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When silence means monkey business in high office

October 19, 2014 at 10:29 am

British Prime Minister David Cameron, his opposition number Ed Miliband and Middle East Peace Envoy Tony Blair are among those who have roundly condemned the head-chopping, limb-cutting activities of the self-styled Islamic State. No sane observer of the Middle East would disagree with them.

However, the same trio also emulate the behaviour of the “Three Wise Monkeys” when it comes to equally barbaric behaviour elsewhere in the region. Take your pick which one is Mizaru, the monkey who covers his eyes so he can see no evil; Kikazaru, who blocks his ears to hear no evil; or Iwazaru, who covers his mouth so he can speak no evil.

When Israel dropped its bombs on civilian areas in Gaza during the summer which, on impact, sent out razor sharp shrapnel which tore off the heads, arms and legs of anyone within range, not a word of condemnation followed from Cameron, Miliband or Blair. It was as though they’d been struck deaf, dumb and blind. The terror that these weapons wreaked on the general population in Palestine prompted one nine-year-old girl to scrawl her name in red ink on all of her limbs, feet, hands and forehead as she pleaded with her mother, “Please find all the bits and put my body back together again if we get bombed.”

Cameron was unmoved by such suffering and made no condemnation of Israel’s barbaric weapons. Instead, he offered the government in Tel Aviv his “staunch” support. He was also voiceless this week as news emerged about the proposed crucifixion of a religious cleric who has managed to upset the British Government’s friends in the House of Saud. The “Three Monkeys” treatment summarises the key double standards at the heart of British foreign policy.

Shaikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, a Shiite cleric, was sentenced to death by a Saudi court after he was found guilty of seeking “foreign meddling” in the kingdom, “disobeying” its rulers and taking up arms against the security forces, according to a BBC report. Execution by “crucifixion” in Saudi Arabia involves being beheaded in public, after which the decapitated body is displayed on a cross for several days.

The shaikh was a vocal supporter of the mass anti-government protests that erupted in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province in 2011, when the cry “Ashaab yureed isqat annidham” was ringing in the ears of tyrants and despots around the Arab world.

Around the same time that Al-Nimr was upsetting Riyadh’s rulers, David Cameron was in Tahrir Square cheerleading the arrival of the Arab Spring following the fall of Hosni Mubarak. He was the first world leader to visit the Egyptian capital to reinforce the protesters’ demands that the then interim government fulfil its promise to hold free and fair elections later in the year. The rest, of course, is history, as he once again lost the power of speech over the removal of the democratically-elected Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi in a military coup in 2013.

Cameron’s pledge to the House of Commons that Britain cannot “walk on by” in the face of the threat posed by the “psychopathic terrorists” of ISIS is now beginning to ring hollow. Human rights, it seems, are not for those unlucky enough to live in the backyard of Britain’s allies.

The British premier is not alone in being tongue-tied over this issue, for there has not been one word of condemnation forthcoming from would-be prime minister Ed Miliband or the former post holder Tony Blair. A clear case, I would say, of monkey business in high office.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.