Sorry, Matthew, but you weren’t in England: you were in the Arab Emirates

Matthew Hedges, the man who wasn’t spying, now complains that the Foreign Office failed him. His stated reasons for visiting the Arab Emirates was to gain knowledge for his PhD. A PhD is a postgraduate doctoral degree, awarded to students who complete an original thesis offering a significant new contribution to knowledge in their subject. It was stated that he had been working on a thesis about civil-military relations in the UAE since the Arab Spring, based on readily accepted literature. He went to the United Arab Emirates to conduct a series of interviews to help flesh out some of the theories and some of the empirical evidence that he had actually collected.

Now Mr. Hedges seems to be an educated man, who has lived in Arab Muslim countries, with their well-known adherence to Islamic ideas about Justice, the Rule of Law: and strong ideas about foreigners who come to their countries, and proceed to tell them how much better we do things in the Western World. So this alleged ‘academic’ goes on this trip into the Emirates, and proceeds to ask lots of questions about military systems adopted and proposed within the Emirates. I mean to ask only two questions. (1) Is he living in some strange cloud-cuckoo land; where no-one does anything underhand, and everyone tells the truth? And (2), If he doesn’t live within the aforementioned Cloud-Cuckoo country, is he truly as daft as he sounds?

And then folks, this Hedges bloke, who strangely enough works for a Cyber Intelligence company in the UK, gets himself arrested on spying charges while preparing to leave through Dubai International Airport. Now I have worked with Muslims, Arabs and others who inhabit the so-called Muslim Crescent, and there is one common denominator amongst all those lands, and the autocratic rulers of those unfortunate lands, and it is this, they have a supreme contempt for Democracy, and those nations who adhere, in any kind of way, to the ideals of Democracy and the Rule of Law. Whatever the Sultan wants, the Sultan gets; and so on down the ladder.

Long time back, living in South Africa, one of my wife’s friends was married to a bloke who was a hotel manager. He told me that he used to run a big hotel, part of a well-known American chain, in Kuwait City. Amongst many others, the hotel had a contract with an American Airline to house their pilots and stewardesses for stop-over purposes. A junior member of the Al-Sabah family, royal rulers of Kuwait, who was present in the hotel foyer when a group af airline staff were booking in, sent a message to the front desk asking for  the room number of this tall blonde stewardess, part of the airline staff.. The guy at the front desk, because he knew the hotel’s, as well as my mate’s policies on guest privacy, kicked the request up to my mate; who refused, point blank, to tell this greasy Arab which room the stewardess was allocated. The request was issued once again, but with the added message that the nephew of the King’s second cousin was asking. The request was firmly but politely refused. Twenty-four hours later, my mate was given twenty four hours to leave the country, his wife was given a month to sell up and leave.

That, my friends, is but typical of the power, and how that power is used, in the Arabic World. So when some wide-eyed Brit comes down the wadi, asking all sorts of leading questions about which military systems and hardware; the same bloke who writes, approvingly, of the Muslim Brotherhood and how it is perceived across the Arab World, is it any wonder that this fool wasn’t arrested earlier?

So he is arrested, questioned, shovelled into solitary confinement, and in a five-minute-long trial is convicted of spying charges. And the wider world erupts! Terrible, they state. The Brit. Foreign Office sends for the UAE Ambassador. Folks, I have to ask: “What the f**k did they expect”?.  The court wasn’t held at the Old Bailey; it was in Dubai; where very different standards prevail. After six months, he is pardoned, and kicked out. And now this silly prick is submitting a ‘formal complaint’ to that same Foreign Office. And our Foreign Minister? Promised a review. What a waste of time!


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