Thank you to those who have written to me about the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia.
I believe that the UK Government takes seriously its legal obligations as regards to the licensing of arms for export to Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, and the UK has one of the most rigorous licensing regimes in the world. It is important to note this is in an era when nations with very much lower human rights standards are profiting at the expense of those such as the UK.
However, I am concerned about Saudi actions in Yemen, as there is a considerable amount of evidence that Saudi bombing has killed civilians in disturbing numbers.
I would very much like to see greater dialogue with the Saudi Government on this issue, but also dialogue with those elements of the Saudi Armed Forces who have been responsible for their Government’s operations, and specifically its targeting in the Yemen campaign. The United States is also a key partner here. Since Saudi Arabia is a key ally, and that our response will be shaped by that reality, more engagement rather than less may be the answer.
Saudi Arabia has stated that it is investigating reports of alleged violations of International Humanitarian Law. I support this although I do wonder what it may achieve. Finally, finding a political solution to the conflict in Yemen is the best way to bring long-term stability and peace talks are a top priority.
I would also like to see the UK do more to understand those groups in the east of Yemen, such as the Mahra tribes, and to find ways of working with tribal leaders from the Mahra to support them in their struggle against Al Qaeda and to provide stability for their people.