Britain increasingly willing to cosy up to nasty regimes

Britain increasingly willing to cosy up to nasty regimes
Published: 21 June 2018 (140 Views)
LONDON - What the crowd lacked in size, it made up for in noise. Fifty or so people waved Turkish flags and shouted their support for Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as he gave a speech at a think-tank in London.

Protesters responded with placards covered in a sinister image of the Turkish president and chants of "Erdogan, terrorist!"

The aim was to show that he "is not welcome in the UK", Elif Gun, a young activist, said.

"He is the killer of Kurds."

That is not a view shared by the British government. Erdogan's State visit on May 13 to 15 included a stiff Press conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May and a meeting with the queen.

The tour aimed to cultivate a blossoming relationship. In contrast to other Western powers, Britain was quick to offer the Turkish government its support after an attempted coup against it in 2016, and has remained quiet over human-rights violations.

It now hopes to benefit, with a number of arms deals in the offing.

Tony Blair's government toyed with the idea of an "ethical foreign policy", before giving in to economic imperatives. May has shown little regard for such concerns.

Since the vote in 2016 to leave the European Union, the government has published a slew of policy papers promising renewed engagement with the wider world, under a "Global Britain" slogan.

In practice, this has proved difficult. In the past year, Britain has lost an embarrassing vote at the United Nations (over the Chagos islands) and failed to send a judge to the International Court of Justice for the first time in the court's history.

Ironically, its greatest success has been in the EU, where May convinced 18 countries to expel Russian diplomats after the poisoning of an ex-spy in Britain.

Much attention is, thus, focused on strengthening bilateral relations. Doing so has often required ministers to bite their tongues.

In Africa, Britain has scrambled to improve relationships with some of the continent's worst human-rights offenders.

Sudan's President Omar-al Bashir has been indicted for genocide by the International Criminal Court (ICC), but Britain now has a "strategic dialogue" with the country, and in December, hosted a Sudan trade forum in London.

It is leading a charge to embrace the new President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson "the crocodile" Mnangagwa, who many believe will prove little better than his predecessor, Robert Mugabe.

Britain is promoting debt write-offs for Zimbabwe in exchange for commitment to reform.

Last year, Liam Fox, the trade secretary, buttered up another president, who has attracted the attention of the ICC, Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, who is being investigated for crimes against humanity committed during his war on drugs.

Drumming up trade, Fox wrote in a Philippine newspaper that Britain had a strong relationship with the country, built on "shared values and shared interests."

As well as visiting South-East Asia, diplomats are spending lots of time in the Gulf.

Foreign governments are well aware of Britain's new predicament. As Mnangagwa told the Financial Times: "Brex �? how do you call it? Brexit. Yes, it's a good thing because they will need us �? What they've lost with Brexit, they can come and recover from Zimbabwe."

This is uncomfortable for some cabinet Brexiteers. During the referendum campaign, Michael Gove, a leading Leaver, accused the EU of "appeasement" regarding Turkey, where, he argued, "democratic development has been put into reverse".

Around the same time, Boris Johnson described Erdogan as a "wankerer" — to rhyme with Ankara — and suggested that he had had sex with a goat, in an entry for a poetry competition (he won £1 000).

Alas, Johnson, now Foreign Secretary, was on an urgent overseas mission this week, and unable to meet the president.

- Economist

 0

You May Like These Videos

Comments

There are no comments.

Latest stories

Man loses 'Toyota Raum' to robbers

by Simbarashe Sithole | 21 September 2018 | 74 Views

International media stampede to interview Mnangagwa

by Staff Reporter | 21 September 2018 | 95 Views

Brutalising vendors must stop

by Jacob Mafume, MDC National Spokesperson | 21 September 2018 | 80 Views

I doubt if Dabengwa really endorsed Mnangagwa - Mthwakazi activist

by Stephen Jakes | 21 September 2018 | 137 Views

President Mnangagwa debuts at UNGA

by Bevan Musoko | 21 September 2018 | 133 Views

BREAKING: Harare - Johannesburg Intercape bus in accident, 10 people dead

by Staff reporter | 21 September 2018 | 272 Views

Stop unnecessary traveling to cholera affected areas - MIHR

by Stephen Jakes | 21 September 2018 | 104 Views

We need Mthwakazi restoration soon

by Stephen Jakes | 21 September 2018 | 95 Views

Rural development agenda should be on the priority list

by Stephen Jakes | 21 September 2018 | 96 Views

IMF offers to help Zimbabwe clear arrears

by Staff reporter | 21 September 2018 | 206 Views

Mugabe's party rejoins Mnangagwa's Zanu-PF

by Staff reporter | 21 September 2018 | 212 Views

Streak seeks ZC liquidation

by Staff reporter | 21 September 2018 | 120 Views

'Chamisa must not waste time fighting Mnangagwa'

by Staff reporter | 21 September 2018 | 212 Views

Chipanga appeal thrown out

by Staff reporter | 21 September 2018 | 154 Views

New minister cracks the whip

by Staff reporter | 21 September 2018 | 145 Views

Deal decisively with Parly delinquents

by Zvamaida Murwira | 21 September 2018 | 112 Views

Mthuli Ncube faces tough choices

by Lovemore Chikova | 21 September 2018 | 138 Views

Currency reform answer to Zimbabwe's economic woes

by Bongani Ngwenya | 21 September 2018 | 116 Views

Dabengwa ditches Chamisa, endorses Mnangagwa?

by Staff reporter | 21 September 2018 | 128 Views

Sibusiso Moyo alive & well

by Staff reporter | 21 September 2018 | 124 Views

'Mugabe University not a priority'

by Staff reporter | 21 September 2018 | 106 Views

Chamisa battles open rebellion

by Staff reporter | 21 September 2018 | 135 Views

Prophet up for pregnant woman rape

by Staff reporter | 21 September 2018 | 94 Views

Bulawayo pins hopes on devolution

by Staff reporter | 21 September 2018 | 77 Views

Nust shut down

by Staff reporter | 21 September 2018 | 129 Views

Zimbabweans want US or Zim dollar only, not SA Rand

by Staff reporter | 21 September 2018 | 128 Views

Chamisa's MDC Alliance starts merging into single party

by Staff reporter | 21 September 2018 | 80 Views

Vic Falls man hangs self after bar brawl

by Staff reporter | 21 September 2018 | 70 Views

Cholera hits Beitbridge

by Staff reporter | 21 September 2018 | 67 Views

Cop up for assault

by Staff reporter | 21 September 2018 | 49 Views

Gumbura hires Madhuku to challenge delayed trial

by Staff reporter | 21 September 2018 | 61 Views

Devolution will develop provinces with natural resources

by Staff reporter | 21 September 2018 | 45 Views

Family evicted, dumped in the bush

by Staff reporter | 21 September 2018 | 45 Views

Soul Brothers coming to Bulawayo

by Staff reporter | 21 September 2018 | 83 Views

Zimbabwean scientist wins Cambridge scholarship

by Staff reporter | 21 September 2018 | 46 Views

MDC Alliance activist jailed over arson threats

by Staff reporter | 21 September 2018 | 37 Views