Bloomberg News

Saudi Papers Backs Russian, Chinese Goods Boycott in Middle East

February 18, 2012

Feb. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Two Saudi newspapers supported a boycott of Russian and Chinese products after the two countries vetoed a United Nations Security Council Resolution aiming to end the 11-month conflict in Syria.

The English-language Saudi Gazette and al-Sharq newspapers in the Eastern Province printed opinion pieces backing the boycott. The endorsement came after Sheikh Saleh Luhaidan, former chairman of the Supreme Judiciary Council of Saudi Arabia, called on Gulf oil producers to stop selling oil to Russia and China, according to a Feb. 7 statement published on the online newspaper al-Marsd.

“Various groups in the kingdom were reported to have launched a campaign to boycott Russian and Chinese products to send a message to the two countries that Arabs do not approve of their veto decision,” the Saudi Gazette wrote in an editorial today. “We hope that the campaign will catch fire not only in the kingdom but also in other countries, Arab and non-Arab alike.”

Russia and China vetoed UN Security Council resolution on Feb. 4 that aimed to facilitate a political solution to the conflict that had killed more than 5,400 people by Jan. 10, according to UN estimates. Since then, President Bashar al- Assad’s security forces have stepped up use of tanks and artillery to end the conflict, moving it toward a civil war.

‘Shameful Position’

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah said Feb. 10 that the world’s confidence in the UN was “shaken” after the Russian and Chinese veto. The kingdom has joined other Gulf Arab countries in seeking to isolate the Assad government. The Gulf Cooperation Council’s six members announced on Feb. 7 that they were expelling Syrian ambassadors from their capitals and withdrawing their own envoys.

The Arab League, which has imposed sanctions on Syria and backed the UN resolution calling for an interim government, on Feb. 12 said it will ask the Security Council to authorize a joint mission to supervise a cease-fire. Syria “categorically” opposes an international peacekeeping mission, Interfax news agency said citing its ambassador to Russia, Riad Haddad.

The calls for a boycott are reminiscent of the rejection of Danish products in 2008 after Danish newspapers reprinted cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. Saudi shopkeepers and consumers stopped selling and buying Danish goods in response.

“Even if our boycott will not affect the shameful position of China and Russia, this will definitely support the morale of the revolutionaries when they feel Muslims standing by them,” Abdul Rahman al-Bakry wrote in an opinion piece published in al- Sharq on Feb. 14.

“All Arabs and Muslim nations should boycott the products of these two countries in support of the Syrians,” Hammam Saeed, the head of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood, said in a statement posted on the movement’s website. “Vetoing the United Nations decision is considered an involvement in the bloodshed in Syria.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Glen Carey in Riyadh at gcarey8@bloomberg.net; Mourad Haroutunian in Riyadh at mharoutunian@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net


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