Britain is increasing the likelihood of a terrorist attack on UK soil if the Government does not rethink its “confused” policy in Yemen, a former International Development Secretary has warned.
Andrew Mitchell, speaking on his return from Yemen, said Britain’s support for the Saudi Coalition “will stoke a further generation of terror” and lead to “threats to Europe.”
Mr Mitchell, who is the only British politician who has visited the country for two years, said the Government’s policy of selling arms to the Saudi led coalition, while at the same time providing millions of pounds in aid, was “contradictory and inconsistent.”
He told the Telegraph that the UK was in danger of becoming “complicit in the destruction of a sovereign state” and warned that young people in Yemen were at risk of becoming “radicalised” against Britain.
The war in Yemen has killed upwards of 10,000 people, many from air strikes, with human rights and aid groups saying hospitals, markets and other civilian targets have been hit.
Britain sells arms to Saudi Arabia, gives it military advice, and provides diplomatic support for the Saudi-led forces fighting the Houthi rebels who rose up against the Yemeni government.
Watch | Bombing kills at least 40 outside Yemen military camp 00:28
Since the bombing began in March 2015, the UK has licensed £3.3 billion worth of arms to its ally, including £2.2 billion worth of aircraft, helicopters and drones.
At the same time Priti Patel, the International development secretary, has committed the government to spending £100 million to help the estimated 19 million Yemenis in need of aid.
Speaking in his London office, Mr Mitchell said: “The Government need to have a serious think about the the future of our policy. Yemen is not starving, Yemen is being starved and Britain is part of a coalition that is blockading this country by both land and sea.”
“People are horrified about what is happening and we are stoking hatred in this generation and particularly the next generation.”
His trip has again turned the spotlight on Britain’s support for the Saudis after four Cabinet Ministers, including Boris Johnson, vowed to continue to sell arms to Saudi Arabia in defiance of two parliamentary committees who called for Britain to cease military support for the country.
However, Mr Mitchell said he was not in favor of an arms embargo because “the Saudi’s will buy them from somewhere else.”
Watch | The UK and US have called for an immediate ceasefire in Yemen 02:58
He said: “It’s about how they are used and we have influence over the Saudis. We need to persuade the Saudis there’s another way of protecting their security and stop Yemen being pounded back into the Stone Age.”
During his visit to Yemen he said he had been told by the Houthi leadership that they would be ready to withdraw their troops from Saudi Arabia and set up a 20 km demilitarisation zone if all parties agreed to a ceasefire.
“The Houthis have said they will accept a British led negotiation and pull forces out of Saudi. The leadership says that as of today they will accept Britain and the UN chairing Yemeni-Saudi negotiations”, he said.
“There is no way the coalition is going to win in Yemen, where attitudes everyday are hardening, and the window of opportunity to redirect British policy will soon close.”
Both Britain and the US support the internationally-recognised government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who was ousted by the Iranian-aligned Houthi rebels.
But Mr Mitchell said: “We are supporting President Hadi, who has virtually no support in Yemen and is the only President I have ever come across who has to make an official visit to his own country.”
Who rules Saudi Arabia?Original Article