The UK announced plans on Monday to boost cooperation with Jordan in an effort to tackle Islamic extremism in the region as the first part of a trip that will also include Saudi Arabia.
Prime Minister Theresa May visited the Jordanian capital city of Amman on Monday as a part of a three-day trip to the Middle East. During her visit, she announced plans to increase training between UK and Jordanian air forces to improve strike capabilities directed at ISIS strongholds in the area.
Prior to her trip, May spoke to reporters about it.
“It is clearly in the UK’s security and prosperity interests to support Jordan and Saudi Arabia in tackling regional challenges to create a more stable region, and in delivering their ambitious reform programs to ensure their own stability.”
“An even deeper partnership with these countries, and greater knowledge and understanding of one another, will increase our ability to address the issues that concern us, including the promotion of international standards and norms,” she added.
The British Prime Minister is expected to visit Saudi Arabia next before returning to London.
“Jordan is on the frontline of multiple regional crises and I’m clear that by working with them, we are helping keep British people safe. Likewise in Saudi Arabia, we must never forget that intelligence we have received in the past from that country has saved potentially hundreds of lives in the UK.”
According to reports out of London, the Prime Minister’s visit isn’t only about strengthening the military cooperation between nations, but also to deepen trade ties. Saudi Arabia, in particular, is the U.K.’s largest trading partner in the Middle East, with the exchange of goods and services between the two nations surpassing $5.28 billion in 2015 alone.
Unfortunately for the British politician, her trip comes on the heels of the UK’s metropolitan police force announcing that they have begun considering investigating claims of Saudi Arabian activities in Yemen. Although the Metropolitan Police are responsible for law enforcement in Greater London, they also spear head the nation’s counter-terrorism efforts and are responsible for the security of senior members of the British royal family as well as members of the cabinet and other ministerial members of the government.
May did not address the possibility of an investigation into the Saudi led coalition engaging rebels in Yemen, or the alleged civilian deaths that have occurred as a result. Her administration has been criticized for continuing to sell weapons to the Saudis despite allegations of human rights abuses in Yemen, which accounted for more than $2.64 billion worth of the trade between nations.
According to local reports, at least 10,000 people have died thus far in the fighting between the Saudi led coalition and the rebels in Yemen.
“To tackle the threats we face from terrorism and from geopolitical instability, we must meet them at their source.” She told reporters.
Arguments within the UK regarding their support for Saudi Arabia led to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson having to apologize to the Saudi government last week for an anti-war demonstrator attempting to perform a “citizen’s arrest” on a Saudi general visiting London.
Major General Ahmed Asiri was confronted by the activist and other protestors chanting “hands off Yemen” before his security was able to whisk him away despite attempts to block his car.
Image courtesy of AFP