UK UAE Row: It is unclear how Successfully UAE-Saudi coalition were able to influence UK policy process at large. However, a detailed report by Spinwatch makes it pretty evident that it was successful enough to sweep in corruption for creating a desired pro-Saudi narrative in UK.
The British arms company BAE covertly paid Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia an astounding amount of more than £1 bn. The connection between BAE and Saudi Arabia is alleged questioned even today. It is hinted that a series of payments were released by the British firm, using a US bank in Washington. Moreover, the account linked to the bank was controlled by the member of the kingdom’s reigning clan, who had spent more than two decades as the ambassador to the US.
The claims further state that the payment of £30m was paid to the prince every quarter, since the last 10 years. According to inside sources, the amount was paid to the Former Prince Bandar, under the supervision of Tony Blair’s government. However, the ministers claimed that they did not have an idea of how secret commissions were illicitly transferred by Britain in 2002.
Also, when the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) inquired about the transactions worth £43bn under the Al-Yamamah arms deals agreement of 1985, it was found that not only did Prince Bandar receive the funds, but the transaction details remained uncovered as well.
However, the investigation was stopped in December 2006 following orders from the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, who said that it was in the interest of Britain’s national interest to halt the inquiry. Besides, Tony Blair also said that he takes full responsibility for the decision made.
On the other hand, conferring to the fact about those familiar with discussions happening during the same period, Lord Goldsmith had advised his colleagues about the British ‘government complicity’. Implying, that the government was in danger of getting exposed, unless SFO’s corruption inquiries were forcefully stopped.
The SFO’s sudden halt of investigation also meant that the government was not free from corruption and hence, it stopped the investigation, fearing catastrophic outcomes. However, this led to a commotion from anti-corruption campaigners, leading to the world’s official bribery watchdog, OCED, launching its own investigation.
The allegations of uncovered payments to Prince Badar, thus, fueled another controversy over the original deal and the real reason why SFO’s investigation was stopped.
The Saudi Diplomat is known to have played a major role with then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, and in what was regarded as the biggest ever deal of weapons. For over two decades, Al-Yamamah, was already involved in the weapon sale and had already given 120 Tornado aircraft, Hawk warplanes and the other military equipment.
According to the legal sources familiar with the records, BAE made payments to Prince Bandar of Saudi, and the money was drawn out by the confidential account at the Bank of England. Up to £2bn a year was deposited in the accounts as a part of the agreement, which allowed Saudi oil to be sold in return for the shipment of tornado aircraft and other arms.
Moreover, the British government declined on sharing the documents depicting Bandar’s payments that would have helped American prosecutors with payments made in the deals authorized by the Ministry of Defense officials. Ministers, on the other hand, claimed that no covert commission payments and BAE were made.
After this incident, MBZ directly threatened in favor of UAE in UK, which included a series of threats. One threat that was made by the UAE to David Cameroon was that if he does not influence the foreign policy making in UK, they will cancel the fighter jet deals from British Airspace and also the concession that British Petroleum received from the UAE.
According to the report by Spinwatch, other efforts by UAE to coax and weaken the British Government into influencing foreign policy include, putting pressure on top media houses over their coverage of Arab Spring, RT donations to think Chatham House for influencing the decision making, UK journalists having close contacts with UAE’s foreign minister forced to promoted hatred, and the PR firm’s bid to take away the hosting right of FIFA 2022 World Cup.
Therefore, paying billions in return for influence, infiltrating the British media, buying the big politicians, donating money to think tanks and trying to influence the media coverage, is a strategy way beyond the ordinary. Clearly, this proves how both Saudi and UAE have been playing with the sovereignty of UK’s foreign policy for their personal benefits. Also, the recent typhoon jet deal between BAE and Saudi Arabia has brought forward that 48 Eurofighters will be given by the British arms company to help Saudi achieve their so called 2030 vision, which focuses on economic diversification.