Terrorism, Manchester and the west’s foreign policy

The Guardian- On 19 May 2015, as home secretary, Theresa May, was openly criticised at the Police Federation conference by a former Manchester police officer, Inspector Damian O’Reilly, who had been named community officer of the year in 2010, but had subsequently resigned in frustration over policing cuts. He told May bluntly: “We run the risk here of letting communities down, putting officers at risk and ultimately risking national security.” May accused the police of “scaremongering”.

May wants to be elected on a strong and stable platform. But her actions belie her words. Jeremy Corbyn is absolutely right to identify British foreign policy as a proximate cause of – not a justification for – terrorist threats (Report, 26 May). Six weeks ago, the PM led a trade mission to Saudi Arabia. Under fire from Labour, she denied the UK had been selling its principles for the sake of trade deals for the post-Brexit era. Saudi Arabia is primarily important for selling us oil, and spending billions on buying arms. But what is the record of the Saudis in combating extremism? On 5 October 2014, retired General Jonathan Shaw told the Daily Telegraph that Qatar and Saudi Arabia were “primarily responsible for the rise of the extremist Islam that inspires Isil terrorists,” emphasising “This is a timebomb funded by Saudi and Qatari money and that must stop.”

Arms sales and oil are the reason ministers refuse to face up to the perverse reality of Saudi support for terrorism, both against Iran-backed Shia Muslims in Syria and Iraq over the past decade, and innocent concertgoers in Manchester this week, when murderously attacked by an Islamic State-supporting suicide bomber, whose very ideology is exported from, and funded by, the Saudis.
David Lowry
Stoneleigh, Surrey

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