Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Licenced to kill

For two years now, Saudi forces have unleashed a brutal humanitarian catastrophe on the people of Yemen. The response from the UK government has been to keep arming and supporting the Saudi regime, irrespective of the destruction it has caused. 10,000 people have been killed and millions have been left without access to vital infrastructure, clean water or electricity. An estimated 17 million people are food-insecure and require urgent humanitarian assistance.
For decades now, Saudi Arabia has been by far the largest buyer of UK arms. The Saudi air force is using UK-licensed fighter jets, bombs, and missiles in its ongoing bombardment of Yemen.

Since the bombing began in March 2015, the UK has licensed over £3.3bn worth of arms to the regime, including:
  •  £2.2 bn worth of ML10 licences (aircraft, helicopters, drones)
  • £1.1 bn worth of ML4 licences (grenades, bombs, missiles, countermeasures)
  • £430,000 worth of ML6 licences (armoured vehicles, tanks)
These weapons have underpinned a close political and military relationship, causing the UK to make excuses and look the other way while atrocities have taken place. They have also been used with devastating consequences: Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are among those that have linked UK bombs to attacks on civilian infrastructure.

 The message being sent out is that Yemeni lives are less important than profits for arms companies. An appalling humanitarian crisis mounts today in Yemen where a naval blockade, ruthlessly imposed by the Saudi government, has led to mass poverty and famine. The Saudi Arabian coalitionSaudi forces, backed by the US and UK, are bombing schools, hospitals, homes, farms, and food-markets. It remains the ‘forgotten war’ simply because the mainstream media chooses not to highlight  the horrors being inflicted on Yemen. There is no media indignation at the atrocities nor reports portraying any of the human tragedies. There is no highly personalised demonisation of the leaders of Saudi Arabia – as applied in the past to dictators such as Saddam Hussein of Iraq,  Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, and Slobodan MiloŇ°evic of Serbia or today's Syria's Bashir Assad. The Saudi king and his sheiks are given a free pass. 
It shows the bias of the mainstream news media to follow government policy, to defer to, and indeed support, government policy.  The media present scant critical perspectives.

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