Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Blair in secret Saudi mission


According to David Leigh and Ewen MacAskill, in The Guardian, 27 September 2005, Tony Blair has been holding secret talks with Saudi Arabia.

Reportedly, Blair wants 'an arms deal worth up to £40bn'.

According to The Guardian, the Saudis are demanding three favours:

1. Britain should expel two anti-Saudi dissidents, Saad al-Faqih and Mohammed al-Masari.

The Saudis believe that Mr Faqih was involved in a plot to assassinate the recently enthroned King Abdullah.

2. British Airways should resume flights to Riyadh.

3. A corruption investigation implicating the Saudi ruling family and BAE should be dropped.

Crown prince Sultan's son-in-law, Prince Turki bin Nasr, 'is at the centre of a "slush fund" investigation by the Serious Fraud Office.'

Acording to The Guardian:

Mike Turner, the chief executive of BAE, Britain's biggest arms company, was quoted in Flight International magazine on June 21, just before Mr Blair's Riyadh trip, saying: "The objective is to get the Typhoon into Saudi Arabia. We've had £43bn from Al Yamamah over the last 20 years and there could be another £40bn."

There is concern within the Foreign Office at the apparent partiality of No 10 to BAE's commercial interests. Jonathan Powell, Mr Blair's chief of staff, and his brother Charles, Lady Thatcher's former adviser and now a BAE consultant, are believed to be in favour of the deal.


Questions were asked in Parliament over claims Mark Thatcher received millions of pounds in commission from a 1985 arms sale to Saudi Arabia.



"The real profit has most likely been into the pockets of those who orchestrated the deals. The pervasive scandal and rumour surrounding Al Yamamah suggest that the motivation behind supplying the kingdom may have come from those few individuals who directly benefited from ‘commission’ payments."



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