Britain to offer Jordan more trainers in anti-IS strikes

Cheryl Sanders
April 5, 2017

Saudi Arabia and its mostly Gulf Arab allies have launched thousands of air strikes in Yemen as part of efforts to restore the internationally-recognised government to power in its war against Houthi rebels.

Ahead of her visit to Saudi Arabia this afternoon, Theresa May has said she hopes to send a message about women in leadership and act as an example for the role of women in a society where women are still banned from driving, must limit their interactions with men to whom they're not related and must obtain permission from a male guardian to travel.

May was expected to explore ways of boosting trade ties with the kingdom during her two-day visit, her second to a Gulf Arab state since Britain chose to leave the EU.

May must try to strengthen her hand in talks with the European Union without annoying its leaders and secure trade deals elsewhere in case the talks fail and Britain crashes out of the bloc without an agreement.

"Unless the Prime Minister challenges the Saudi regime over its abuses this week, it will be clear she is ready to sacrifice human rights and security on the altar of the arms trade".

Saudi Arabia is also looking at boosting its foreign investments as part of a long-term plan known as "Vision 2030" to diversify its economy and reduce its dependence on oil revenues.

The leader of Britain's main opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, said May must put human rights and global law at the centre of her talks with the Saudis.

"And yes, we will be raising the humanitarian issue".

The Prime Minister arrives in Riyadh today, following criticism of British arms deals supporting the Saudi-led coalition in neighbouring Yemen, where the conflict has killed or injured 49,000 people.

But the kingdom remains determined to prevail in the war next door, where at least 10,000 people have been killed according to United Nations figures, and a year ago exempted active soldiers from cuts to annual leave and bonuses.

Seven million Yemenis now face starvation, the United Nations says.

"Numerous human rights organisations, including the UNHRC and Amnesty International, have documented the dictatorial Saudi monarchy's shocking human rights record".

An anti-war activist last week attempted a citizen's arrest of Assiri, before another threw an egg that hit the spokesman in the back.

Asked by British reporters if she would bring up humanitarian and rights questions in Riyadh, May told Sky News: "We have no difficulty in raising hard issues with those that we meet, be it in Saudi Arabia or elsewhere in the world".

"I hope also that people see me as a woman leader, will see what women can achieve and how women can be in significant positions", May told the BBC.

May has made a point of meeting with Reema bint Bandar Al Saud, a princess of the House of Saud and one of the few women to hold public office in the country.

Other reports by iNewsToday