Saudi Arabia defends 'just' Yemen war ahead of crown prince trip to UK

Saudi Arabia defends 'just' Yemen war ahead of crown prince trip to UK
Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister has claimed the the country's devastating war in Yemen in morally right, as Mohammed bin Salman faces criticism as he visits the UK.
3 min read
06 March, 2018
More than 9,200 people have been killed in the Yemen war since 2015 [Getty]
Saudi Arabia has defended its "just" war in Yemen, as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman prepares for a controversial visit to the UK that will likely see protests in London.

Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir has attempted to temper some of the anger in the UK over Riyadh's devastating military campaign in Yemen on the eve of the crown prince's maiden European visit.

"They criticise us for a war in Yemen that we did not want, that was imposed on us," Jubeir told BBC Radio 4

"They criticise us for a war in Yemen that is a just war, that is supported by international law," he added. 

Huge rallies are expected outside Prime Minister Theresa May's Downing Street residence at 5pm Wednesday to denounce the war in the Arab world's poorest country and the UK's support for Riyadh. 

NGO Save the Children will also protest the conflict by placing a life-size statue of a child near parliament "to draw attention to the violence that is being fuelled, in part, by British-made bombs".

Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen has killed or injured 5,000 children with around 400,000 more seriously malnourished.

The UK has provided arms to Saudi Arabia during the war - which began in March 2015 - which has brought criticism from human rights groups and the UN.

London is said to be keen to court Riyadh as it launches its ambitious Vision 2030 economic plan, which includes the sale of around five percent of Saudi state-owned oil giant Aramco.

"Vision 2030" plan to diversify its oil-reliant economy, Jubeir said that Britain would be a major beneficiary. 

"After Brexit, there will be huge opportunities for Britain as a result of Vision 2030," he told the BBC

The Saudi Crown Prince is expected in London on Wednesday following his visit to Egypt earlier this week, and before a trip to the United States from March 19 to 22.

More than 9,200 people have been killed in the Yemen war since 2015, when the Saudi-led coalition joined the government's fight against the Houthi rebels.

More than eight million people are at risk of famine as port blockades, cholera and diphtheria bring the Arab world's most impoverished country to its knees.

The leader of Britain's main opposition party has called on the Prime Minister to halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia ahead of a visit by the kingdom's powerful crown prince.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on Tuesday said Theresa May should use Mohammed bin Salman's visit to take a tough stance on the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen.

"May should use this visit to announce the UK will no longer supply arms to Saudi Arabia while the devastating Saudi-led bombing of Yemen continues," Corbyn told The New Arab in an e-mailed statement.