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US PRESIDENT Donald Trump upset Theresa May with his assessment that her shabby Brexit deal represents good business for the EU, but the two are conjoined on another issue — Saudi Arabia.
Responsibility for ordering the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is widely attributed to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — but not by Trump and May.
Save the Children is the latest humanitarian NGO to target Riyadh’s military blockade of Yemen as responsible for most of the 85,000 Yemeni children aged under five estimated to have died of hunger and disease since the civil war began in 2015.
The international aid group makes clear that Saudi throttling of relief efforts, especially the ongoing assault on the port of Hodeidah, has caused monthly food imports to fall by 55,000 tons — enough to feed 4.4 million people.
The despotic Saudi royal family rejects calls to suspend its blockade and bombing of civilian areas, claiming to wage war in parallel with distributing its own food aid.
Trump and May are grimly determined to maintain their close ties with Saudi Arabia, including sales of military hardware to the medieval dictatorship that holds sway in Riyadh — and to hell with Yemen’s suffering population, including the children.
The US president is brazen enough to justify his “profits over humanity” stance by parroting his America First mantra, while the Prime Minister is less brash but equally nauseating in asserting that, if Britain didn’t sell arms to Riyadh, other states would.
How will the suffering of the poor and vulnerable across the globe ever be brought to an end if the most economically advanced states put their arms industries’ profits before the need to save children’s lives?
Washington and London also allude to Saudi Arabia’s geopolitical relevance as a counterweight, alongside their ally Israel, to the influence of Iran.
So Yemen’s children must suffer and die because of the demand for dividends by shareholders in companies run by British and US merchants of death, alongside politicians’ insistence on isolating Iran, even to the extent of pursuing sanctions against Tehran in breach of international law.
Iran has complied with international demands made of it over its civilian nuclear programme. It signed up to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and, according to the United Nations, has met all its commitments.
But Trump — working from a might-is-right position — ignores the UN, stepping up sanctions and demanding that subservient US allies toe his line.
But while May and company comply, the US Senate, where Trump’s party enjoys a majority, has developed the makings of a spine, rejecting his administration’s backing for the Saudi war in Yemen.
Republican Bob Corker, who chairs the Senate foreign relations committee, referred to “a [Saudi] crown prince that’s out of control,” while Democratic Senator Bob Menendez said it was time to send Saudi Arabia a message “both on its violation of human rights and the incredible humanitarian catastrophe it’s creating in Yemen.”
Both Republicans and Democrats are no strangers to supporting overseas invasions in the cause of Wall Street profits, but their readiness to unite in a bipartisan motion to clip Trump’s wings can’t be underestimated.
What will it take for members of May’s party to accept that human decency demands a fresh approach to Riyadh’s lawless and inhuman rampage?
Khashoggi cannot be brought back to life any more than tens of thousands of dead Yemeni children, but a belated principled stand — sidelining the obsession with “defence”-sector profits — could help prevent future atrocities.
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