End support for dictatorships

End British government support for dictatorships - it backfires and increases terrorism

British governments under both the Conservatives and Labour have supported dictatorships with political backing, arms sales, training for their police and militaries, military aid (subsidising their arms purchases) and tacit guarantees that they will use force to stop their own people overthrowing them

They continue to do so to this day, backing everyone from the corrupt, torturing, extreme fundamentalist Saudi monarchy in Saudi Arabia, to President Mubarak in Egypt and Colonel Gadaffi in Libya, to mention just a few.

The theory is that these governments are "moderates" who will prevent extremists getting into power.

Tell that to the family of the Lebanese TV psychic sentenced to death for witch-craft in Saudi Arabia recently (and only having his execution postponed because of international media coverage), or the parents of the girls who burned to death when their school went on fire, because the religious police of Saudi Arabia forced them back into the burning building to die in case they were seen "improperly dressed" in the street. Many Saudis and foriegners in Saudi are tortured into confessing to crimes they didn't commit, then executed with their confession as the only evidence.

Apart from being extreme themselves these dictatorships close off any possibility of Muslims and other opponents of the dictatorships (from liberals to socialists, conservatives, environmentalists and feminists) being able to express their views peacefully. This boosts terrorist groups as they can point to it as evidence that they will never be allowed to promote their beliefs through campaigning peaceful, democratic elections - and gain new recruits as a result (which is also why refusing to recognise Hamas' victory in Palestinian parliamentary elections found free and fair by EU election observers in 2006 is a mistake).

President Mubarak of Egypt has banned the main opposition party - the Muslim brotherhood- because it opposes him - and has gained backing from western governments to do so because the Muslim brotherhood are Islamic fundamentalists. However they fail to notice what experts like Professor Fawaz Gerges and investigative journalists like Loretta Napolini have - that Islamic political parties are not always allies of violent jihadists. In fact Gerges has pointed out that the Muslim brotherhoods in Jordan and Egypt are often targets of terrorist attacks by violent jihadists who see anyone involved in the democratic process as a "collaborator".

By preventing Islamic parties taking part in democratic politics the dictatorships backed by the British, French and American governments are not reducing terrorism, but increasing it, by making more Muslims in their countries conclude that the only way they will be allowed any say at all in the government of their countries is by meeting the violence of the dictators with violence of their own.

As Gerges shows in his book "the Far Enemy" our governments' backing for these dictatorships led to September 11th. Bin Laden's second in command Zawahiri was originally joined al Qa'ida to try to get revenge for being tortured by the US, French and British backed dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak in Egypty.

Zarqawi was similarly radicalised by being tortured by the British backed monarchy of Jordan.

Backing dictatorships is both wrong and increases the threat of terrorist attacks on civilians in our own country

The recognition given by the British, US and EU governments to regimes installed by military coups involving the torture and killing of thousands in Thailand and in Honduras is almost as bad.

So is the refusal to allow Jean Bertrand Aristide, the elected President of Haiti, who remains the most popular politician in the country due to his concern for the poor and hungry majority there, to return to his country. Aristide was elected by a large majority in 1991, overthrown by a US and French military coup, restored with many conditions (all of which made the poor of Haiti poorer) in 1994, re-elected again, then overthrown again in another US backed coup in 2004.

These dictatorships are one of the main reasons why so many people in these countries are poor, hungry and oppressed - and why even the minority who aren't poor want to go abroad to a democracy where they're free to express their opinions without being tortured, jailed or executed without fair trial.

They tend to be corrupt as well, taking much of the aid meant for their people for themselves.

They're not even reliable allies either. The British and American governments backed Saddam Hussein's dictatorship for decades - then ended up at war with him; just as the US did with Noriega in Panama. All the Shah's regime did was provoke an Islamic revolution in Iran - if the CIA and MI6 hadn't overthrown the moderate nationalist Mossadeq for trying to nationalise his own country's oil industry in 1953 there would have been no Islamic revolution in 1979 and no hostility between Iranians and the US and Britisih governments. Support for General Musharraf's military dictatorship similarly back-fired. He played a double game - aiding the Taliban in Afghanistan while fighting those in Pakistan (much like his successors). British and American support for Islam Karimov's dictatorship in Uzbekistan resulted in them saying nothing while people were boiled alive and had their fingernails pulled out (with the excellent British Ambassador Craig Murray sacked for criticising this) - yet Karimov returned to the Russian side soon after.

All support for dictatorships should be ended.