We welcome President Joe Biden’s decision to end offensive arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). We note however that the US will continue to provide so-called “defensive” support to Saudi Arabia and will continue operations against al-Qaida in the Arabian peninsula. The US should end all arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The UK Foreign Office has said it will not stop arming Saudi Arabia. We call on the UK government to stop all arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE including maintenance and crucial logistical support (especially for targeting), increase humanitarian aid to Yemen and press Saudi Arabia and UAE to implement a ceasefire and negotiate a peace agreement.”
Almost six years of conflict in Yemen has created the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, with more than 24 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, including more than 12 million children. The UK is now the largest enabler of the Saudis with over £6 billion worth of arms sales to Saudi forces since the war began. CAAT estimates that the real total value could be three times higher. The continuing provision of support and arms is a clear violation of the UK’s own guidelines on arms sales, and of international law.
Over 230,000 people have been killed as a direct consequence of the war. 2 million people have been displaced (UNHCR, Oct 2018). The cholera outbreak, caused by the destruction of infrastructure, is the worst on record, with over one million suspected cases (Oxfam).
The UN has suggested that Saudi forces have killed twice as many civilians as combatants. Sites which have been bombed by Saudi forces include schools, hospitals, homes, a refugee camp, a wedding, a funeral, a market place and a school bus. Atrocities have been committed on all sides, but Saudi coalition air strikes are responsible for the majority of civilian deaths.
According to Yemeni Human Rights group Mwatana (2018), Paveway IV missiles with components made at Raytheon’s factory in Glenrothes have been linked to attacks on civilian infrastructure in Yemen. Scottish Enterprise awarded grants to several arms companies, including Fife-based Raytheon, which sell weapons to Saudi. The Scottish Government should end all grants to arms manufacturers.
Peace & Justice is calling on the UK government to end all arms sales to and military cooperation with Saudi Arabia. The government should immediately refuse licence applications, revoke any extant license for exports where the end-user is the Saudi military and end cooperation between the UK military and the Saudi military at all levels.
This post was published as the Editorial in the February Peace & Justice News. There is lots of movement news, P&J News and feature articles in the magazine. Read the full edition here.