Why is Theresa May welcoming Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman?

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Why is Theresa May welcoming Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman?

Only 6 per cent of Britons support selling arms to Saudi Arabia to bomb and starve Yemenis. So why is he here? Vanessa Baird asks.

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A poll shows that only 6 per cent of UK adults support arms sales to Saudi Arabia, and the Campaign Against the Arms Trade says that 37 per cent oppose the official visit of the Crown Prince.

The British government already has much blood on its hands. The Saudi-led bombing of Yemen uses weapons from the UK.

Airstrikes are hitting schools and hospitals, killing over 10 thousand civilians. They are using illegal weapons such as cluster bombs.

At least 17.8 million people – two thirds of the people – are without enough to eat and more than 8 million are at risk of starvation.

British government statistics show that since the bombing of Yemen began in 2015, the UK has licensed £4.6 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, including:

• £2.7 (US $3.7) billion worth of licenses for aircraft, helicopters, drones, and; • £1.9 (US $2.6) billion worth of licenses for grenades, bombs, and missiles.

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against the Arms Trade said: ‘Most people in the UK do not agree with Theresa May’s political and military support for the Saudi government. There is positive reporting about the Crown Prince, but he is a leader of one of the world’s most authoritarian dictatorships.’

There are positive reports about the decision to allow women to drive, but the treatment of dissidents is terrible. They suffer lashings, imprisonment and there has been a rise in beheadings, say Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

There are protests against the Saudi regime and its UK government supporters in various places, including Downing Street.

Vanessa Baird is co-editor of New Internationalist magazine.