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Jeremy Corbyn Salman Saudi Arabia

Jeremy Corbyn does what Theresa May has been too scared to do: stand up to Saudi Arabia. 

The Labour leadership have rejected both Saudi Arabia and Sudan’s application to attend the Labour Party conference in Brighton – scheduled for 24th – 27th September – in response to alleged war crimes committed during the Saudi-led bombardment in Yemen.

A Labour spokesperson said

Following evidence of war crimes committed by Saudi Arabia in its bombing campaign in Yemen and other large scale human rights abuses, the NEC agreed that the embassy’s application to attend the Labour Party conference would not be accepted.

In response to Labour’s decision, the Arab League – a regional organisation of Arab countries in and around North Africa, the Horn of Africa and Arabia – announced that they are boycotting the conference: 

Corbyn, a vociferous critic of Saudi Arabia’s actions in Yemen, has previously spoken to the BBC suggesting that the UK should no longer sell arms to Saudi Arabia:

We are selling arms to Saudi Arabia… and at the same time we are sending aid in, we should not be doing both

Saudi Arabia were also recently given the red carpet treatment by the Tories at the world’s largest arms fair in London. Since the conflict in Yemen began in 2015, the UK government has sold £3.6 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia.  

Dr Liam Fox MP, the Secretary of State for International Trade, was at the arms fair when Channel 4 pressed him on how many civilian deaths it would take before the UK revoked a licence to sell arms, further highlighting the Government’s hypocrisy on the matter – the Government currently sends around £139 million in aid to Yemen.

Fox attempted to defend the UK’s weapons exports, saying:

There are robust safety measures to allow ethical defences exports to flourish, protected by a licensing system to ensure exports are rational and lawful and which guarantees that we do not in the process violate international law, create tensions, promote terrorism or endanger global security

A recent High Court ruling underlined the legality of UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia, despite the civilian death toll in Yemen reaching more than 10,000

Yemen has been decimated by the Saudi-led military intervention. UK-made bombs, sold to Saudi Arabia, are alleged to have been involved in some of at least 81 ‘unlawful’ attacks.

The suffering of the Yemeni people has been exacerbated by incessant Saudi bombing and blockading of key ports, which has prevented vital medicine, food and other vital supplies entering the country. Saudi Arabia has also been accused by the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) of obstructing deliveries of fuel for UN planes, which are bringing some of the only aid into Yemen.

The Conservatives cannot continue to plead ignorance on the matter. It’s an international disgrace that the bombing, and targeting of Yemeni civilians has reached to the extent that it has.

10,000 civilians have already died, and the number is rising on a daily basis. Saudi Arabia is being allowed to buy our silence for an annual £3.6 billion fee.

Labour leader Corbyn, not for the first time, will be on the right side of history once again. 

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