Peace campaigners have urged the UK Government to stop fuelling the civil war in Yemen as “shocking” figures revealed the true extent of arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
The UK Government licensed £1.4 billion worth of weapons sales to Saudi Arabian forces in the immediate aftermath of its decision to renew arms sales in July 2020. The majority are ML4 licences which cover bombs, missiles and countermeasures. The deal brings the total cost of UK-made weapons sold to the Saudi forces since the bombing of Yemen began in 2015 to £6.8 billion.
The UK is one of Saudi Arabia’s leading arms suppliers, along with the US, but crucially President Joe Biden has committed to end arms sales while the conflict continues. The UK-made equipment used in the war includes Typhoon and Tornado aircraft, Paveway bombs and Brimstone and Stormshadow missiles.
In June 2019, the Court of Appeal ruled that the Government acted unlawfully when it licensed the sale of arms to Saudi-led forces without assessing whether they would be used in ways that would breach humanitarian law. This followed a case brought by the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT). The government was ordered not to approve any new licences, but in July 2020 it resumed arms sales, claiming any violations of International Humanitarian Law were ‘isolated incidents’, despite the fact that hundreds of attacks on residential areas, schools, hospitals, civilian gatherings, and agricultural land and facilities have been documented.
Sarah Waldron, of CAAT, branded the new figures “shocking” and said they illustrate the Government’s determination to keep supplying arms at any cost.
“UK weapons have played a devastating role in Saudi attacks in Yemen, yet the UK Government has done everything it can to keep the arms sales flowing,” she said.
“The arms sales are immoral, and we believe that the decision to renew them was illegal. They must change course work to support peace.”
Picture: A worker stands on the wreckage of a vehicle oil and tyres store hit by Saudi-led airstrike in Yemen. (CNS).