British MPs angry about relations with Undemocratic Saudi Arabia & Bahrain

British PM David Cameron with Saudi King AbdullahJNN 25 Nov 2013 London : A report by a group of British MPs says that the government should no longer ignore claims of hypocrisy over its relations with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

According to BBC, the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) published a report on Friday saying that concerns over human rights were being juggled with the UK’s lucrative trade and other strategic interests.

MPs said the Persian Gulf region was critical to the UK, yet many states were among the “least democratic in the world”.

The committee said it was concerned about “limited but worrying evidence of a poor public perception of the UK in Saudi Arabia.”

It also called on the British government to assess Riyadh’s move in supplying weapons to foreign-backed militants in Syria who fight against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

The MPs said in the report that governments “such as the UK face a challenge in trying to reconcile their liberal constituencies at home with the need to maintain relationships with undemocratic and conservative regimes that are important to their interests on a regional and global level.”

“We understand that to encourage a government such as that of Saudi Arabia towards reform, a combination of private and public pressure is required,” the report also said, urging the government to explain its approach better to the public.

On calls for reform in Bahrain, the MPs warned that “if there is no significant progress by the start of 2014, the government should designate Bahrain as a ‘country of concern’ in its next Human Rights Report”.

On Saudi Arabia, the MPs said there was worrying evidence that the public there, especially young Saudis, had a poor perception of the UK and likewise the UK population had a negative perception of Saudi Arabia.

The committee urged the government to explain its approach better to the public.

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