Channel 4’s journalist Jon Snow made David Cameron visibly uncomfortable as he grilled the British prime minister why he agreed to a “squalid” deal with Saudi Arabia – “one of most human rights abusing regimes on earth.”
It was an excruciating interview to say the least, but an important one. Snow repeatedly bombarded his special guest with questions more journalists ought to ask all Western allies of the oil-rich Gulf kingdom.
The most difficult moment came when Snow brought up the exposure of a secret deal with the Saudi government – initiated by the U.K. – to ensure both nations’ election to the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2013.
“This sounds a bit squalid for one of the most human rights abusing regimes on earth,” Snow remarked.
Cameron dodged the comment by saying he “completely disagreed with them about their punishment routines, about the death penalty, about all those issues”.
Saudi Arabia has always been notorious for its utter disregard for human rights and the West, most notably the United States and U.K., have repeatedly looked the other way to protect strategic interests. However, the situation has lately been worse than ever with the mass murder of civilians in Yemen, the criminal negligence in the recent Hajj stampede, and record number of executions.
The country has recently come under increased scrutiny after moving to crucify Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, the young son of a government critic who was accused of participating in illegal protests and of firearm offenses – for which authorities were unable to provide any evidence.
When asked if he had called out Saudi officials over al-Nimr’s planned execution, Cameron admitted he himself had not raised the issue directly but the foreign secretary and the embassy had, adding he would look into it “if there is an opportunity.”
Snow asked Cameron thrice during the interview if he “completely disagreed” with Saudi Arabia over their “punishment routines,” to which the British PM simply replied: “Well, I’ve answered the question.”
“Well, that isn’t an answer, is it? I mean, we have done a horrid deal,” Snow retorted.
Keeping the awkwardness of the heated exchange aside, Jon Snow has certainly provided a brilliant example of how other media pundits should take Western politicians to task for supporting an incredibly oppressive regime.