Swedish Greens deputy Linnéa Engström calls for EU arms embargo against Saudi Arabia
MEPs add to growing condemnation of Saudi regime over Jamal Khashoggi death
Photo credit: PA Images
MEPs have added their voices to the growing condemnation of Saudi Arabia over the case of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, allegedly murdered in the Gulf regime's consulate in Turkey.
US President Donald Trump has warned of severe action if a link can be established between the disappearance of the dissident journalist and the Saudis.
Trump has called for a "few more days" for the three investigations that are taking place to conclude while several countries, including the UK, have pulled out of an upcoming Saudi investment conference.
With mystery still surrounding the exact fate of the US resident, MEPs have now voiced concern about future EU-Saudi relations, including lucrative arms sales to the gulf kingdom.
Leading the way is the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee chair David McAllister who said, “Free media and the protection of journalists are fundamental principles of the European Union.”
The German EPP deputy added, “The disappearance and alleged murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi must be thoroughly investigated.”
Swedish Greens MEP Linnéa Engström went even further calling for an arms embargo against Riyadh.
She said, “This case bluntly shows what kind of regime we're talking about. Being dependant on fossil fuels such as oil from these corrupt regimes which constantly violate human rights is a huge mistake. We need to stop dealing with regimes like this.”
“This case bluntly shows what kind of regime we're talking about. Being dependant on fossil fuels such as oil from these corrupt regimes which constantly violate human rights is a huge mistake. We need to stop dealing with regimes like this” Swedish Greens MEP Linnéa Engström
However, UK Conservative MEP Geoffrey van Orden said he did not support an embargo. Van Orden said, "The close relationship with Saudi Arabia is enormously important in terms of regional alliances and the balance of forces in the Middle East, as well as its wider economic and defence implications.
“We certainly do not wish to see an arms embargo. We hope for no impediments to the very genuine democratic and social reforms that have been taking place recently in the Kingdom. The circumstances of Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance therefore are a cause of grave concern."
Van Orden’s political group colleague Charles Tannock told this website, “I have never had any doubts as to the scant regard for individual human rights in Saudi Arabia ever since the 1980 ITV documentary "death of a princess" in which a Saudi princess was executed for adultery and most recently by the execution of a Shia cleric Al Nimr for protesting at the treatment of the Shia minorities there and the extent of the Wahhabi Salafist crackdown against perceived Iranian influence.
“Tragically the initial coalition air campaign in Yemen also demonstrated a complete disregard for the customary international rules of war as civilian areas were bombed randomly.
“It was only after international pressure, including the European Parliament resolution I co-authored, that the targeting was improved against legitimate military ones but the most recent civilian school bus attack raised serious questions again.
“I believe now Turkey should make public as a NATO country and democracy, what evidence it has to support its serious claim that Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul” UK Conservative MEP Charles Tannock
“Therefore when Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi went missing with accusations of him being murdered by a Saudi hit squad in its Istanbul consular premises I was not surprised as he was an irritant as a major critic to the Saudi authorities having denounced a number of things including the Yemen war prosecuted under the new young Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman.
“I believe now Turkey should make public as a NATO country and democracy, what evidence it has to support its serious claim that Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul”.
Tannock added, “I disagreed with the recent statement by the UK Foreign secretary that we share common values with Saudi Arabia as clearly we don't, but I still recognise the west has large commercial interests in bilateral trade deals and diaspora communities living and working there so we must maintain friendly relations while remaining critical at the brutality and lack of fundamental human rights in that strategic Middle Eastern country."
German deputy Manfred Weber, leader of the Parliament’s centre-right EPP group has also intervened, saying: “Media freedom is a fundamental right and a prerequisite for functioning democracy everywhere in Europe. If journalists cannot do their job freely, in the long run, our democracies will cease to be democracies.”
Further comment came from European council president Donald Tusk who recalled that 16 October was the first anniversary of the murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
He said, “Since then, other journalists have been murdered, also in Europe. Today we are all troubled by reports of the killing of the Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. I am absolutely convinced that without a free press, our societies will not be free. This is why I call for a full investigation to establish what happened, and to hold those responsible to account. The violence against journalists has to stop.”
From the NGO world, Willy Fautre, of Human Rights Without Frontiers, said, "The Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance presents a perfect opportunity for the EU to openly and firmly press Saudi Arabia to publicly elucidate this horrendous incident and to take retaliatory measures if Riyadh persists in denying any responsibility.”
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