'National disgrace': UK MPs slam 'hypocritical' £100m Saudi aid deal
Labour MP Kate Osamor penned a harshly-worded piece in Politics Home on Wednesday in which she condemned the UK's open-armed welcome to bin Salman, whom she describes as "the architect of Saudi Arabia’s disastrous war in Yemen".
Osamor lambasts Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May for "actively supporting" heinous atrocities committed by Saudi Arabia in Yemen by willingly and hypocritically signing multi-billion pound business deals - including weapons and fighter jets - while simultaneously backing aid plans to assist Yemenis affected by the very weapons it manufactured and supplied.
"For the Government and for Saudi Arabia, this visit is about sealing grubby business deals and about salvaging reputations," said Osamor in Politics Home.
"In fact, the two governments are reported to be likely to sign deals on behalf of private business worth $100bn. We should be outraged that the UK is putting business deals ahead of the lives of millions of people in Yemen, and turning a blind eye to humanitarian disaster and to human rights.
|It makes a mockery too of our country’s important commitment to international development: we will have sent almost £200m in taxpayer-funded aid to Yemen in the last year, even as British-made bombs continue to rain down|
Osamor further denounced the relationship between the two countries on Friday after they signed an aid agreement worth £100 million, purportedly a joint humanitarian effort to build infrastructure in drought and conflict-stricken countries, including Yemen.
A Saudi-led coalition has ben conducting relentless bombing campaigns against its poverty-stricken neighbour and imposed a naval blockade on its ports that is the driving force between a devastating famine and spread of disease.
"Theresa May implied she would lobby Mohammed bin Salman to stop bombing civilians and end the use of starvation as a weapon of war," Osamor told The Guardian.
"Over 22 million Yemeni lives depend on permanent, full access for aid, food and fuel in Yemen. Instead, she has won no concessions and simply handed on a plate to Saudi Arabia a new humanitarian partnership and an endorsement from DfID [the Department for International Development], the world’s best aid agency.
"It will whitewash Saudi Arabia's reputation and role in the war, and it is a national disgrace," she added.
The UK government has seemingly made a spectacular U-turn since its feeble promises last week to raise "deep concerns" with the Saudi leader during his visit over its blood-soaked offensive in Yemen – which has killed more than 9,300 people and wounded more than 50,000 – after British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson said that the UK supports Saudi's "self-defence" against Yemen.
Ongoing protests have been staged in London for the duration of bin Salman's visit. Outside Downing Street on Wednesday, hundreds of demonstrators rallied together chanting "bin Salman is a war criminal," while holding up placards saying: "Hands off Yemen" and "Stop Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia and UAE".