Armida van Rij and Benedict Wilkinson

3 September 2018

Read the Report





This report, commissioned by the Remote Warfare Programme, assesses the costs and benefits to the UK of its defence and security relationship with Saudi Arabia, as well as the extent to which the UK is able to exert leverage and influence over Saudi Arabian foreign policy.

It finds that:

  • There is little evidence, based on publicly available information, that the UK exerts either influence or leverage over Saudi Arabia. In fact, there is greater evidence that Saudi Arabia exerts influence over the UK.
  • There is a contradiction between the UK presenting itself as a progressive, liberal country and defender the international rules-based order, while at the same time providing diplomatic cover for a regime, which, based on this analysis, is undermining that rules-based order.
  • The UK appears to be incurring reputational costs as a result of its relationship with Saudi Arabia, while the economic benefits to the UK are questionable.

Image credit: Number 10/Flickr


About the authors

Armida van Rij is a Research Assistant at the Policy Institute, King's College London.

Benedict Wilkinson is Interim Deputy Director and Senior Research Fellow in the Policy Institute at King’s College.