Britain sold the Saudis over $1.5 billion worth of arms last summer that saw Riyadh escalate its deadly military campaign against Yemen, say human rights groups. From July to September 2015, the British government authorized the sales under an export category which covers missiles, rockets and bombs via five separate licenses, The Guardian cited Saferworld and Amnesty International are saying.
The sales were made just one day after Cameron claimed he was trying to “encourage a political process in Yemen,” and that the crisis in the country would not be solved through military intervention, said a Saferworld spokesperson. The Saudi air force “has bombed hospitals, schools, markets, grain warehouses, ports and a displaced persons camp and helped to turn Yemen into a living nightmare,” he added.
Amnesty International UK’s head of policy, Allan Hogarth, said that these licenses were being signed off by British officials as “hundreds - possibly thousands - of Yemeni civilians" were being killed by Saudi Arabia’s "terrifying barrage of indiscriminate" airstrikes. He continued, “The law is crystal clear: any Saudi attack, whether deliberate or not, that fails to adequately protect civilians is a violation of international law. And our obligations are equally clear – as a major supplier of Saudi Arabia’s weaponry, the UK is legally obliged to suspend arms exports.”
Last month, the Campaign Against Arms Trade NGO reported that the UK had sold over $8 billion of military hardware to Riyadh since Cameron took office in May 2010.