Robert Fisk

Sunny Side of Saddam

A Brutal Friendship: The West and the Arab Elite

By

Gollancz 320pp £20 order from our bookshop

This is a very odd book to review. Over and over again, I found myself agreeing with almost every word Said Aburish has written – about the wilful political blindness of the West towards the Arab world, the corrupt nature of Arab regimes, the hypocrisy of American power in the Middle East, the nature of Jewish as well as Islamic ‘fundamentalism’, the impending catastrophe in the region to which all but those who live there appear blind. Nor does Aburish indulge in obfuscation. Here he is, for example, on the West’s best friend in the Gulf:

Saudi Arabia’s internal structure is disintegrating and its Arab and Islamic policies are a failure. Disorder is on the way. The days of cheque-book diplomacy are over. The Saudi people are demanding their rights. Fahd has no option except to deepen his dependence on the West. And the West, still pursuing short-term gains, foolishly guarantees the House of Saud against internal and external threats…

All well and good. Yet I also found this an intensely boring book. There is a flatness to Aburish’s writing that places a heavy burden on the reader, not least because of its doubtful grammar.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • From the Archive: Martyn Bedford on Ian McEwan's 'Atonement' ,
    • In 'Silenced Voices' reports the ongoing story of the human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, who has been… ,
    • The mystery of Jack the Ripper's identity has long been agonised over. But what do we know about his victims?… ,
    • A piece of Literary Review history from way back in 1983: John Haffenden talks to the great Iris Murdoch. ,
    • Britain’s only travelling lit fest, the Garden Museum Literary Festival is heading to Houghton Hall, Norfolk, for a… ,
    • 'The 19th-century German sage is not my idea of a pleasant travel companion' goes hiking with Friedr… ,
    • If you want ideas about what to read next, sign up to our free email newsletter, and get book reviews, archive mate… ,