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Praetorian Guards

Praetorian Guards

There is a familiar ring to this exit strategy being played out by the Saudi Commander in Chief who finds himself facing a guillotine of international (America excluded) condemnation.

The news bulletin said 18 Saudi nationals have now been detained as part of the continuing probe and restructuring of the command of the general intelligence agency under the supervision of Mohammed bin Salman.

Journalist Jamal Khashoggi died after a fight in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the country's state TV reported quoting an initial probe.

It said deputy intelligence chief Ahmad al-Assiri and Saud al-Qahtani, senior aide to Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, were dismissed over the affair.


There is a movie- “Breaker Morant” – based on fact – commanders of an Australian unit in South Africa during the Boer War – following Commander- in- Chief Kitchener’s verbal instructions, “Take No Prisoners” – later find themselves before a Court Martial for War Crimes - and were executed.

During the 1981 Springbok Tour Red Squad, was told by Commissioner Walton at Palmerston North Venue where Red Squad was lining up against several thousand protesters, buoyed by their success at Hamilton: “I don’t care what you do but stop them.” After the Tour, Red Squad were not ‘executed’, but the Squad and personnel were intimidated, humiliated, treated unlawfully and persecuted.

The similarity between Red Squad and Breaker Morant’s squad – is not lost on me. Nor does the similarity of the fate of Saudi King Salman’s praetorian guard.

The reality is that Societies will always provide “recruits” for Prince or President, to do dirty work necessary to preserve that principal.

I’m sure a PhD thesis would demonstrate that in most cases, the “recruits” have come from less well-educated working class to lower socio-economic strata.

But I’m also sure (and hope); that the difference between misguided altruism which (in my view) manifest in the above examples of Boer War and Red Squad is a quantum leap from (as example) CIA personnel torturing prisoners in Abu Ghraib and Security Personnel employed by Saudi Arabia to impose its version of justice on Jamal Khashoggi.

May NZ never descend to the latter category, although Tuhoe Maori and DOT COM and The Clowns might hold the view that we came perilously close.

Ross Meurant www.rossmeurant 20 October 2018


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