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May should break ties with the blood-soaked Riyadh regime

WHO cares how many Yemeni civilians are slaughtered by the Saudi air force? Selling military hardware to Saudi Arabia is profitable.

Shorn of diplomatic niceties, that is the government’s justification for its close relationship with the medieval dictatorship in Riyadh.

Arms sales underpin the British-Saudi partnership, which is why the top face cards of Britain’s monarchy are wheeled out to welcome the blood-soaked crown prince of the house of Saud.

Mohammed bin Salman has overall responsibility for the Saudi military intervention into Yemen and brooks no questioning of the extensive bombing of civilian targets there.

He denies accusations of trying to starve Yemenis opposed to his plans into submission, although international aid agencies, among others, have testified to the reality of ports being blockaded by Saudi armed forces and their allies.

Theresa May insists she raised “concerns about human rights” in her meeting with Prince Mohammed, although she and fellow apologists for Riyadh are obsessed with the prospect of Saudi women driving cars.

Welcome though that may be, it is surely not the human rights pinnacle to which the Saudi people can aspire.

Women were able to drive cars in Iraq, Libya and Syria, but that did not prevent imperialist military interventions on one or another democracy-linked pretext.

Democracy merits no mention when British and US politicians discuss Saudi Arabia and its allied kingdoms, emirates and sheikhdoms.

All that matters are trade opportunities, especially export of British-made warplanes and other armaments, with government-guaranteed profits for firms engaged in this dirty dealing.

Even if, after years of chatter, the right of a tiny minority of Saudi women to drive cars is finally recognised, it won’t alter the denial of human rights to the kingdom’s Shi’ite minority who are despised as heretics in accordance with state orthodoxy.

It won’t affect the increasing rate of public beheadings for a range of offences after charades of legal proceedings in which torture is ever-present.

Nor will it entail a different “anti-corruption” strategy than that used by Prince Mohammed in detaining dozens of his siblings and other princes in a luxurious lock-up until they agreed to cough up tens of billions of pounds looted from state funds.

Above all, it won’t mean that the Yemeni people will enjoy the human right to life itself. They will still face aerial bombing while British experts advise Saudi pilots on targets in line with British-Saudi military co-operation.

May recalls that the UN security council originally backed Saudi intervention to restore President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi to office after being overthrown by Houthi rebels, but the situation has changed substantially and it is widely understood that there can be no solution that ignores a role for the Houthis.

Our Prime Minister cannot whitewash solid evidence of war crimes by crediting co-operation with Saudi intelligence services for saving British lives.

Riyadh’s ongoing sponsorship of Salafist groups in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria and elsewhere poses a live terrorist threat in numerous countries, which cannot be wished away as an inconvenient spin-off from her insistence on supplying state-of-the-art war materiel to the Saudi armed forces.

Middle East Minister Alistair Burt insists that the government is doing all it can to deal with the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, but this is meaningless as long as it stokes up Saudi capacity to maintain its onslaught against Yemen.

May should tell Prince Mohammed that this collaboration ends now and that he should order an immediate halt to the bombing campaigning in Yemen.


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