Since the conflict escalated in March the UK has issued 37 arms export licences for arms transfers to Saudi Arabia. The government has declined to tell parliament the details of these deals, Guardian reports.
In December, the UK government adopted in law the UN’s arms trade treaty, which binds governments to stop arms transfers if there is a risk of breaches of international humanitarian law or human rights law.
There is ample and credible evidence that invaders to Yemen have failed to distinguish adequately between combatants and civilians.
The UK boasts that it has “one of the most rigorous and transparent export control regimes in the world”. If this really is the case, the government needs to immediately suspend all arms transfers to the conflict and launch an investigation into how these weapons have been used.
You’re right to say that “there must be a preparedness to name, shame and restrain those who are conducting atrocities against civilians in Yemen”. These catastrophic onslaughts, which arguably employ starvation as a weapon, leave no doubt that efforts to impose restraint must be the priority.
The suffering of civilians dictates that the US must stem its supplies of arms to Saudi Arabia, and in particular take any measures that will lead to a cessation of the Saudi bombing campaign, which is inflicting such terrible bloodshed on non-combatants.
The UK also appears to be complicit. Saudi Arabia is Britain’s biggest weapons exports customer. In July, defence minister Frederick Curzon said Britain had provided the country with technical support and precision-guided weapons, and confirmed the presence of British personnel at the Saudi and coalition air and maritime headquarters.
At the same time, how cockeyed it is that, the UK having approved £4bn worth of weapons sales to Riyadh in the five years to May 2015, an unspecified number of Britons are based in Bahrain, according to a statement later in July by armed forces minister Penny Mordaunt.