Title Title
London protestors rally against 'horrible dictator' Saudi prince London protestors rally against 'horrible dictator' Saudi prince
Summary Summary
WikiTribune speaks with demonstrators on Downing Street who oppose UK support for Saudi Arabia, and the war in Yemen WikiTribune speaks with demonstrators on Downing Street who oppose UK support for Saudi Arabia, and the war in Yemen
Highlights Highlights
Content Content
<strong>Queen Elizabeth and U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May both welcomed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman on March 7, while small crowds of angry citizens protested against his visit. The prince and presumed next leader of Saudi Arabia is </strong><strong>on a three-day visit focused on improving trade and defense relations, supported by an advertising blitz across multiple media.</strong> <strong>Queen Elizabeth and U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May both welcomed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman on March 7, while small crowds of angry citizens protested against his visit. The prince and presumed next leader of Saudi Arabia is </strong><strong>on a three-day visit focused on improving trade and defense relations, supported by an advertising blitz across multiple media.</strong>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">The </span><a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-saudi/may-defends-saudi-ties-as-crown-prince-gets-royal-welcome-in-london-idUKKCN1GI2ZM"><span style="font-weight: 400;">visit faced criticism </span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">from those who disapprove of Saudi Arabia’s undemocratic government, and the country’s war in neighboring Yemen, which has claimed roughly</span><a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-29319423"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> 9,000 lives - the majority civilians.</span></a> <span style="font-weight: 400;">The </span><a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-saudi/may-defends-saudi-ties-as-crown-prince-gets-royal-welcome-in-london-idUKKCN1GI2ZM"><span style="font-weight: 400;">visit faced criticism </span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">from those who disapprove of Saudi Arabia’s undemocratic government, and the country’s war in neighboring Yemen, which has claimed roughly</span><a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-29319423"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> 9,000 lives - the majority civilians.</span></a>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">A wide-ranging <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/03/07/saudi-crown-princes-visit-to-london-turns-into-a-bitter-and-awkward-pr-battle-about-his-legacy/?utm_term=.456d6ab7402c">advertising campaign</a> in newspapers, websites and billboards has stressed the positive aspects of the Prince and the Kingdom (<em>Washington Post)</em>.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">A wide-ranging <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/03/07/saudi-crown-princes-visit-to-london-turns-into-a-bitter-and-awkward-pr-battle-about-his-legacy/?utm_term=.456d6ab7402c">advertising campaign</a> in newspapers, websites and billboards has stressed the positive aspects of the Prince and the Kingdom (<em>Washington Post)</em>.</span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">Roughly 200 anti-war activists protested on the opposite side of Downing Street, chanting “hands off Yemen” . While the face of the Saudi prince was on several picket signs, the focus of the protest was more on the UK’s support of his government.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Roughly 200 anti-war activists protested on the opposite side of Downing Street, chanting “hands off Yemen” . While the face of the Saudi prince was on several picket signs, the focus of the protest was more on the UK’s support of his government.</span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">“We’re here because Theresa May has invited the horrible dictator from Saudi Arabia … probably to organize a few more arms deals,” said Mayer Wakefield, an organizer with Stop The War, an anti-war group that helped orchestrate the event. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">“We’re here because Theresa May has invited the horrible dictator from Saudi Arabia … probably to organize a few more arms deals,” said Mayer Wakefield, an organizer with Stop The War, an anti-war group that helped orchestrate the event. </span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">Saudi Arabia has bombed Yemen for more than four years in attempts to squash Houthi rebels, a Shiite group with ties to Iran. Almost £4 billion</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> (US$5.2bn) worth of the weapons were purchased from British defense manufacturers </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">(</span></i><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/09/arms-sales-repressive-regimes-saudi-arabia"><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Guardian</span></i></a><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">)</span></i><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></i> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Saudi Arabia has bombed Yemen for more than four years in attempts to squash Houthi rebels, a Shiite group with ties to Iran. Almost £4 billion</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> (US$5.2bn) worth of the weapons were purchased from British defense manufacturers </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">(</span></i><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/09/arms-sales-repressive-regimes-saudi-arabia"><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Guardian</span></i></a><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">)</span></i><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></i>
[caption id="attachment_53955" align="aligncenter" width="620"]<img class="size-medium wp-image-53955" src="https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/wikitribune-uploads-master/2018/03/08002604/Mbs-protest2-620x411.jpg" alt="" width="620" height="411" /> Protestor with Social Worker Party sign in demonstration against Prince Mohammad bin Salman UK visit (Photo Charlie Michio Turner)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_53955" align="aligncenter" width="620"]<img class="size-medium wp-image-53955" src="https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/wikitribune-uploads-master/2018/03/08002604/Mbs-protest2-620x411.jpg" alt="" width="620" height="411" /> Protestor with Social Worker Party sign in demonstration against Prince Mohammad bin Salman UK visit (Photo Charlie Michio Turner)[/caption]
<span style="font-weight: 400;">Yet public awareness of this is low. An (unscientific) YouGov poll, </span><a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/yemen-civil-war-british-weapons-poll-human-appeal-half-unaware-saudi-air-strikes-civilian-deaths-a7636271.html"><span style="font-weight: 400;">reported by the<em> Independent</em></span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, found that 49 percent of UK respondents were unaware of the conflict in Yemen, let alone the involvement of UK weapons. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Yet public awareness of this is low. An (unscientific) YouGov poll, </span><a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/yemen-civil-war-british-weapons-poll-human-appeal-half-unaware-saudi-air-strikes-civilian-deaths-a7636271.html"><span style="font-weight: 400;">reported by the<em> Independent</em></span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, found that 49 percent of UK respondents were unaware of the conflict in Yemen, let alone the involvement of UK weapons. </span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">“Brexit dominates almost every news outlet… it's a huge distraction,” Andy Slaughter, Labour MP for Hammersmith, told <em>WikiTribune</em>, . </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">“Brexit dominates almost every news outlet… it's a huge distraction,” Andy Slaughter, Labour MP for Hammersmith, told <em>WikiTribune</em>, . </span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">“But there is a link with [Brexit and] Saudi… we’re much less critical of regimes with bad human rights records because we’re going to need to increasingly rely on these regimes for trade because we’re pulling out of the EU.” </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">“But there is a link with [Brexit and] Saudi… we’re much less critical of regimes with bad human rights records because we’re going to need to increasingly rely on these regimes for trade because we’re pulling out of the EU.” </span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">Slaughter was one of at least three Labour MPs at the protest. Each pledged to change the relationship with the Saudi kingdom if Labour wins power. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Slaughter was one of at least three Labour MPs at the protest. Each pledged to change the relationship with the Saudi kingdom if Labour wins power. </span>
  [caption id="attachment_53954" align="aligncenter" width="620"]<img class="size-medium wp-image-53954" src="https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/wikitribune-uploads-master/2018/03/08002318/Mbs-protest3-620x411.jpg" alt="" width="620" height="411" /> Protestors listen to Labour MP Andy Slaughter speak on Brexit and UK support for Saudi Arabia (Photo Charlie Michio Turner)[/caption]
<span style="font-weight: 400;">The role of the Houthis in the Yemen war, and their Iranian backers, was largely absent from the demonstration. While Iran denies arming the rebel group, </span><a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-iran-houthis/exclusive-iran-steps-up-support-for-houthis-in-yemens-war-sources-idUSKBN16S22R"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Reuters reported in</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> March 2017 that the Shiite power covertly shipped ballistic missiles and other military supplies to Yemen, sometimes through third-party countries. U.S. President Donald J. Trump has </span><a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/statement-president-iran-nuclear-deal/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">cited Tehran’s involvement </span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">in Yemen as a reason why he wants to abandon the Iran nuclear deal despite its strong support with European and Asian allies. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">The role of the Houthis in the Yemen war, and their Iranian backers, was largely absent from the demonstration. While Iran denies arming the rebel group, </span><a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-iran-houthis/exclusive-iran-steps-up-support-for-houthis-in-yemens-war-sources-idUSKBN16S22R"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Reuters reported in</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> March 2017 that the Shiite power covertly shipped ballistic missiles and other military supplies to Yemen, sometimes through third-party countries. U.S. President Donald J. Trump has </span><a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/statement-president-iran-nuclear-deal/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">cited Tehran’s involvement </span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">in Yemen as a reason why he wants to abandon the Iran nuclear deal despite its strong support with European and Asian allies. </span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">“There are atrocities going on both sides of the Saudi war, we have a particular role to promote peace there… not to just sell arms to one side,” said MP Slaughter when asked about Houthis. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">“There are atrocities going on both sides of the Saudi war, we have a particular role to promote peace there… not to just sell arms to one side,” said MP Slaughter when asked about Houthis. </span>
<h2><b>Pro-Saudi counter protest</b></h2> <h2><b>Pro-Saudi counter protest</b></h2>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">A few dozen meters away, fewer than 30 protesters held a separate protest with a completely different message. The all-male crowd stood in solidarity with Prince Mohammad bin Salman. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">A few dozen meters away, fewer than 30 protesters held a separate protest with a completely different message. The all-male crowd stood in solidarity with Prince Mohammad bin Salman. </span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">Each protestor claimed to be from Yemen, though nearly all of them refused to speak to <em>WikiTribune</em>. One man, who called himself Salem Ali, agreed to speak on the record. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Each protestor claimed to be from Yemen, though nearly all of them refused to speak to <em>WikiTribune</em>. One man, who called himself Salem Ali, agreed to speak on the record. </span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">“We’re here to welcome him … he’s done a lot for us,” said Ali in front of a sign of the Saudi leader.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">“We’re here to welcome him … he’s done a lot for us,” said Ali in front of a sign of the Saudi leader.</span>
While Ali defended Prince bin Salman, his passion would be better described as anti-Houthi, a group that he blames for destroying the security apparatus of his home country. He regards the anti-Prince demonstrators as "confused". While Ali defended Prince bin Salman, his passion would be better described as anti-Houthi, a group that he blames for destroying the security apparatus of his home country. He regards the anti-Prince demonstrators as "confused".
“They haven’t been hurt like us, they haven’t lost friends, neighbors and family,” said Ali, gesturing towards the stage and leading another round of “Hands off Yemen” chanting. “They haven’t been hurt like us, they haven’t lost friends, neighbors and family,” said Ali, gesturing towards the stage and leading another round of “Hands off Yemen” chanting.
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Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, Yemen, United Kingdom Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, Yemen, United Kingdom
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