Truss and Qatar: PM set to deepen relations with authoritarian Gulf state

Truss at No 10
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Prime minister Liz Truss has indicated she will court Qatar as an energy partner to counter the UK’s energy crisis. The authoritarian regime, known for its long list of human rights violations, is already closely aligned to the UK and will host the World Cup in December. Doha News reported that the Qatari and British energy ministers had spoken on Tuesday 5th October. But at the centre of these new plans, there is a gaping contradiction.

Because Truss herself told Tories in her conference speech the following day that the UK had been reliant on gas from authoritarian regimes – meaning Russia – as Declassified UK were quick to point out:

Read on...

Presumably Qatar isn’t an authoritarian regime to Truss’s mind. Though quite a few people would disagree…

Qatari regime

Qatar is an authoritarian monarchy, like many of its Gulf neighbours. And like them, Qatar is the recipient of massive amounts of British military equipment.

As the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) explains:

Qatar is an authoritarian state with strict judicial constraints on freedom of expression. Detainees are subject to beatings and cruel treatment while a great many immigrant workers are trapped in conditions of forced labour.

Also according to CAAT, Qatar was the 10th largest importer of arms globally between between 2015 and 2019. With UK arms exports licenses accounting for ÂŁ384mn of the national total. In 2018 BAE Systems and Qatar signed a deal for Eurofighter underwritten by the government to the tune of ÂŁ4.5bn. Meaning if Qatar defaults, BAE gets paid by the taxpayers.

The World Cup

These deals, and now any energy agreement which is reached, are conducted under the shadow of Qatar’s various human rights abuses. Of acute importance in 2022 is the treatment of migrant workers who have prepared Qatar to host the World Cup.

Amnesty’s detailed 2020/21 report lists Qatar’s terrifying record on LGBT rights, women’s rights and trade unions. It also details the ‘kafala’ system to which many workers have been subjected. Kafala is, in effect, a system of indentured servitude which stops workers, for example, leaving the country or switching jobs.

Human Rights Watch has said:

the kafala system remains in place and continues to facilitate the abuse and exploitation of the country’s migrant workforce.

Many migrant workers come from places like India and Bangladesh and have been forced to live and work in squalid conditions. Some estimates put the death toll for south Asian migrant labourers since Qatar won its bid for the World Cup at 6750.

Human rights disaster

Truss is well known for her clangers. And her latest plan to wean Britain off gas from a hardline regime, by getting it from a different hardline regime is another in a long of line of transparently stupid decisions. The energy crisis is very real, but it’s also the right time to start transitioning away from fossil fuels and towards more sustainable energy.

Given she is literally the prime minster of the country, she clearly has the power. It’s time to stop being a moral vacuum on the matter of workers rights for the sake of resources.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons/US Ambassador to the UK, cropped to 770 x 403

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  • Show Comments
      1. Do you really imagine that a Labour government, of any ilk, would act differently? The historical record does not lead me to conclude otherwise, given the blood-soaked hands of many Labour prime ministers over such disasters as Biafra and Yemen in the 1960s. Morality is of no importance to Labour, any more than to Tories.

    1. We are in an energy crisis, because Thatcher privatised our utilities, along with Shell and BP. Labour never reversed Thatcher’s privatisation, but continued to pursue her policies. We have oil and gas production wells off the UK’s coast, but most of this is exported. We actually import a lot of our gas from Norway!
      Despite our politicians being informed of the need to move away from exponential growth and fossil fuels, with the Club of Rome’s ‘Limits to Growth’ in 1972. Followed by the Brundtland report, ‘Our Common Future’ in 1987. Our politicians have ignored the importance of moving away from fossil fuels, to real renewable energy and energy efficiency. Even now, we have property developer, building homes and other structures, which are very energy inefficient. A lot of these are subsidised by the Government.
      Until we get rid of Proportional Representation and a complete clear out of the Conservatives and Labour in our Government, local and national, things are going to get a lot worse in the UK.

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