UK Prime Minister Theresa May (L) meets with Defense Minister of Saudi Arabia Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud (R) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on April 5, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
UK Prime Minister Theresa May is not likely to release the findings of an investigation into Saudi Arabia’s funding of extremist groups across Britain, out of fear that the move would hurt relations with the Middle Eastern ally.
Commissioned by former UK Prime Minister David Cameron in December 2015, when May was Home Secretary, the report was due to be completed by mid-April and has been in May’s possession for at least six months, The Independent reported Tuesday.
The investigation was aimed at exploring the origins and the scale of funding of terror groups within the UK. It also sought to expose the international money streams that were used to fund such groups.
The probe was ordered under an agreement between the ruling Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats in return for supporting the extension of UK’s participation in the US-led military campaign against purported terrorist positions inside Syria.
When asked by Green MP Caroline Lucas about the report, she said it had “improved the Government’s understanding of the nature, scale and sources of funding for Islamist extremism in the UK.”
“Ministers are considering advice on what is able to be published and will report to Parliament with an update in due course,” she added.
The Home Office confirmed to The Guardian last month that the report had yet to be completed and might never be released to the public because of its “very sensitive” content.
Since becoming prime minister, May has courted the oil-rich kingdom, which is also London’s biggest weapons buyer.
She approved a £3.5 billion weapons export license to Saudi Arabia earlier this year, despite an ongoing legal case that accuses her government of complicity in the kingdom’s war crimes in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud (R) presenting British Prime Minister Theresa May with the Order of King Abdulaziz in the capital Riyadh, April 5, 2017.
The UK also views Saudi Arabia as one of its main trading partners after leaving the European Union (EU). This while Saudis, under their new Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman are trying to diversify the country’s economy by reducing dependence on oil.
In an interview with The Guardian, Lucas said May’s delay in publishing the report was “astonishing,” specially in the wake of the recent wave of terror attacks that hit London and Manchester.
“To defeat terror it’s vital that politicians have full view of the facts, even if they are inconvenient for the government,” she said.
The behavior has also drawn criticism from Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, who says to fight extremism in the UK May needs to start with “Saudi Arabia and the (Persian) Gulf sates.”
“It is no good Theresa May suppressing a report into the foreign funding of extremist groups. We have to get serious about cutting off the funding to these terror networks, including Isis, here and in the Middle East,” he said during the campaign for the June 8 general election.