Updated: Jul 27, 2020
By Jack Street
The British government is to resume arms sales to Saudi Arabia. This comes after a temporary ban was placed on arms sales to the Saudis in order to determine whether British arms were being used to commit war crimes in Yemen. Liz Truss, the Secretary of State for International Trade, has decided to resume sales after a government report stated that there had only been ‘isolated incidents’ of violations.
The government believes it is ok to sell arms to Yemen because there have only been ‘isolated incidents’ of war crimes being committed...
The irony of this decision is that just a few days ago the government passed sanctions against twenty human rights abusers around that world that included Saudi citizens. Resuming the selling of weapons to the Saudis contradicts the decision to put sanctions on human rights abusers and brings shame to the United Kingdom.
Yemen is currently undergoing the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. Years of conflict between the Saudi backed government forces and the Houthi rebel movement have torn the country apart, led to the killing of thousands of innocent civilians and the displacement of millions more. There is undeniable evidence, as Liz Truss admits, that weapons sold to the Saudis by Britain have been used to kill civilians. On top of this, Yemen is struggling with COVID-19 and natural disasters, displacing civilians further and forcing people that are vulnerable to live in rudimentary camps. For the government to continue arming a state that has a history of targeting civilians makes all of us complicit in the war crimes that are occurring.
Dominic Raab, when speaking about the sanctions that were being placed on twenty human rights abusers, stated that the government was ‘absolutely committed to the United Kingdom being an even stronger force for good in the world’. This bare-faced lie comes as Britain continues to play its part in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. If the United Kingdom wishes to be a force for good in the world we must not only work towards peaceful and democratic ends to conflicts around the world but must also sever ties and enforce sanctions on any state that abuses international law.
If evidence that British arms are killing children and helping to displace millions will not stop the government from selling arms to war criminals, then what will? Our government is morally bankrupt on this issue and cares more about profit than it does about saving the lives of innocent people abroad.
BAE systems alone have sold £15 billion worth of arms to the Saudis over the last five years. However, this is not an issue of saving and creating jobs in the UK, it is about our country contributing to the killing of children. I refer back to Liz Truss stating that there had only been ‘isolated incidents’ of British weapons being used in an abusive manner - well I say that one innocent person killed with the use of a British manufactured weapon by a foreign power is one too many and can never be justified.
We must immediately cease the sale of arms to foreign powers that are committing war crimes and we must instead involve ourselves in seeking a peaceful end to a war that has caused such horrific damage to Yemen and its people.
Some further reading on stopping the sale of arms:
Disclaimer: All views expressed in this piece belong solely to the author and do not reflect the views of Demographica as a company.