Before Anyone Apologises, Here Are Ten Things You Might Not Know About Slavery

During his visit to Jamaica, David Cameron was asked to give an apology on behalf of the British for their part in the slave trade. If you have a view on that naturally emotive subject, you might find some or all of these facts helpful in deepening your understanding. I found they made a difference to mine. None of these or any other facts in any way justify or mitigate the evil of slavery, past or present.

1. Slavery was not introduced to Africa by Europeans. It existed there before the first explorers and traders went there.

2. The first Europeans to participate in the slave trade were the Portuguese in the Fifteenth Century.

3. The British sent white British prisoners to work as slaves on the plantations in the Caribbean. They were the losers after the Battle of Worcester in the Civil War, The Batle of Sedgemoor in Monmouth’s Rebellion against James II and Jacobites in the 1715 Rebellion.

4. Slavery was held to be illegal in Britain because it violated the principles of Magna Carta etc. but was somehow considered acceptable in British Overseas Possessions.

5. White British and other Europeans were taken as slaves by pirates from Noth Africa during the late Middle Ages until the Eighteenth Century.

6. The British abolished slavery in 1833. Other European nations did so at various dates during the Nineteenth Century. Many Asian and Middle Eastern countries postponed its abolition until the Twentieth Century. In Saudi Arabia’s case it was 1974.

7. Compensation was paid to British slave owners as the Government, and most other people, felt it could not deprive people of their “property” without doing so.

8. In the British Empire the Government had to use force to suppress slavery, as the abolition was not popular with native slave-traders in many places.

9. In Jamaica there are some black and mixed-race people who are descended from free people. There was a brief period when the island had been abandoned by the Spanish before the British arrived. Many slaves went into hiding and de facto became free. Their children were therefore never slaves.

10. Slavery still exists in many places. In Britain it is the domain of people-traffickers. In the Middle East it is thought to go on illegally in many countries but is openly practiced in areas controlled by ISIS. The victims are usually members of minorities.

Personally, I wish the campaigners would concentrate on freeing current slaves rather than keeping old wounds alive, given the complexity of the story and the difficulty in apportioning blame or credit.

After studying Economics and Accountancy at Bristol University, John worked in accountancy, audit and insurance in several types of local authority. He is currently self-employed as JHM Risk Management Services, offering risk management and liability claims-handling services to businesses and other organisations, to enable owners and managers to save time and stress as well as money. John is a member of the accountancy body CIPFA, is a Registered Risk Practitioner with ALARM, and is a Specialist Member of the Institute of Risk Managers.

Political Factors to Consider When Doing International Business

Discussing the future safety of the Saudi Kingdom we should look at the political, social and geographical circumstances which constitute this one of the top oil producers in the world.

The Saudi Kingdom was established on the 23 September 1932 and since then it has been governed by the Saudi family who united most of the Arab tribes living in the Arabic Peninsula and defeating Ibn Rashid dynasty thanks to the British support. That is why the country is called the Saudi Arabia or the Saudi Kingdom. Today, the country is governed by the King Salman bin Abdulzziz being also the Custodian of the Two Holly Mosques since 23 January 2015. He is also the head of the Unitary Islamic Absolute Monarchy. He is going to be succeeded by the Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef who is the Minister of Interior and the Second Deputy Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia. There is also the Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman who is also the Minister of Defence and the Second Deputy Prime Minister who can probably also claim the rights to the throne as the prince who has also became the most powerful prince in the region.

The estimate GDP of the country for 2015 is 1,668 trillion USD with the population of 30,770,375 people. In comparison the estimate GDP of China for 2015 is 18,976 trillion USD with the population of 1,376,049,000 people. Comparing those two powerful countries we can say that Saudi Arabia looks like the riches country in the world. At the first glance the wealth of Saudi Arabia seems to guarantee the prosperity of citizens and the security of the country. However the decrease in the oil prices can have a significant influence on destabilizing the country constituted by united tribes thanks to the Saudi family’s political skills and knowledge.

However there are some weaknesses of the political situation in Saudi Arabia. Those flaws are rooted in the global political situation not only on the Arabian Peninsula. Moreover we should remember about the tribal divisions and the decreasing oil prices whereas the country economy is strongly oil-based. Those three factors:

– Local and global political situation
– Oil prices
– Tribal divisions

are likely to push Saudi economy into a big trap finishing with collapse of that kingdom.

Mark Twain said that the lack of money is the root of all evil. That quote can be clearly seen when we discuss the oil crisis and the global politics. The oil crisis is a straight way to deepen the tribal divisions which can result in the collapse of the tribal confederation under the flag of the Saudi Dynasty. Talking about tribes we should note that there are hundreds of tribes and merchant families who are influential and constituting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Since the establishment of Saudi Arabia the most powerful tribes were: the Anayzah, Bani Khalid, Harb, Al Murrah, Mutayr, Qahtan, Shammar, and Utaiba. It should be also remembered that before the establishment of the Saudi Kingodom, clans fought each other and the stronger and the more powerful was always the one to be followed. Those clans found the protection of the Saudi Family being supported by the British and American governments. The creation and the existence of Saudi Arabia is based on the loyalty of the clans to the royal family not to the country. Tribal loyalty and belonging are very deeply rooted in the minds of Arabs living there. Therefore the political influence is determined by the tribal relations and connections. Tribal sheikhs can influence political and business affairs on the local and national arena. Following that thought, the money from oil export has always been the guarantee of the Royal Family stability and strong position among the tribes. Furthermore the leading role of Saudi Arabia in oil exports give the Royal Family the leading position among the governors of the gulf states. However the drastically dropping prices of oil cause the losses in the GDP of Arab States.

The International Monetary Fund estimates that the revenues of Saudi Arabia and its Persian Gulf allies will slip by $300 billion this year. Some sources say that the price of oil should be above 100 USD per barrel to be above the brake even point for the Saudi Government whereas the forecasts predict the prices dropping down to 20 USD per barrel.

Coming economic crisis and major four political opponents:

– Sunny Islam activists
– liberal critics
– Shiite minority
– tribal and regional opponents for instance in Hejaz

threaten the stability of the country. The most dangerous group is constituted by the Islamic Activists responsible for the terrorist attacks in the country.

After the King Salam of Saudi Arabia cessation the rivalry for the throne is going to start. The country being the absolute monarchy doesn`t allow any other social or political forces to influence the country`s national and international policies. Weakened monarchy may leave a space for the tribal and sectarian divisions which can activate and reflect the Libya scenario during the Arab Spring. We should remember that Libya had an absolute dictatorship for 42 years under the regime of the colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who led the coup against the 17th year old monarchy of King Idris. And the Arab Spring caused the collapse of the Gaddafi regime on 23 October 2011.

Saudi Arabia like Libya has the tribal system. There was no revolt in Saudi Arabia for over 80 years. Looking at the history and one of the samples like Libya, the situation in the region can be picturised like a pot full of boiling water, covered with a lid compressing the steam. The open question is how long the royal had is able to hold that lid.

Wadim Procel MA in International Relations. Graduated from the Naval Academy in Gdynia, Poland. Specializing the in the Middle East international affairs. He is also Polish-English-Arabic Interpreter. Currently working on his doctorate studies at the department of National Security at the Naval Academy.