FAST FIVE: Selective Morality In London And Washington

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We are raising it with the Emirati authorities at the highest level.” The US was totally uncritical, which is not surprising as the official State Department line is “The United States and the UAE enjoy strong bilateral cooperation on a full range of issues including defence, non-proliferation, trade, law enforcement, energy policy, and cultural exchange.

The US State Department describes the place as seven semiautonomous emirates whose unelected rulers “constitute the Federal Supreme Council, the country's highest legislative and executive body.” The US, that stalwart promoter of democracy when not supporting dictatorships, is well aware that under the Emirates' authoritarian regime “there are no political parties” and its citizens are “unable to choose their government in free and fair elections” but, as in its treatment of that neighbouring absolute monarchy, Saudi Arabia, Washington's policy is to reinforce the rule of dictators when it seems a good thing to do so.

They are firmly based on mutual respect and joint determination to achieving the ambitions of their two peoples for sustainable development, social welfare and economic well-being,” which is a nauseating piece of double-speak, because in both countries “social welfare” is confined entirely to the small percentage of people who are actually citizens, and women are treated as chattels and worse.

In the UAE, “For a woman to marry, her male guardian must conclude her marriage contract; men have the right to unilaterally divorce their wives, whereas a woman must apply for a court order to obtain a divorce; a woman can lose her right to maintenance if, for example, she refuses to have sexual relations with her husband without a lawful excuse; and women are required to “obey” their husbands.” In Saudi Arabia it is almost exactly the same, as, for example, women must obtain permission from a “male guardian” – a twenty year-old son would do – to obtain a passport and travel abroad.

Britain's official position indicates that it would suffer severely if commercial arrangements with the UAE were to be upset, as it is “the UK's largest export market in the Middle East and the 13th biggest globally.

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