Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Blood Money

The Saudi-led civil conflict in Yemen had resulted in the deaths of 6,400 people – half of them civilians - and displaced millions of others. The House of Commons International Development Committee and the European Parliament have both called for an arms embargo to be placed on the Kingdom of Saudi, but the UK Government has continued to support the autocratic state. The UK has approved 122 military licences to the value of £2.8bn to Saudi Arabia since the regime started its widely condemned bombing campaign in Yemen. The exports continue despite Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Doctors Without Borders all accusing Saudi Arabia of violating international humanitarian law with their continued air strikes.

Saudi Arabia has also been the biggest recipient of UK arms by a significant margin, and since 2010 has received military equipment worth £6.7bn. A breakdown of the £2.8 billion worth of arms exported to Saudi Arabia from the UK includes £430,000 of licences for armoured vehicles and tanks, £1.1bn for grenades, bombs, missiles and countermeasures, and £1.7bn for aircrafts, helicopters and drones.

David Wearing, a researcher on UK-Saudi-Gulf relations and the author of the CAAT report, said: “Successive governments of all political colours have prioritised arms sales over human rights. The toxic UK-Saudi alliance has boosted the Saudi regime and lined the pockets of arms companies, but has had devastating consequences for the people of Saudi Arabia and Yemen. For the sake of those people, the UK government must finally stop arming and empowering the brutal Saudi monarchy.”

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