UK Cozies Up to Saudi Arabia Despite War Crimes

UK Cozies Up to Saudi Arabia Despite War CrimesUK Cozies Up to Saudi Arabia Despite War Crimes

The UK enjoys a “cozy relationship” with Saudi Arabia that is incompatible with the human rights values they espouse, human rights activist Peter Tatchell told Radio Sputnik.

Last week, British police began examining allegations of war crimes committed by Saudi Arabia in Yemen to assess whether criminal charges could be brought over Riyadh’s devastating bombing campaign.

“The Metropolitan Police’s SO15 counter-terrorism unit, which has traditionally focused on investigating Nazi war criminals during World War Two, turned its attention to Saudi Arabia after learning of allegations about war crimes,” Peter Tatchell, human rights activist and author of a petition to halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia, told Radio Sputnik.

“A request was made to investigate the allegation that Major-General Ahmed Al-Aziri of Saudi Arabia was directly responsible for some of the Saudi alleged war crimes in Yemen,” he explained.

“These include the indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas and the use of illegal cluster weapons. So, on the face of it, on prima facie evidence, Saudi Arabia does appear to have committed war crimes and it’s quite correct and proper that the Metropolitan Police investigate this since it has been drawn to their attention.”

If the police decide to open an investigation, they would seek to establish the chain of command that carried out airstrikes on civilians in Yemen and find out who authorized the attacks.

“Then they would go back even further to find out, was this person authorized by the Saudi Arabian defense minister. And they could establish some chain of command, some documentation and evidence that these different three degrees of instrumentation and collaboration were instrumental in that war crime happening, then in theory they could issue international arrest warrants against all three,” Tatchell said.

The Metropolitan Police confirmed the SO15 counter-terrorism is conducting a “scoping exercise” regarding the allegations, just days before UK Prime Minister Theresa May began a three-day visit to Middle Eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia, to strengthen trade and security ties.

The kingdom is the UK’s largest trading partner in the Middle East and biggest arms customer. Between April 2015 and March 2016, after Saudi Arabia launched its bombing campaign in Yemen, the British government approved $4.1 billion in weapons exports to Saudi Arabia.

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