British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon has said that Saudi Arabia is simply “defending itself” against Houthi attacks emanating from Yemen.
In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s “Today” program this week, Fallon said that the Kingdom was “fully entitled” to defend itself and added that Saudi Arabia is an “enormously important trading partner.”
When asked whether the Conservative Party would mull over whether to ban the sale of arms to the country, as some critics in the country have called for, Fallon responded:
“Saudi Arabia is being attacked by Houthi rebels across its southern border with Yemen.
It’s had its towns and villages shelled by the Houthis.
“Saudi Arabia is fully entitled to defend itself and it’s fully entitled to call on its friends in so doing.”
The minister went on to emphasize the issue of defense cooperation between the two countries.
“We share intelligence with Saudi Arabia about terrorism.
We gain from that relationship.
Every arms export application is very carefully looked at and judged by our criteria — some of the toughest in the world. But Saudi Arabia, equally, is entitled to defend itself.”
Britain is the second largest arms exporter in the world, according to UK Trade and Investment.
Britain has been looking to maintain ties with Saudi Arabia and Prime Minister Theresa May visited the country in April in a bid to secure investment and trade after Britain officially started a two-year countdown to leaving the EU.
At the time, May’s office said she and King Salman “discussed working together to address the humanitarian situation in Yemen.”