The Saudi emir of Mecca, Prince Khalid bin Faisal bin Abdulaziz, welcomes David Cameron on arrival in Jeddah in November [Image: AFP/Getty Images].

Britain has been challenged to withdraw its support for Saudi Arabia as chair of the UN human rights council panel as the closeness of the UK-Saudi relationship was dismissed as sycophantic by Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrat leader, and Labour called for an end to judicial cooperation with Riyadh.

The outcry from British politicians came after the Foreign Office initially described the announcement of the execution of 47 people, including the prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, as disappointing.

[Mr Farron said:] “The UK government has now got itself into a position where it is almost sycophantic to the Saudi Arabian regime. When things like this happen we need to be clear in our condemnation of them, not just because they are morally wrong, but because they undermine the diplomatic processes that are key to solving the Syria crisis.”

But in a sign of Britain’s close connections with Saudi Arabia, the former UK ambassador to Riyadh nonetheless said the recent executions of al-Qaida supporters, who were among the 47 executed on Saturday along with Nimr, were understandable.

Source: Lib Dems and Labour urge Cameron to withdraw Saudi Arabia support | Politics | The Guardian

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