The Somerset Guardian, 17th October 2018

The situation in Saudi Arabia is one of the most difficult and complicated in modern international politics.

Any action taken by the West must be strategically balanced. We rely on Saudi Arabia for oil and this puts it in an extremely powerful position as the second largest proven reserve in the world after Venezuela. There is also the question of the Iran-Saudi Arabia Proxy Conflict in Yemen. The continuing struggle between these two nations for influence in the Middle East is one of the most troubling conflicts of our time.

The regime in Saudi Arabia is unarguably autocratic. Its politics are totalitarian and theocratic while its human rights abuses, especially the status of women, are notorious. When these behaviours spill over into other territories a question of legality as well as morality must be at the forefront of any discussion.

A report expected to be issued by Saudi Arabia may claim that Jamal Khashoggi was killed on Turkish soil owing to a ‘botched’ interrogation. Even if Saudi Arabia takes responsibility for the journalist’s murder it says there will be ‘global economic repercussions’ if it is punished. This leaves the West in a Catch-22 situation. Should its liberal-democratic sensibilities remain intact at the expense of being cut-off from resources that it is so heavily reliant upon or should it take the moral high ground with the risk of further de-stabilisation in the Middle East and global economics? There is no easy answer. Unfortunately, it is just a case of working out which is the lesser of two evils.

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