Truth NGO – British sources told Arabi21 that the trip of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) to Britain was postponed as activists in the UK had called on British Prime Minister Theresa May to withdraw the invitation to the King’s son.
The Crown Prince was set to meet senior royals on a visit to London in February, but the source, who asked not to be identified, told Arab21 that this visit was postponed to an unspecified time, without clarifing more details.
Groups including the Stop the War coalition, the Campaign Against Arms Trade, and the Arab Human Rights Organisation, published an open letter late January, accusing the heir to the Saudi throne of overseeing the war on Yemen and deepening a humanitarian crisis in the war-torn country.
“[Mohammed bin Salman] is the second most senior member of the Saudi regime, which has one of the worst human rights records in the world,” the statement read.
“Torture, arbitrary detention, and other appalling abuses are widely documented,” it added.
UK-based NGO Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) in late December asked the Prime Minister and other British politicians to end their political and military support for Saudi Arabia regime, as Riyadh’s air campaign against its neighbor has so far killed thousands of Yemenis.
CAAT had also reported early November that Britain’s export of bombs and missiles to Saudi Arabia has increased by nearly 500 percent since the start of the kingdom’s deadly aggression on Yemen.
Despite the humanitarian crisis, the UK government has continued to arm and support Riyadh. Since the ongoing bombardment began in 2015, British arms companies are some of the biggest suppliers of weapons to Saudi Arabia, and London has approved billions of pounds in export licenses over the past three years.
Saudi Arabia has been striking Yemen since March 2015 to restore power to fugitive President Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh. The Saudi-led aggression has so far killed at least 15,500 Yemenis, including hundreds of women and children. Despite Riyadh’s claims that it is bombing the positions of the Ansarullah fighters, Saudi bombers are flattening residential areas and civilian infrastructures.
A UN panel has compiled a detailed report of civilian casualties caused by the Saudi military and its allies during their war against Yemen, saying the Riyadh-led coalition has used precision-guided munitions in its raids on civilian targets.
The United Nations reported in mid-January, more than three-quarters of Yemenis are now in need of humanitarian aid as the brutal aggression launched by the Saudi-led coalition nears its fourth year.
Saudi Arabia is also organizing bin Salman’s first US visit since he became the Crown Prince last year, multiple sources with knowledge of the plan told Al-Monitor.
In his first overseas trip as President, Donald Trump sealed an arms deal with Saudi Arabia worth $350 billion over 10 years, with nearly $110 billion to take effect immediately. In the last month of his term in office, former President Barack Obama halted the sale of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia over concerns that the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) was targeting civilians in Yemen.