11 August 2011

A lesson in hypocrisy from King Abdullah

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has condemned Syria's Assad regime for its suppression of pro-democracy dissenters and withdrawn his ambassador. This is a very civilized thing to do in the face of the brutality taking place in that country.

Coming from Abdullah however, it is thoroughly unconvincing. The Saudis recently supported a similarly brutal suppression of a pro-democracy movement by the kleptocratic Al Khalifa family, rulers of neighbouring Bahrain, complete with the usual beatings, torture and murder. Comically, Bahrain has also withdrawn its ambassador from Syria.

The king probably had a variety of reasons for condemning Assad: Syria is a secular republic and is friendly toward Iran. He may also have had encouragement from the United States. But the suppression of democracy was certainly not one of the reasons. With the Saud family imposing a harsh, theocratic, misogynistic regime on their own citizens, any criticism of fellow dictators cannot but ring hollow. They could best speak out for democracy by practicing a little themselves.

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