Banning Saudi Arabia from Labour conference hints at Corbyn’s likely tough stance as PM
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to bar Saudi Arabia from his party’s annual conference next week suggests he would not be afraid to cut military and diplomatic ties with the Gulf kingdom over its war on Yemen if he becomes prime minister.
A Labour spokesperson told the Huffington Post on Monday: “Following evidence of war crimes committed by Saudi Arabia in its bombing campaign in Yemen and other large scale human rights abuses, the NEC [National Executive Committee] agreed that the embassy’s application to attend the Labour Party conference would not be accepted.”
Labour also barred Sudan from the conference, which begins next Sunday in Brighton.
In response, the London office of the League of Arab States wrote to Labour MPs and peers to tell them a reception and dinner hosted by Arab ambassadors would be canceled.
“Unfortunately, the council of Arab Ambassadors has taken the decision to cancel its annual reception and buffet dinner,” the letter read.
“Our council has decided to refrain from attending the Labour Party conference this year due to rejection of both the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Sudan’s application to attend the conference.”
Corbyn’s stand comes in sharp contrast with that of Theresa May’s government. The Tories have failed to criticize the Saudi government for potential war crimes, and has sold its military £3.6 billion (S4.87 billion) in weaponry that may have been used in its campaign in Yemen.
The Tories have consistently defended the UK’s lucrative arms sales to Saudi Arabia. The Gulf state was recently given the red carpet treatment at the world’s largest arms fair in London.
Dr. Liam Fox, the Secretary of State for International Trade, was at the DSEI arms fair when Channel 4 pressed him on how many civilian deaths it would take before the UK revoked the license to sell arms.
A Saudi-led coalition has waged a devastating air campaign in Yemen since 2015 to support the government in its war against Houthi rebels.
The fighting has killed more than 10,000 people and fomented famine and a cholera epidemic.
The UN has called Yemen the world’s greatest humanitarian disaster.
Corbyn has been critical of Saudi Arabia’s actions in Yemen and called for the British government to stop selling it weapons.
“We are selling arms to Saudi Arabia… and at the same time we are sending aid in. We should not be doing both.”
He told the BBC it is important there is a “political process to bring about a ceasefire” in Yemen.