Theresa May’s continued relations with Saudi Arabia, are a stain on our country’s history. The Conservative government continues to sell arms to the dictatorship, which has one of the worst human rights records in the World. Arms sold to the Saudi government have exceeded a total value of £2.8bn since 2015, including; aircraft, assault rifles, anti-aircraft cannons, and over £1bn of bombs and missiles.
The sale of military equipment to dictatorships like Saudi Arabia is only illegal if there is a ‘clear risk’ that the equipment could be used to break international humanitarian law. A court ruling last month, judged weapon sales to Saudi Arabia are legal, however most of the evidence was reviewed in secret.
The court ruling, and the continued sales of weapons to Saudi Arabia have come under sustained pressure, from a wide range of NGOs; the United Nations (UN), European parliament, and Amnesty International, as damning evidence continues to pour in against the Saudi government.
Key evidence that proves Saudi Arabia uses British-manufactured weapons to commit human rights abuses come from the continue war against Yemen. The Yemen war began in 2015, a year where UK arms exports to Saudi Arabia skyrocketed, as the Houthi rebels overthrew the Saudi-backed government. So far, the war has claimed over 10,000 lives, and has created one of the World’s worst famines. Yemen’s food crisis has left a total of 6.8 million people in a dire state of emergency, and has put large populations at high risk of diseases such as cholera. Unfortunately, billions worth of food & water aid can’t reach people in need, largely due to the Saudi government & rebels on the ground interfering.
The Saudi government continues to flaunt human rights law, by repeatedly bombing civilians. A notable case was a funeral, where the Saudi government bombed and killed over 140 people, the majority who were said to be innocent civilians. The bombing of hospitals, and medical facilities has killed countless civilians, knocking-out almost half of Yemen’s healthcare system, leaving the country susceptible to widespread disease, often associated with famine. Overall it is predicted that the Saudi government has performed over 80 airstrikes, on civilian areas and infrastructure, something Theresa May is willing to overlook, if it increases arms sales.
Previous Secretary General to the UN Ban Ki-moon had briefly placed Saudi Arabia on the blacklist, for bombing several schools and hospitals, where dozens of children are thought to be killed. Later however Saudi Arabia was removed from the list, some suspect through their growing influence within the UN. In 2015, it was revealed that the Conservative government and Saudi Arabia had ‘secret’ meetings to ensure the Saudi government would be elected to the human rights council. Specifically, the Saudi government was propelled to the women’s rights commission, tasked with empowerment of women and gender equality. Potentially, a shady backdoor deal, that makes a mockery of the position, with women in the country unable to live their daily lives without a male chaperone to guide them.
Aside from the horrific Yemen war, Saudi Arabia has been constantly accused of sponsoring terrorism in the Middle East. Foreign affairs analyst Mr Marshall has explained how Saudi Arabia has funded hate preachers, that have been flooded into countries such as Pakistan, with the role to incite hate against opposing Muslim groups. The hatred incited has led to terrorist attacks leaving hundreds of dead. Against the West, Saudi-backed ISIS have performed numerous terrorist attacks, because we will not submit to their values. The most direct evidence that Saudi Arabia has provided and facilitated financial backing for ISIS comes from the leaked emails from Hillary Clinton’s office, dating 2009-2013 when she was Secretary of State. The details that can be found on Wikileaks, and published by Channel4’s ‘FactCheck’ states:
“Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide,”
“More needs to be done since Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaeda, the Taliban, LeT, and other terrorist groups, including Hamas, which probably raise millions of dollars annually from Saudi sources.”
In a separate but recorded speech to the Jewish United Fund Advance & Major Gifts Dinner in 2013, Hillary Clinton admitted Saudi Arabia was shipping weapons indiscriminately to terrorist groups.
These comments confirm previous international suspicions that Saudi Arabia had helped fuel and fund the growth of ISIS in the Middle East.
A UK report on the sponsors of terrorism was suppressed by Theresa May, and was released last month, after the snap general election. The UK-based report highlights Saudi Arabia as the largest sponsor of terrorism, namely for spending an estimated $4bn in exporting the terror-linked Wahhabism version of Islam. Worryingly the report highlights a dramatic increase in the number of mosques, Islamic schools, and preachers being directly sponsored by Saudi Arabia, here in the UK. British Muslim leaders involved in such schemes are taught a strict version of the religion in Saudi Arabia, and funded to spread the strain of ideology here in the UK.
The Saudi government has worked to spread a hateful ideology around the globe, inciting war and terrorism. Worryingly, Theresa May has allowed Saudi money to spread the same ideology here in the UK. With a range of well-respected international bodies reporting the targeting of civilians through; funerals, hospitals, and schools – it is time the UK government condemns Saudi actions, and refuses further arms sales.