søndag 29. mars 2015

The Swedish government's retreat in the Saudi matter, a stain on its political file

The Swedish government's website had this press release mars 27th

"The Swedish government's envoy, Björn von Sydow, has today in Riyadh conveyed the government's well-known desire for respectful and good relations between Saudi Arabia and Sweden. This found place during talks between von Sydow and King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud and Prince Mohammed bin Salman earlier today. Von Sydow expressed this Swedish government's wish to develop bilateral relations between Saudi Arabia and Sweden.

- It is very positive that the government's envoy was received by King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud and Prince Mohammed bin Salman, says Foreign Minister Margot Wallström. We hope to soon see the Saudi ambassador back in Stockholm and return to normal relations between our countries. The many contacts we have had, from a broad spectrum of Swedish society, contributes to normalizing the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Sweden. We have as well stated that we did not mean to insult Islam or Saudi Arabia". (My translation from Swedish)

Today I could read this news article in arabnews.com

Sweden has apologized for the recent offensive remarks by its foreign minister against the laws of Saudi Arabia and hoped for better relations between the two countries.

 Hailing the role of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman in protecting Islam and its holy places, Sweden said it is looking forward to welcoming back the Saudi ambassador to Stockholm.

The kingdom had recalled its ambassador soon after the uncalled for remarks by Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom.

 In a message to King Salman, Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven expressed “deep sorrow and regret over the current crisis in the relations between the two countries” while stressing his government’s keenness to maintain healthy relations between the two countries.

Lofven also said the role of King Salman in protecting Islam and its holy places is clear and that his government was concerned over the deterioration of the relations between the two countries following the controversial comment by his cabinet minister". 

Sweden said sorry to the whip holder

The Saudi dictator have won the diplomatic battle. The  Saudi media is now playing its propagandist role using words carefully and referring from the defeated prime minister's apology. Just look at the chosen picture for the news. 


Sweden says sorry and hails king Salman, is the Saudi message

I am nor surprised neither shocked. I know that political games are mostly dirty. I should admit though that I believed one single politician could stick to principles and defend her ethical and political platform. Instead the foreign minister, Margot Wallström, and the Swedish government with Stefan löfven on its head, have only shown weakness and lack of clear political line. The Social Democratic Party asked the Swedish king to interfere in the crisis, which he did, making the party's republican stand to a bad joke.
For the Saudi people, Saudi liberals  and Arab democrats in general, Löfven's apology to a regime which represents the most primitive political system in the Middle East, is a slap in the face. This reminds me why I never considered to become a politician or a diplomat. 

Arab news agencies have correctly reported that Wallstrøm have met a wave of criticism at home. They have though not reported  about the support for her criticism. The whole picture, the diversity in the public opinion, dosen't fit in in the biased black and white Arab official reporting. The summary of this political adventure is that the Saudi has strengthen its position.

A weak and shaky government can be obliged to resign in Sweden. It can be beaten in political elections in near future. That is not the real problem. What really bothers me now is that the Löfven-government has sent the wrong message to Arab people hoping for change towards democracy and respect for Human Rights. The message says that money is what counts, even for politicians in democratic rich countries, not the Arab struggle for justice and positive development, and their dreams to leave better societies for their children than the ones they were born in to. 

Saudi and Arab liberals should not expect too much of politicians in the West. They get the message, and may be their voices will not be heard for a time.  
At home this will definitely cost the Social Democratic Party many votes.
PS. Just seconds before I post this blog, I get a new article on my screen.
The Arab media s party have just begun...