UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps
UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps held talks with Saudi Arabia and UAE leaders to maintain stability in the region amidst Israel-Hamas war tension along the Gaza Strip.

As the Arab world is reeling under the aftereffects of the Hamas attack on Israel and the subsequent retaliation by the Benjamin Netanyahu government, Britain continues its efforts to maintain peace in the region.

For this purpose, UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps has been visiting Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), this week, revealed the UK Defence Ministry on October 26.

The primary objective of the Defence Secretary's visit to Saudi Arabia and the UAE is to drive for stability in the region and protect civilians amidst growing bloodshed along the Gaza Strip.

Along with that strengthening Britain's defence partnership with Saudi Arabia and the UAE was also on the agenda.

The Defence Secretary met leaders of both the countries, as part of the UK's diplomatic efforts to prevent wider conflict in the Middle East. Britain is trying to ease tensions in the region after the Hamas attack on Israel, by constantly being in touch with the ministers and officials of over 40 nations.

This comes at a time when the UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and the British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak recently visited Israel and held talks with leaders of the region and visited the affected people. Earlier, the Foreign Secretary spoke to the Palestinian Prime Minister and the Foreign Ministers of Egypt and Jordan to de-escalate the situation.

Britain is trying to coordinate its response to the Israel-Hamas war with the US response and to discuss that the two countries' Defence Secretary held a meeting in Washington last week.

Call for Gulf countries to be mediators in the Israel-Hamas War

Speaking about his visit to the Middle East, Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said: "I'm here in the Middle East to work with some of our most valued defence partners to prevent escalation and protect all civilians".

Shapps stressed working together to stop "innocent families being plunged into suffering".

On October 25, Shapps met Saudi Arabian Defence Minister His Royal Highness (HRH) Khalid bin Salman in Riyadh to convey any strategic support to maintain stability in the eastern Mediterranean region.

The Defence Secretary assured his Saudi Arabian counterpart that the UK's priority is to protect civilians and prevent any escalation of the situation, as it can undermine regional stability. Shapps also made it clear that the deployment of military assets in the eastern Mediterranean region was to deter any such activities that intensified the conflict.

In Abu Dhabi, the Defence Secretary spoke of the UAE's role in de-escalating the Israel-Hamas war situation by urging the country and other Gulf countries to act as mediators, interlocutors and leaders. Shapps spoke with the UAE President HRH Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Defence Minister Mohammed Al Bowardi regarding this.

This comes at a time when the UK has sent 21 tonnes of life-saving aid including care lacks, water filters and solar lights for Palestinian civilians along the Gaza Strip. This part of the UK government's plan to increase its humanitarian support to the Palestinian-occupied territories to £30 million after several pro-Palestinian protests in London.

According to Gaza's Ministry of Health, an organisation run by Hamas, more than 7000 Palestinians have died including some 2900 minors, since Israel declared war. Israel has blocked journalists and humanitarian aid along the Gaza Strip.

One estimate from Gaza's Ministry of Health claimed that an Israel attack killed 500 Palestinians in an hour. Meanwhile, the death toll on the Israeli side stands at 1400.

Britain has been asking both Israel and Hamas to respect International humanitarian law along the Gaza Strip to mitigate the humanitarian crisis in the region. This is despite the UK's unequivocal support for Netanyahu and Israel's right to defend itself by declaring war on Hamas.