The visit of the Saudi Crown Prince to London, where he will hold talks with British Prime Minister Theresa May on defense and economic cooperation and meet Queen Elizabeth II has been widely advertised across the British capital. The Prince's reception, initially put off due to fears over public protests has brought to light a number of issues surrounding the already deep relationship between London and Riyadh.
Arabnews: Billboards highlighting Saudi Arabia’s ties with the UK appear on London’s streets ahead of MBS visit. https://t.co/4qlZViWr5m— Zweeze🌼 (@Zweezs) March 7, 2018
War in Yemen
Bin Salman was the driving force behind the Saudi military operation against Houthi rebels in Yemen, which began in March 2015, while he was minister of defense. The conflict dramatically escalated when Houthis swept into the Yemeni capital San'a and forced the government of President Abd-Rabbuh Mansour Hadi to flee to Aden and then to Saudi Arabia. British Prime Minister Theresa May has promised to raise the issue of civilian casualties in the war when she and Prince Mohammad discuss enhanced military cooperation. Britain has sold at least US$6.4 billion worth of weaponry to the Kingdom since the beginning of the bombing campaign in 2015. Only 6 percent of the British public approves of UK weapons sales to Saudi Arabia as a result of the war and the humanitarian situation, according to the Campaign Against Arms Trade.
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince visits the UK today against the backdrop of what the UN calls “the world’s worst man-made humanitarian disaster” in Yemen. A UN report also found that the Saudi led coalition continued to be the leading cause of civilian casualties. #SaudiArabia 1/2— Matt Hamill (@Mattph82) March 7, 2018
“The UN says that most of the civilian casualties in Yemen have been caused by the Saudi-led coalition airstrikes. But in its zeal to punish Iran, the US has completely ignored that fact in a draft resolution to the Security Council. https://t.co/kmRnKql1hN— LobeLog (@LobeLog) February 23, 2018
The left-wing newspaper The Guardian running an pro-#Saudi ad that says the crown prince is "empowering Saudi Arabian Women" next to an article by Labour Shadow Foreign Minister criticising his visit to the UK. https://t.co/iI0hUsjlfQ— Nargess Moballeghi (@JournoNargess) March 7, 2018
Of particular interest to the British government has been the privatization of the Saudi state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco, which is set to be publicly listed later this year in what is expected to be the largest public offering of a company in financial history. With an estimated value of US$2 trillion, the location for the listing has yet to be publicly announced although the most commonly floated venues are the New York, London and Hong Kong stock exchanges. Britain is particularly keen to deepen its financial links with the Gulf region as a means to offset any potential declines in trade with the European Union after it leaves the bloc in 2019.
Recent YouGov polling of the British public has consistently shown widespread unease with the closeness of the British relationship to a government they see as having an unusually poor human rights record. 39 percent respondents believe that Britain should treat Saudi Arabia as an enemy state, more than those who agree with treating as an ally. The responses represented a poorer image of the Kingdom held by Britons than those of Turkey, Russia or China. Only 4 percent of respondents described the Kingdom as "good" on human rights issues while 80 percent felt the opposite.
there was a huge amount if noise about protests when President Trump was to visit the UK, i do not hear any noise regarding MBS SAUDI ARABIA THE MOST REPUGNANT KINGDOM, responsible for 911 twin towers global wahhabism terror ISIS crimes against humanity SYRIA & YEMEN more… pic.twitter.com/CaTGtnWPgo— 🌹spirito✨di✨libertà🌹 #FBPB (@lisa_alba) March 6, 2018