My advice to the Advisor: The case of Tony Blair and the future of Saudi Arabia
WASHINGTON: There is some question over Tony Blair and the future of Saudi Arabia. The 1941 Anglo-Soviet invasion of Persia was the invasion of the Imperial State of Iran during the Second World War by Soviet, British and other Commonwealth armed forces.
Growing up with a very traditional grandfather who fought against the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Persia, I heard stories of great men who stood firm against the enemy to defend their values.
In my grandfather’s eyes and the eyes of many men from his generation, even after decades had passed since the invasion, Britain is to be blamed. Everything is about Great Britain’s plan to destroy Persia. To be honest, this mindset was not only among Persians but others in the Middle East as well.
After almost eight decades, the same concern rises, this time in a more public format.
Britain’s Puppets: Kings, Presidents, and politicians
In the past, it was believed Britain’s control over Persia was through the puppets it put into power. In the past, those puppets ruled Persia through under the table deals. However the world has changed, and now we call those influencers “advisors.”
However, the concern that Britain retains influence over Persia by being a part of an umbrella of “advisors” seeking to control Persia present and future remains.
The future of Saudi Arabia is the future of the Middle East
Becoming a Middle East luxury tourism destination, home to world’s tallest buildings and an attractive place for investors, has created the economic motivation moving Mohammad bin Salman, the Saudi prince, away from their Wahabi ideologies.
Saudi Arabia is going through a new wave of modernization, transforming the country from the most extreme to an open-minded nation. Choosing the right advisors is a critical matter.
Recently it was reported that the former prime minister ‘s company, Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, reached an agreement to help support the Saudi Crown Prince’s modernization program.
But can Tony Blair can be a good advisor for Saudi Arabia and its agenda?
Tony Blair and the future of Saudi Arabia
Although noticeably non-European immigrants owe their UK citizenship to former Prime Minister Tony Blair, Blair does not have the cleanest record when it comes to his foreign policy decisions. Blair did create strong ties with the United States and European countries. He supported the foreign policies of the George W. Bush administration and ensured that the British Armed Forces participated in the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan and, more controversially, the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
In fact, in his first six years in office, Blair ordered British troops into combat five times, more than any other prime minister in British history. Those include Iraq in both 1998 and 2003, Kosovo in 1999, Sierra Leone in 2000 and Afghanistan in 2001.
Blair has faced criticism for his role in the invasion of Iraq, including calls for having him tried for war crimes and waging a war of aggression. In 2016, the Iraq Inquiry criticized his actions and described the invasion of Iraq as unjustified and unnecessary.
In an October 2015 CNN interview with Fareed Zakaria, Blair apologized for his “mistakes” over Iraq War and admitted there were “elements of truth” to the view that the invasion helped promote the rise of ISIS.
Chances are such a pro-war advisor can benefit Saudi’s recently elevated war thirst as this country is responsible for thousands of killings and human rights violation through its teaching of extremism, supporting terrorist groups, in addition to the war in Yemen.
The Middle East fight over Gaza
Pro-Israel Israelis and Arabs have been fighting over Gaza since 1948. If Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia, ever tried to resolve the issue or supported Palestine, such conflict would never progress, yet all Arabs turned their back on Palestinians and thus contributing to instability in the region and violations of many rights.
Tony Blair showed a deep feeling for Israel, born in part from his faith. Blair has been a longtime member of the pro-Israel lobby group Labour Friends of Israel.
Saudi can benefit from a pro-Israel advisor, although Israel and Saudi Arabia do not have any official diplomatic relations.
News reports have surfaced indicating extensive behind-the-scenes diplomatic and intelligence cooperation between the two countries, in pursuit of mutual goals against their regional enemy, Iran.
If nothing else, the enemy of an enemy is a friend.
The Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s comments to the US magazine The Atlantic was an explicit recognition of Israel. He stated, “I believe the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to have their own land”. A pro-Israel advisor can help Saudi “come out” and stand for its real position of not caring on the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Arabs.
A Religious Man
In an interview with Michael Parkinson broadcast on ITV1 on (4 March 2006) Blair referred to the role of his Christian faith in his decision to go to war in Iraq. He stated, he had prayed about the issue, saying that God would judge him for his decision:
“I think if you have faith about these things, you realize that judgment is made by other people … and if you believe in God, it’s made by God as well.”
If nothing else, shared belief in God and his influence on Saudi Prince’s human rights violations, and Blair’s war crimes can make these two excellent partners in laying a foundation for Saudi Arabia’s modernization process.
Saudi kings have always “used,” or misused, God and religion to oppress their people, specifically to dehumanize non-Wahhabis. Would Saudi advisor Tony Blair justify his decision to participate in a war crime by saying God would judge him for his decision?
Tony Blair: Comedian and Musician
As a student, Tony played guitar and sang in a rock band called Ugly Rumours. He performed some stand-up comedy and is known as a charismatic and articulate speaker who spoke of Princess Diana, as “the People’s Princess.” So maybe Blair will be an advisor helping Saudis find joy in art, music, and comedy.
A country in which going to the theater was a sin, women had no right to drive, and gambling was only done in private places, until a couple months ago, is already home to big casinos that offer “halal coffee and drugs,” in addition to all kind of gambling games. Women are now driving, which is progress as is women’s access to sport and entertainment events.
Once again Blair fits perfectly with the image that Saudi Arabia is trying to adopt as a modern country. Hopefully, we will see the subject of human rights and rights to dignity also being visited and “modernized”
Advice to the advisor, Tony Blair
Whether Blair’s’ involvement in Saudi Arabia and its future is another example of the West involvement or it’s just an honest effort to bring reform to this country, I believe Tony Blair will benefit from some advice:
Have real reform, start with bases that are not fulfilled in this country.
- Restore Rights: If you want to create change in Saudi Arabia, begin with essential modifications! Start with respecting the right of existence for minorities in the country. Recognize all groups and highlight their importance. All minorities within Islam such as the Shia, in addition to other faiths such as Christians, should have the right to live in peace in their homeland, Saudi Arabia.
- Rebuild History: Rebuild forgotten history of Arabia, so this country becomes a tourist place for all, especially the two billion Muslims who see this country as their religious motherland. Saudi Kings have demolished tens of historical sites, including the Baqi cemetery, purposefully and under the name of the religion. Rebuild the forgotten historical sites and nourish the rich Islamic history. Hajj and related rituals should not be the only reason to travel to Saudi: this country has enough historical sites to become a tourist destination throughout the year.
- Engage Citizens: Many Saudi citizens have lost their citizenship due to the King’s insecurities of losing control. Honor these people’s nationality and engage them as rightful citizens. Create opportunities for these people to proudly serve their country instead of hiding in fear of their security. Restore their citizenship.
Saudi Arabia cannot call for reform and make surface changes when its jails are filled with political prisoners, and its citizens are unhappy living in their own country.
Mr. Advisor, when you keep a King happy, you only matter as much as he is benefited. When you make his people happy, they will follow you around as long as they exist.
PM Tony Blair – Wiki Creative Commons