Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has breached the respect and trust between the UK and Saudi Arabia, a move which may have “serious repercussions,” the Gulf Kingdom’s ambassador to Britain has warned.
Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz aired his views in the Telegraph newspaper in the wake of a row over UK contracts.
He warned that there had been “an alarming change in the way Saudi Arabia is discussed in Britain” and that the country’s role as the center of Islam and as a key security partner were of “little concern to those who have fomented this change.”
Abdulaziz said the new trend could have “potentially serious repercussions that could damage the mutually beneficial strategic partnership that our countries have so long enjoyed.”
The ambassador singled out Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for his efforts to halt a contract to provide prison services to Saudi Arabia’s notorious jails.
“One recent example of this mutual respect being breached was when Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Opposition, claimed that he had convinced Prime Minister David Cameron to cancel a prison consultancy contract with Saudi Arabia worth £5.9 million [US$9 million],” Abdulaziz argued.
He also said that Saudi Arabia often had to deal with a “lack of understanding and misconceptions” about the Gulf regime’s traditions, laws and customs.
Saudi Arabian laws allow stoning, decapitation and crucifixion and these take place regularly.
Corbyn’s intervention over the prison services contract centered on the case of Ali Mohammed Baqir al-Nimra, who was arrested at the age of 17 for resisting the regime and is due to be beheaded and then crucified.
“If the extensive trade links between the two countries are going to be subordinate to certain political ideologies, then this vital commercial exchange is going to be at risk,” Abdulaziz said, adding that Saudis “will not be lectured to by anyone.”
“Hasty decisions prompted by short-term gains often do more harm than good in the longer term,” he said.