedious stand in the way of their righteousness. But that has never been wholly true, and is certainly not true when there is money at stake.

Sweden is the world’s 12th largest arms exporter — quite an achievement for a country of just nine million people. Its exports to Saudi Arabia total $1.3 billion. Business leaders and civil servants are also aware that other Muslim-majority countries may follow Saudi Arabia’s lead. During the ‘cartoon crisis’ — a phrase I still can’t write without snorting with incredulity — Danish companies faced global attacks and the French supermarket chain Carrefour took Danish goods off the shelves to appease Muslim customers. A co-ordinated campaign by Muslim nations against Sweden is not a fanciful notion. There is talk that Sweden may lose its chance to gain a seat on the UN Security Council in 2017 because of Wallström.

To put it as mildly as I can, the Swedish establishment has gone wild. Thirty chief executives signed a letter saying that breaking the arms trade agreement ‘would jeopardise Sweden’s reputation as a trade and co-operation partner’. No less a figure than His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf himself hauled Wallström in at the weekend to tell her that he wanted a compromise. Saudi Arabia has successfully turned criticism of its brutal version of Islam into an attack on all Muslims, regardless of whether they are Wahhabis or not, and Wallström and her colleagues are clearly unnerved by accusations of Islamophobia. The signs are that she will fold under the pressure, particularly when the rest of liberal Europe shows no interest in supporting her.

Sins of omission are as telling as sins of commission. The Wallström non-affair tells us three things. It is easier to instruct small countries such as Sweden and Israel on what they can and cannot do than America, China or a Saudi Arabia that can call on global Muslim support when criticised. Second, a Europe that is getting older and poorer is starting to find that moral stands in foreign policy are luxuries it can no longer afford. Saudi Arabia has been confident throughout that Sweden needs its money more than it needs Swedish imports.

Finally, and most revealingly in my opinion, the non-affair shows us that the rights of women always come last. To be sure, there are Twitter storms about sexist men and media feeding frenzies whenever a public figure uses ‘inappropriate language’. But when a politician tries to campaign for the rights of women suffering under a brutally misogynistic clerical culture she isn’t cheered on but met with an embarrassed and hugely revealing silence.

Spectator, 28th March 2015

Posted by Tapestry

The Tap, Thu 8:28 am UTC, 23 Feb 2017


23 Feb 2017 3:29 pm
edbutt says:
The problem here is while Wallsrtom may be admired for her courage in denouncing Saudi treatment of women, she must also be regarded as a hypocrite for her willingness to serve as part of a government that is happy to tolerate the oppression of Muslim women and the rape and brutalisation of European women by members of immigrant communities within its own borders.

BuZa dwarsboomde onderzoek smeergeld Saoedisch koningshuis

Amsterdam – Het ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken heeft strafrechtelijk onderzoek naar smeergeldbetalingen aan het koningshuis van Saoedi-Arabië door de Nederlandse bouwreus Ballast Nedam gedwarsboomd. Het verhoor van een Saoedische getuige werd na tussenkomst van het ministerie afgeblazen „vanwege de bilaterale betrekkingen, de status van betrokkenen en de mogelijke risico’s voor de te horen getuige.”

Dit blijkt uit de documentaire ’Inzake Saoedi-Arabië’ die omroep Human maandagavond uitzendt ( De uitzending is gebaseerd op delen van het FIOD-dossier die in handen zijn gekomen van Human.

ZIE OOK: ’Ballast betaalde Arabische prins’:


De documentaire borduurt voort op eerdere publicaties van De Telegraaf uit 2013 over de smeergeldaffaire, waarbij op basis van verklaringen van een ex-directielid werd onthuld dat Ballast Nedam honderden miljoenen euro’s had betaald aan een lid van het Saoedische koningshuis in ruil voor militaire bouwopdrachten op het Arabisch schiereiland. De meeste smeergeldbetalingen (ruim 450 miljoen dollar), werden gedaan aan prins Alwaleed bin Talal Alsaud, een van de rijkste mannen ter wereld.

Betrokken rechercheurs die het onderzoek naar de smeergeldbetalingen deden, beklaagden zich destijds in De Telegraaf over hinderlijke bemoeienis van het ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken bij hun recherchewerk. Toenmalig minister Frans Timmermans (PvdA) ontkende in reactie op het Telegraaf-artikel dat zijn ministerie zich met het onderzoek bemoeide en liet na vragen hierover van SP-Kamerlid Harry van Bommel aan de Tweede Kamer weten dat „diplomatieke, economische of andere belangen van Nederland in Saoedi-Arabië op geen enkele wijze van invloed mogen zijn op het strafrechtelijk onderzoek naar de smeergeldaffaire.”

Geheime smeergeldboekhouding

Uit de Human-documentaire blijkt dat niet alleen prins Alwaleed, maar ook de Saoedische koningen Abdullah en Fahd, beiden inmiddels overleden, genoemd worden in de geheime smeergeldboekhouding van Ballast Nedam. In de schaduwboekhouding hebben alle betrokkenen schuilnamen. Zo heet prins Alwaleed ’Tijger’, wordt koning Fahd ’Adriaan’ genoemd en heet Abdullah ’Bassie’.

Ballast verbouwde uiteindelijk voor 580 miljoen dollar twee vliegvelden in Saoedi-Arabië. De FIOD vermoedt dat die opdrachten eigenlijk maar 249 miljoen waard waren en dat Ballast de eerder betaalde smeergeld bij de rekening optelde.

’Bedrijven geadviseerd’

Prins Alwaleed liet in 2014 in een schriftelijke reactie aan De Telegraaf weten dat hij „jaren geleden verschillende internationale bedrijven, waaronder Ballast Nedam, geadviseerd over zaken doen in Saoedi-Arabië. De eerlijke dienst die hij heeft geleverd aan Ballast Nedam heeft zowel het bedrijf zelf als Nederland geholpen”, zo luidde de verklaring namens hem.

De Prins ontkende „speculaties in de pers” over betrokkenheid bij de betaling van steekpenningen in Saoedi-Arabië. Volgens hem was dat ’simpelweg onjuist’.


De dank van Nederland voor zijn adviezen werd volgens de prins in 2003 erkend door het toekennen van de onderscheiding in de orde van Oranje-Nassau. Het lintje werd hem destijds opgespeld door toenmalig minister Dekker (VROM).

De Telegraaf, 27 februari 2017, 11:01

Saudi Arabia Uncovered

Gepubliceerd op 24 mrt. 2016

Documentary by James Jones