We regret if there is something that has been perceived as if

There’s this article at the Gatestone Institute – a source I’m wary of, because I don’t know how reliable it is, but it provides some material I don’t see anywhere else.

After weeks of diplomatic wrangling and recrimination, the Saudi government on March 27 announced that it would reinstate its ambassador, Ibrahim bin Saad bin Ibrahim al-Brahim, to Stockholm. The ambassador had been recalled on March 11 as a protest against Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström’s criticism of Saudi Arabia’s legal practices and treatment of women.

“Weeks” of diplomatic wrangling is a strange way to put it, because March 11 to March 27 is 16 days. It’s two weeks; “weeks” sounds like more than that. Anyway, Saudi said the ambassador could go back. Did Sweden do any backing down to make this happen? Hard to say.

It is not exactly clear what motivated the Saudi king to resume diplomatic relations with Sweden. What is known is that Foreign Minister Wallström and Prime Minister Stefan Löfven have been quick to stress that is had never been their intention to slight Islam, which they now claim has made great contributions to human civilization, nor the Saudi kingdom.

Yes but they can say that while still criticizing the human rights mess. That’s what diplomats do.

Three letters to King Salman — one from Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf and two from Prime Minister Löfven – were hand-delivered in Riyadh by Björn von Sydow, a high-ranking emissary of the Swedish government. Their contents are unknown, following a decision by the Swedish foreign office to classify them as secret. This decision came after the foreign office claimed it could not find the letters.

Prime Minister Löfven and Foreign Minister Wallström have said repeatedly that the letters do not contain any apology to Saudi Arabia. According to the daily Expressen, however, Saudi Arabia demanded a number of concessions from Sweden –­ one of them, an apology. It is clearly the impression in the Arab world that Sweden has in fact apologized.

Well, I hope not. I hope they gave some kind of ersatz apology while sticking to their position that Saudi Arabia shouldn’t do things like flogging people for talking about human rights and secularism.

On March 28, Expressen quoted Löfven as saying: “We have explained [to the Saudis, ed.] that we regret if there is something that has been perceived as if we have criticized Islam, which we have never done.” The Prime Minister added that Sweden has no intention of ever criticizing Islam. He continued: “We have the greatest respect for Islam as a religion.”

Löfven was keen to emphasize that “Sweden still stands for human rights. It is immensely important for us to do that. At the same time we also wish to develop cooperation with Saudi Arabia.”

Ah well there you are, you see, there’s the escape clause. “We wouldn’t dream of criticizing Islam. We’re criticizing you.” Of course they said it in a more oily and flattering way than that, but it’s what Löfven seems to hint.

The rest of the piece is speculative bullshit, thus confirming my doubts about Gatestone.


  1. says

    Maybe the letters said something like: “Feel free to pretend to your people that this letter contains an apology, if that’s what you need to save face.”

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