The government’s decision to resume arms sales to Saudi Arabia has been described as “illegal, immoral and deadly” by campaigners.
Parliament convened today to scrutinise the move to continue selling weapons to the Middle Eastern regime – despite violations of International Humanitarian Law committed in Yemen.
Since the bombing of Yemen began in March 2015, the UK has licensed £5.3 billion worth of arms to the Saudi regime.
It is thought UK’s biggest arms company, BAE Systems has made £15 billion in revenue from services and sales to Saudi Arabia since then via the opaque and secretive Open Licence system.
Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: “We are glad that this decision has been scrutinised in parliament, but a decision of this magnitude should not have needed all the opposition parties to come together in order to force the government to answer questions.
“These arms sales are illegal, immoral and deadly. The decision to resume them can only prolong the war and increase the bloodshed. The government is always telling us how robust its arms export controls are, but nothing could be further from the trust. This brutal bombardment is only possible because of the complicity and support of arms dealing governments like the UK.
“The government says that possible breaches of international law are ‘isolated incidents’, but there have been hundreds of them. These are not statistics, they are people’s lives. Saudi forces have bombed schools, hospitals and homes. They have turned gatherings into massacres and inflicted a humanitarian crisis on Yemen. We are considering all legal options to challenge this appalling decision.”