Alwaght- Most Britons believe their government must end weapons sales to Saudi Arabia while the west-backed regime is accused of the large-scale slaughter of civilians in its brutal aggression on Yemen, a poll has revealed.
According to an exclusive opinion poll carried out for The Independent newspaper, an overwhelming majority of Britons believes it is wrong for their country to supply billions of pounds of weapons to the oil-rich kingdom.
Most people also want the Government of Theresa May to release a suppressed report into Saudi Arabia’s funding of extremism in Britain, even if it damages relations with the key ally.
The results lay bare the public’s deep unease about Britain’s close relationship with an autocracy embroiled in a devastating war on neighboring Yemen.
Saudis bombing Yemeni hospitals, schools
The Saudi-led coalition has been accused by the UN and other observers of bombing hospitals, schools and wedding parties, as it seeks to defeat the popular Ansarullah movement.
The United Nations has declared the situation in Yemen a “humanitarian catastrophe,” with sanitation systems destroyed and at least 300,000 people infected with cholera.
The opposition to arms sales appears to extend into the Government, with key Tories thought to be arguing privately for weapons sales to be curbed.
Since the start of the brutal Saudi-led aggression on Yemen in March 2015, the UK has licensed £3.3bn worth of arms, including £1.1bn worth of ML4 licenses, which relate to bombs, missiles, and other explosives.
Late March, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said more than 13,000 civilians have been killed since the start of aggression on Yemen.
Now the poll, by BMG Research, has found only 18 per cent of people support those sales and 58 per cent are against it.
Tom Brake, a Liberal Democrat frontbench MP, said “This just shows how fast the Conservatives are moving away from public opinion.
“Instead of giving the Saudis a stern talking to, ministers are flogging them arms.
“They are desperate for shady Middle Eastern trade deals because they are hell-bent on taking us out of the world’s most lucrative single market, in Europe, with nations who share our values.”
Last week, the High Court ruled the Government is not breaking the law by continuing to sign off the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia.
However, the ruling appeared to be based on a narrow legal point about whether ministers had followed proper procedures and acted rationally in assessing the risks
Judges say Saudis committed serious breaches in Yemen
The judges concluded that there was “a substantial body of evidence suggesting that the [Saudi-led] coalition committed serious breaches of international humanitarian law in the course of its engagement in the Yemen conflict”.
Activists from Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) had brought a legal challenge against the department in charge of arms control and will now appeal.
A day later the Home Secretary announced the Government will not release its report into Saudi Arabian and other foreign funding for extremism in Britain.
Amber Rudd said the report, commissioned by former Prime Minister David Cameron, must be held back on “national security” grounds.
Britons want report on Saudi funding for extremism publicized
But The Independent poll finds that 64 per cent of the public wants the report to be made “publicly available in full”, with only 11 per cent backing its suppression.
Brake added: “Liberal Democrats forced the Conservatives to commission a report into Saudi funding of extremism, so where is the full report?
“It is totally hypocritical of ministers to condemn terrorism if they won’t also tackle the causes of terrorism. The public sees that, but scandalously the Conservatives don’t want to offend the world’s largest funder of Islamic fundamentalism.”
Saudis regime, foremost sponsor of terrorism
Another report, has described Saudi Arabia as the "foremost" financier of terrorism and extremism in Britain.
A report published by the Henry Jackson Society links several Saudi charities and organizations to a growth in the number of British citizens becoming radicalized and leaving the country to fight for the ISIS Takfiri terrorist group in Iraq and Syria.
The report noted that the form of education advanced by such organizations promotes a hardline Wahhabi ideology endorsed by the Saudi monarchy.