Western leaders are being criticized for praising King Abdullah, the 90-year-old monarch of Saudi Arabia who died in the early hours of Friday morning. His regime was marred by corruption, warmongering and numerous human rights abuses.
The British establishment remembered the King warmly, going so far as to request that flags around the country be flown at half-mast all day in his honor.
The Prince of Wales has flown to Saudi Arabia to pay his last respects. Prince Charles, who is believed to have been a close friend of the late monacrh has made frequent visits to the oil-rich kingdom. Last year he was seen participating in a ritual sword dance alongside members of the Saudi royal family
RT reports: US Secretary of State John Kerry described the late king as “a brave partner in fighting violent extremism who proved just as important as a proponent of peace.”
However, prior to a 2013 law which banned terrorist financing, Saudi Arabia had been described as “the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide,” according to US diplomatic cable leaked by WikiLeaks.
Former US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called Abdullah “a powerful voice for tolerance, moderation, and peace,” and lauded his dedication to “advancing the lives of his people at home as well as his country’s leadership abroad.”
Another leaked cable revealed that Saudi King had urged the US to strike Iran in order to destroy its nuclear program. Abdullah was recorded telling America to “cut off the head of the snake,” in a 2008 meeting with General David Petraeus.
The British establishment, meanwhile, remembers the King warmly, going so far as to request that flags around the country be flown at half-mast all day in honor of Abdullah. A government website notes that “local authorities are not bound by this request but may wish to follow it for guidance.”
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said, “I knew him well and admired him greatly. Despite the turmoil of events in the region around him, he remained a stable and sound ally, was a patient and skillful modernizer of his country leading it step by step into the future.”
Critics note that the monarch repeatedly moved to engineer further conflict in the Middle East. For instance, Abdullah had called on the US to provide more backing to the Sunni rebels fighting to overthrow the Assad regime in Syria.
In an Elysee Palace statement, France also lauded King Abdullah’s “vision of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”