Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the UK has attacked Jeremy Corbyn for what he called a “distortion” over the kingdom’s role in tackling ISIS.
Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz al Saud said that comments made by made by Corbyn and former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown suggesting his country supported extremism were an ‘insult’
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The Labour leader said on Tuesday there were several very big questions surrounding the rise of ISIS which remained unanswered, such as who is providing financial aid to the group.
Corbyn’s suggestion that Saudi Arabia may be involved in funding the terrorist group is a theory shared by many journalists and Middle East analysts.
The Independent reports: Writing in the Times, he said: “As the scourge of terrorism continues to spread, the blame game has begun. Saudi Arabia finds itself once again targeted by politicians such as Jeremy Corbyn and Lord Ashdown, who wrongly suggest that in some way we support radical extremism.
“I prefer to believe this is misunderstanding, not malice. The contrary is an insult to our government, our people and our faith.”
He said his nation had battling terrorism for “decades” and suggested that “neither the governments of the West or of the Middle East can do this alone”.
“Mistrust, misunderstanding and misrepresentation of Saudi Arabia’s role by British politicians can only make it harder for us to achieve this aim,” the ambassador added.
“These accusations are lobbed at Saudi Arabia on a daily basis; they are not helpful to anyone except the extremists who thrive on our division. Today, more than ever, distortion that serves political point-scoring (with all due respect) must take a back seat.”
Both the Labour leader and Lord Ashdown have raised questions over the militants’ funding and access to arms during the public debate about UK intervention in Syria.
Speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Corbyn said it was important to learn who is supporting ISIS before extending airstrikes against the group from Iraq into Syria.
He asked: “Who is funding Isis? Who is arming Isis? Who is providing safe havens for Isis? You have to ask questions about the arms that everyone has sold in the region, the role of Saudi Arabia in this. I think there are some very big questions.”
The former Liberal Democrat leader Lord Ashdown made similar allegations against Saudi Arabia last week when he called the close ties between the British Conservative Party and the Gulf state worrying.
He accused the government of failing to put pressure on Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states which he said were funding jihadism, saying: “The failure to put pressure on the Gulf states and especially Saudi and Qatar, first of all to stop funding the Salafists and the Wahhabists, secondly to play a large part in this campaign, and other actions where the Government has refused to have a proper inquiry into the funding of jihadism in Britain, leads me to worry about the closeness between the Conservative Party and rich Arab Gulf individuals.”