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The hypocrisy of Dirco

  • 2b-Letter7
With more revelations emerging about the alleged murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi by agents of Saudi Arabia, the South African government has vacillated and delayed issuing any reliable comment. Nor has it followed those countries who have not only sharply criticised the Saudis, but suspended arms sales to that country.
by Allan Wolman, Johannesburg | Nov 01, 2018

Both the United Kingdom and United States, predictably, have not suspended arms sales. In fact, the US under Trump has failed to issue any strong language against the Saudis. But where does the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) stand on this issue?

Very recently, the Saudi government made overtures to South Africa about buying a controlling interest in South African arms manufacturer Denel. This, in the light of the latest obscenity of the murder of Khashoggi, and the terrible bombing of school children in Yemen, where the civilian death toll has reached hundreds of thousands, and the United Nations has labelled the war as the worst human rights disaster facing the world today.

Yet, South Africa has remained silent in the face of these obscenities, and has announced that no decision has been made thus far about the proposed sale of Denel to the Saudis (which must read as, yes, we are seriously considering such an acquisition).

Our hypocrisy doesn’t end there. We still maintain a diplomatic mission and ambassador in Syria where to date, well over half a million civilians and counting have been butchered by a demented dictator. There are no calls for recalling our ambassador, nor for downgrading our mission in that country, and no similar calls for the same action against the Saudis. But the ANC government continues to lobby for recalling its ambassador from Israel, and the downgrading of diplomatic ties with that country. Is this the South African way of claiming the moral high ground? More than half a million murdered in Syria and a few hundred thousand in Yemen, but it’s only Israel that Dirco can point its finger at.

The catastrophe of the Arab world, with not only dead and wounded, but human-rights deprivations in almost every Arab country in the Middle East, seems to have bypassed our foreign affairs ministry in its quest to blacklist Israel as the only abuser on the globe.

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