It has come to light that ir Tony Blair’s institute has continued to advise and receive funding from the Saudi government since the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
The Sunday Times reported that the former prime minister’s organization is involved in a multimillion-pound partnership to aid in the modernisation of the country under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
In 2018, the prince, who is the de facto leader of the Gulf state, was accused of ordering the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
He has denied any involvement and pointed the finger at rogue agents.
After Mr. Khashoggi’s death, Sir Tony’s spokesman verified that the institute had continued its participation in Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, an ambitious economic reform program designed to boost tourism and reduce reliance on oil.
Internal “anxieties” were initially expressed, according to a statement, as the institute pondered how to proceed with the partnership, which began in 2017, following the murder.
In the end, however, Sir Tony believed that continued engagement was “justified” despite the “terrible crime,” and neither staff nor board members opposed the decision, according to the spokesman.
“The renewed engagement of the United States and Western nations with Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman demonstrates the correctness of this decision,” a statement said.
It follows a report by the Financial Times that Rishi Sunak invited the prince to the United Kingdom in the fall. At the time, Downing Street declined to comment.
A visit to the United Kingdom would be the latest indication that Western nations are welcoming the crown prince back into the diplomatic fold following his exclusion following the murder.
Following Brexit, the United Kingdom intends to strengthen its ties with the kingdom despite concerns over its human rights record in order to attract investment from the oil-rich Gulf.
Details of the voyage have not yet been finalized, according to the Financial Times, which quotes an official as saying, “It’s more up to them, given that we need them more than they need us.”
Mr. Sunak conferred with Prince Mohammed on the sidelines of the November 2018 G20 summit in Bali, where the leaders discussed social reforms and civil liberties, but not the murder of Mr. Khashoggi, as stated by No. 10 at the time.
Last year, when he met with the crown prince to discuss energy and security issues, US President Joe Biden brought up the subject, indicating that he believed the Saudi leader was culpable for the murder.
According to a statement from Sir Tony’s office, he “believed then and continues to believe now that the programme of social and economic change underway in Saudi Arabia is of immense and positive importance to the region and the world… the relationship with Saudi Arabia is of critical strategic importance to the West, and therefore staying engaged there is justified”