It is now a full year since Saudi Arabia began bombing in Yemen and it is time we put pressure on our government to stop selling arms to this regime which is breaking international law.
In February MEPs voted for a European Union-wide arms embargo against Saudi Arabia to protest against the Gulf state’s bombing in Yemen which is a violation of international law that has resulted in thousands of deaths. The European parliament voted by a large majority for an EU-wide ban on arms sales to the kingdom, citing the “disastrous humanitarian situation” as a result of “Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen”. The resolution criticised the “intensification of airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition”.
The Parliament does not have the power to force members of the EU to act but it is a clear statement of the position of the majority of European people. The motion, based on a proposal put forward by the Green Group, was passed by 359 votes to 212, with a majority made up of Socialists, Liberals, Greens, Leftists and Eurosceptics. Britain’s Conservatives, reflecting continued support for the arms industry by our national government at the cost of innocent lives. In the last year the Foreign Office has supplied export licences for up to £3bn worth of arms to Saudi Arabia; the UK has been the largest supplier of arms to the region since 2010.
The UK has also been accused of direct involvement in the bombing campaign because there are British military in Saudi, although the government claims they are only involved in training. And Cameron was involved in the absurd situation where Saudi Arabia was given a seat on the UN Human Rights Council.
Although we are not seeing enough pressure on Saudi and it is a disgrace that they are using British-made arms to kill children in Yemen, none the less it is clear that outside the EU we would not even see the constraint of EU human rights policy to prevent the immoral arms sales our government relishes.