Bill's Archived Comments

for the week beginning: Monday, 19th August 2002


Contents of this page (scroll down the page to see the full text of the article which interests you)

- Saudi royals alleged to have paid al-Qa'ida not to destabilise regime (25 Aug 2002)

- Zimbabwe's tragedy continues (24 Aug 2002)

- The truly amazing bankruptcy of Conservative thinking (24 Aug 2002)

(If you wish to see other articles, please click on the 'Archives' link above to go there now)

Saudi royals alleged to have paid al-Qa'ida not to destabilise regime (25 Aug 2002)

According to a report published in today's Sunday Times (which I have read a report of in the Drudge Report - see my Links page) some senior members of the Saudi royal family are alleged to have paid al-Qa'ida and the former Taliban regime in Afghanistan considerable sums - of the order of US$300 million - to ensure that these groups would not foment discontent within Saudi Arabia.

It is further alleged that these agreements included the sale of significant quantities of oil products to Pakistan, which some think connived (voluntarily or under coercion) in the continuation in power of the Taliban regime in neighbouring Afghanistan, until it became clear to Pakistan that a more powerful outside influence, the United States, was no longer prepared to tolerate this stance.

It seems to me that the proverb I quote below could with profit be considered by the misguided Saudi royals who, it is alleged, attempted to 'buy off' Osama bin Laden and his al-Qa'ida organisation:

It seems that in recent years the Saudi authorities have faced increasing difficulty containing the demands by younger Saudis, who are now generally well-educated although in a worrying number of cases seemingly radicalised in their religious beliefs, for an increased role in the running of their country. So far the Saudi authorities have resisted all demands for even modest democratisation. One wonders whether the recent incident in which the religious police delayed young Saudi women from leaving a burning building, resulting in at least some of those trapped dying needlessly, because they were considered to be inappropriately dressed for rescue by the male fire rescue personnel who attended the fire, will force the authorities to rethink their policies in the light of what is apparently outrage on the part of a significant proportion of the Saudi population over the incident.

What is clear to me though is that attempting to buy off terrorists in an attempt to isolate the Kingdom from natural political delevopments in Saudi society will ultimately prove futile.

Zimbabwe's tragedy continues (24 Aug 2002)

Late last night, it was reported that President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has dissolved his cabinet - it is not known precisely what is behind this move because foreign reporting from that country is now severely restricted, but it is thought to indicate that Mugabe wishes to accelerate the pace of the mass seizures of white-owned farms. Western diplomats think that one or both of his vice-presidents is likely to be replaced.

The dishonesty of Mugabe's stated policy, to redistribute land to currently landless peasants, is neatly illustrated by the seizure of one prime piece of farmland in the lush Mazowe Valley (not far from the capital, Harare) a week ago when the president's wife, Grace Mugabe, arrived with an 'entourage' (aka 'a gang of thugs') and threatened Eva and John Matthews with arrest if they did not leave. Perhaps Mrs Mugabe really is an expert agronomist, but she is most certainly not a landless peasant. The reality of the cronyism of which President Mugabe has been accused repeatedly in recent months is clear.

The truly amazing bankruptcy of Conservative thinking (24 Aug 2002)

Whilst much of what has been reported in the media in the last few weeks about the in-fighting which is occurring in the senior ranks of the Conservative Party may perhaps be put down to the usual silly-season doldrums in the news in August (principally because many senior politicians and numerous journalistsa are away on vacation), one comment earlier this week seems to me to highlight just how out of touch are many within those same senior ranks of the Conservative Party. I could have highlighted comments made by others in recent weeks, from both the 'modernising' and the 'traditionalist' wings of the Party, although the one I have chosen to remark on comes from a 'traditionalist'.

Nicholas Soames, commonly referred to as a Tory grandee, chose to contribute to the debate by saying that the Party would not get anywhere unless it ended its "mad obsession with gays, blacks and women"; even assuming that blacks and gays don't matter (a view with which I naturally do not agree) to categorise as a "mad obsession" what is a seemingly modest (very modest, actually) attempt to raise the number of female Conservative prospective parliamentary candidates in winnable seats is quite bizarre - specially as females themselves comprise slightly more than 50% of the whole population. When one adds in the other two categories he refers to, one is probably talking about a little more than 60% of the entire population. Some 'minority'!


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Copyright © 2002 William Cameron