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(CC 2.0) James N. Mattis

Theresa May rolls out the red carpet for Saudi crown prince

United Kingdom
Saudi Arabia
Human Rights
War & Peace

Polling from Populus shows that only 6 per cent of UK adults supports arms sales to Saudi Arabia, and 37 per cent oppose the official visit of the Crown Prince which begins today, according to the Campaign Against the Arms Trade.

The British government already has much blood on its hands. The Saudi-led coalition bombardment of Yemen has involved military hardware supplied by the UK.

Airstrikes are hitting schools and hospitals, killing over 10 thousand civilians. Illegal weapons such as cluster bombs are being used.

At least 17.8 million people – two thirds of the population – are without enough to eat and more than 8 million are at risk of starvation.

British government statistics show that since the bombardment of Yemen began in 2015, the UK has licensed £4.6 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, including:

  • £2.7 (US $3.7) billion worth of licenses for aircraft, helicopters, drones, and;
  • £1.9 (US $2.6) billion worth of licenses for grenades, bombs, missiles, countermeasures.

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against the Arms Trade said: ‘The overwhelming majority of people in the UK do not share Theresa May’s political and military support for the Saudi regime. Despite the spin surrounding the Crown Prince, he is a figurehead for one of the world’s most authoritarian dictatorships.’

While progressive moves to allow women to drive in the kingdom have attracted positive publicity, the treatment of dissidents remains appalling. They are subject to lashings, imprisonment and there has been a rise in beheadings, say Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

Protests against the Saudi regime and its UK government backers are taking place in various locations, including Downing Street, to coincide with the Crown Prince’s visit, which begins today.

Vanessa Baird is co-editor of New Internationalist magazine. The April issue, focusing on the topic of Humanitarianism, includes coverage of the crisis in Yemen.

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