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Yemen: Should We Be Stopping Aid?

The Plaque Outside The South Door Of The Ministry Of Defence Main Building in Whitehall, London. © Crown Copyright 2013 Photographer: Harland Quarrington -Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Is now the time to build a better foreign policy?

The civil war in Yemen has been raging for almost seven years. Since 2014, the people of Yemen have been subject to nothing short of an international failure to act in the interests of the people.

The UK Government cut roughly 50% of its funding to the UN humanitarian effort in the region, with the whole effort from over 100 individual governments falling far short of the $3.85bn that had been hoped for. The current budget stands at $1.7bn – less than half of what was asked for.

Why is this conflict so important to the UK? Mainly because we are one of the biggest suppliers of weaponry to the Saudi Arabian military, which is currently engaged in fighting against the Houthi rebels.

Should we be funding this? Probably not. It is once again an example of a despotic regime: Saudi Arabia. This is a country that, as we know, is not above killing journalists with the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, and more recently detaining a Saudi Princess and holding her against her will for almost a year as of this date.

It is now time for a radical rethink of our foreign policy. The Western world has put up with tyrannical governments like that of Saudi Arabia for too long – we should not be funding bloodshed, while at the same time refusing to pay for the cleanup. We as a country should be bold on the world stage, ensuring that people around the world can live by the British model of life – free from persecution, not staring down the barrel of artillery.

We as a world have not heeded the lessons of Iraq. Almost two decades from “Mission Accomplished”, the War on Terror has gained us little in the way of results despite 179 British lives lost, thousands of American lives, and 800,000 people in total killed by this conflict – the same as the population of Guyana.

The failure of the War on Terror is most often judged by the increased amount of terror attacks on Western cities. The disaster it has caused in Iraq, Syria and now Yemen often goes unmentioned.

America has started to heed this lesson, with the new administration cutting formal support for the Saudi-led coalition while freezing arms sales. It is now time for us to follow suit and begin to build a more positive foreign policy, rather than helping despotic regimes assert their dominance over others.

We as a country are capable of so much more.