The Swedish Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven is visiting Saudi Arabia over the weekend with a couple of business leaders to try and recover some of ground lost by Swedish businesses in Saudi Arabia. Needless to say, the Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström does not seem to be accompanying him.
She, of course, was the one who soured relations with Saudi Arabia to such an extent that Swedish industry is not happy. There are many stories of business opportunities lost because of Wallströms “holier than thou” diplomacy. It was in early 2015 that Margot Wallström and the left green coalition made a great display of their moral superiority and caused some diplomatic consternation. They called Saudi Arabia nasty, very undiplomatic names (all true but not how a Foreign Minister is expected to behave), saw to it that a defence agreement was cancelled and recognised Palestine. The Saudis recalled their Ambassador, banned Margot Wallström from giving a speech to the Arab League, denied visas to Swedes and made life difficult for Swedish firms doing business in Saudi Arabia. Eventually the King of Sweden sent a letter carried by Björn von Sydow to Saudi in March 2015 apologising for Wallström and managed – monarch to monarch – to cool down some of the Saudi anger.
But the Greens and the left of the Social Democrats forgot that they were actually in government and were not just an irresponsible lobby group like Greenpeace or the WWF indulging in publicity pranks. They were so mesmerised by the idea of showing off their moral credentials that the intention to terminate the defense agreement was announced in a great blaze of self-righteous publicity. The Prime Minister Stefan Löfven (an old trade unionist with a good understanding of the importance of jobs) actually wanted to extend the agreement. But he was over-ruled by his far left and the Greens. His Foreign Minister, Margot Wallström (who, unlike the Greens, is old enough to know better), was more obsessed with demonstrating how Swedish foreign policy was feminist and green and occupied the moral high ground than in promoting Swedish interests and values. And so she forgot about her duties as a Foreign Minister and sharply criticised Saudi Arabia in most undiplomatic language. It verges on incompetence that the consequences of her statements were not analysed.
On this trip Löfven will be accompanied by Marcus Wallenberg of Investor, and Maria Rankka from the Swedish Chamber of Commerce.
I don’t expect that Löfven will bring up the funding emanating from Saudi sources for IS in particular or for Sunni extremists in other places.