Britons want UK to release report on Saudi funding of extremism

Britons urge the government of Prime Minister Theresa May to release a report about Saudi Arabia’s funding of extremists operating in the UK, and to stop selling arms to the kingdom. 

An exclusive poll for The Independent showed Sunday that an overwhelming majority of the public believe it is wrong for Britain to provide the Saudis with billions of pounds worth of weapons being used against innocent civilians in Yemen.

The poll by BMG Research has found that only 18 percent of people support those sales “while the Middle Eastern state is engaged in Yemen’s civil war” – while 58 percent are against it.

“Instead of giving the Saudis a stern talking to, ministers are flogging them arms,” Tom Brake, a Liberal Democrat frontbench MP, said.

“They are desperate for shady Middle Eastern trade deals because they are hell-bent on taking us out of the world’s most lucrative single market, in Europe, with nations who share our values.”

Picture shows the site of an air raid on a funeral reception in Arhab district, north of Yemen’s capital of Sana’a, on February 16, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Saudi Arabia has been incessantly pounding Yemen since March 2015 in an attempt to reinstate former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh, and to undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement. The Riyadh regime has, however, failed to reach its goals.

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Last week, the UK High Court issued a ruling, saying that the government was not breaking the law by continuing to sell arms to Saudi Arabia.

Apart from selling arms to the Saudi kingdom, the UK government has refused to release its report on Saudi and other foreign funding for extremism in Britain.

The new study now shows that most people want the government to release the report, even if it damages diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Sixty-four percent want the report to be made “publicly available in full,” while only 11 percent back its suppression.

Police forensics officers work on London Bridge in London on June 4, 2017, as investigations continue following the terror attack on the bridge and at the nearby Borough Market on June 3. (Photo by AFP)

“Liberal Democrats forced the Conservatives to commission a report into Saudi funding of extremism, so where is the full report? Brake asked.

“It is totally hypocritical of ministers to condemn terrorism if they won’t also tackle the causes of terrorism. The public sees that, but scandalously the Conservatives don’t want to offend the world’s largest funder of” extremism.

This comes after the British government published a brief summary of a Home Office-commissioned report into the funding of extremism in the country, but announced that it would not publish in full the report on the sources of funding of extremism and terrorism in the UK, citing security reasons.

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