The treatment of Sir Kim is so typical of this time in politics, it’s dangerous, says Fisk
Trump’s hissy-fit over Darroch will blow a chill wind across Britain’s embassies in the Middle East
The betrayal of our man in Washington sends a message to every British diplomat: don’t criticise the dictators or their cops or their torturers. Stick to the cocktail circuit. And whatever you do, don’t tell the truth
The Independent Voices
Just for a moment, let’s forget poor old Kim Darroch. Let’s jump a couple of days in front of this news story. Let me tell you how his utter humiliation and sacrifice at the hands of Trump – and with the connivance of the man who will probably be the next British prime minister – will affect the Middle East.
Let’s go first to Riyadh where, just off Al Khawabi street, stands the British embassy, wherein labours Simon Collis, our man in Saudi Arabia. He’s previously served in Bahrain, Tunis, Amman, Dubai, Qatar, Damascus and Baghdad. In other words, he’s an old Arab hand. He’s also a Muslim convert and the first British ambassador to make the pilgrimage to Mecca.
But right now, Collis is going to be thinking very carefully when he reports back to the Foreign Office about the Kingdom upon which he must report fully, fairly and truthfully for his government. For all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten his reputation if The Leaker gets his hands on the diplomatic bag from Riyadh.
For it’s Collis who must report on the antics of Mohammad bin Salman, the author of the blood-soaked Yemen war and, according to the CIA, the dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi.
I don’t presume to guess what Collis says about this very dangerous man. But he must surely have told his masters that the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia is – at the very least – uniquely dysfunctional, incompetent and inept. Or words to that effect. This would apply to both the Yemen slaughter and the chopping-up of Khashoggi.
Much worse has been said about bin Salman, and I doubt if he’d throw a Trump-like hissy-fit if he learned that Simon Collis had written so unkindly of him. But I doubt if a leak of the ambassador’s “dipreps” would garner many more invitations to the Royal Palace. It would not ease the passage of the next tranche of weapons which we plan to sell the plucky little prince for possible air raids on Yemen.
Collis wouldn’t be dismembered. But a prince’s anger can embrace an ambassador or two, and at 63 – two years before retirement – Collis’ professional life would come to an abrupt halt.
Now let’s fly up the northern coast of the Gulf and across Sinai to Cairo, take the half-hour taxi journey into town and gaze upon the magnificent Nileside embassy of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Here, in Cairo’s Garden City suburb, Sir Geoffrey Adams, our man in Egypt, political descendant of Evelyn Baring and Myles Lampson, composes his regular reports to the Foreign Office. His dispatches must contain the latest and most terrifying reports of the police state which field marshal-president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi runs with cruel efficiency, after deposing the government of the country’s first democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi.
Sir Geoffrey must have reported the death of Morsi in his trial cage last month. And he must have told the Foreign Office his views on the ruthless president, of Sisi’s Pharaonic dreams of a new Cairo, his useless “enlargement” of the Suez Canal, his outrageous incarceration of 60,000 political prisoners, his state police torturers, and the corrupt financial basis of the Egyptian army’s wealth.