Paddy: Tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia “a far greater danger” than ISIL

Paddy Ashdown has told the Independent that the growing tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran in the wake of the Saudi executions carried out over the weekend is “a far greater danger” than ISIL. He said that the UK Government should be robust about calling the Saudis out for their actions:

Lord Ashdown said Saudi Arabia’s sudden mass execution of prisoners – including the prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr and a number of young political protesters – may have been intended to derail the ongoing Syrian peace talks in Vienna.

These executions are deeply, deeply destabilising to the very delicate situation that exists in the Middle East and the danger of a wider Sunni and Shia conflict. The West, including the UK government, is only just realising the danger of this and its implications for long term peace in the region. It poses a far greater danger in the long term than, for example, Isil,” the former Lib Dem leader added.

The UK Government should be making it explicitly clear that it regards this act as extremely destabilising. These executions are shocking in human rights terms and reveal the real nature of the people with whom we are dealing. The UK’s stance underlines its deeply illogical position of ignoring the funding of jihadist groups, including Isil, which is coming from within Saudi Arabia.

In the same article, Ming Campbell, while still critical of the Saudi actions said that he thought we shouldn’t be going out of our way to alienate either Saudi Arabia or Iran as we needed both of them onside against ISIL:

However, former Lib Dem leader Lord (Menzies) Campbell said that he believed the Government’s current approach to Saudi Arabia was correct. “The Saudi Arabian government is well aware of UK opposition to capital punishment as indeed are the Iranians who also practise it. There is no reason why we should not repeat that opposition as often as is necessary to do so,” he said.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Tim over the weekend , Paddy and Ming here , are all three correct , though I do not agree with Ming on the government, which is seen to be too cosy with Saudi Arabia ,yet it is essential we maintain dialogue . Having said that it has delivered little . Prisons , human rights commissions , a peculiar cosiness for sure , yet Britain cannot impress upon the Saudi s to release RAIF BADAWI !Instead , AN OUTRAGE !!!!!MASS EXECUTIONS !


  • Delivers OIL? perhaps a good case to get on with Fracking and extraction of shale gas?

  • Tsar Nicholas 4th Jan '16 - 10:08pm

    Good analysis by Paddy. Ming Campbell, though, is plain wrong.

  • Richard Underhill 5th Jan '16 - 12:57pm

    Please look at the casualties on both sides which happened in the Iran – Iraq war.
    The effect of the huge number of dead and wounded altered the demographics.
    At an AGM in Tunbridge Wells Nancy Seear told us that many women in the UK had not had husbands because of the deaths in World War One.
    Enid Lakeman agreed with her.

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