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British defence secretary: ‘Saudi Arabia is defending itself’

May 11, 2017 at 11:42 am

British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has said Saudi Arabia is “defending itself” from Houthi rebels who are attacking the country’s southern border.

Speaking on the Today Programme, Fallon responded to a question about whether the Conservative party would consider stopping arms exports to Saudi, saying: “Saudi Arabia is being attacked by Houthi rebels across its southern border with Yemen. It’s had its towns and villages shelled by the Houthis.”

Saudi Arabia is fully entitled to defend itself and it’s fully entitled to call on its friends in so doing.

Despite allegations of war crimes being committed by the Saudi military in its Yemen campaign, Fallon refused to criticise the country, saying it was an “enormously important trading partner” to the UK.

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Fallon was also quizzed on comments made by the British Foreign Secretary, last December, when Boris Johnson accused Saudi Arabia of “puppeteering and playing proxy wars”. Fallon argued that Britain “gains” from the relationship with Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia is a key partner of ours — an enormously important trading partner, a commercial partner, but also a defence partner.

“We share intelligence with Saudi Arabia about terrorism. We gain from that relationship. Every arms export application is very carefully looked at and judged by our criteria — some of the toughest in the world. But Saudi Arabia, equally, is entitled to defend itself,” he added.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May (L) meets with Defence Minister of Saudi Arabia
Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud (R) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on April 5, 2017. ( Bandar Algaloud / Saudi Kingdom Council / Handout – Anadolu Agency )