UK to sell 48 fighter jets to Saudi Arabia

Monday 12th March 2018 | Jake

BAE Systems, the biggest arms manufacturer in the UK, is nearing the sale of 48 Typhoon fighter jets to Saudi Arabia. The Saudi crown prince had been in London, and after receiving the VIP treatment has agreed to purchase the jets, the deal was announced on the final day of his visit.

It is the latest development in a controversial relationship, one which is likely to intensify post-Brexit. The announcement followed the revelation that the government has signed a £100m aid agreement with the Gulf state to deliver essential infrastructure to “drought and conflict-stricken” countries.

Many were quick to point out the irony of Saudi Arabia signing this aid agreement considering they’re destroying essential infrastructures, such as schools and hospitals, in the conflict-stricken country of Yemen. Saudi Arabia is fighting on the side of the government against the Houthi rebels that sparked the civil war when they took control of the capital city, Sana’a, in 2014.

Devastation in Yemen

There is also widespread concern that the Typhoon fighter jets Saudi Arabia has agreed to buy from the UK will be used on the desperate Yemeni civilians mired in a civil war. Saudi Arabia waged into the war in 2015 and has been accused of systematically starving the civilian population by cutting off aid supplies. 8.4 million people are threatened by famine in the war-torn state.

The UK has sold a reported £4.6bn worth of arms to Saudi Arabia since their involvement in the Yemen war, with the latest deal indicating that figure will continue to rise. The government defended the lavish welcome it afforded the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, by announcing trade deals worth £65bn were agreed upon.

It is unclear whether Theresa May pressed bin Salman to stop the starvation tactics and reckless bombing Saudi Arabia uses against the Yemeni population, although it looks very unlikely.