"Morally bankrupt UK government are propping up the brutal Saudi regime"

7 July 2020, 20:46

By Fiona Jones

This anti-arms campaigner slammed the Government's decision to continue selling weapons to Saudi Arabia as a "morally bankrupt" choice to prop up "brutal dictators."

The UK is to resume selling weapons to Saudi Arabia despite "possible" war crimes committed by the Middle Eastern kingdom in Yemen.

Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss said on Tuesday the UK Government had complied with a court order by assessing whether Saudi Arabia would use British weapons to break international humanitarian law (IHL).

Last year, the Court of Appeal ruled that Britain broke the law by allowing arms sales to Saudi Arabia without assessing whether they might be used nefariously in the war in neighbouring Yemen. Following the ruling, the UK was barred from granting export licences to sell arms to their biggest weapons purchaser Saudi Arabia for one year.

Unsurprisingly, the Director of Campaign Against the Arms Trade Andrew Smith told LBC that he thinks this is a "disgraceful" and "morally bankrupt" decision by the UK Government which will see many people die.

The campaign group's lawyers are exploring all avenues with the intention of taking legal action against what they believe is an illegal move.

Saudi Hawk jets are among the arms sold to the Arabic kingdom by the UK, which the caller told Iain causes untold destruction
Saudi Hawk jets are among the arms sold to the Arabic kingdom by the UK, which the caller told Iain causes untold destruction. Picture: PA/LBC

"Since the war began the UK's licensed over £3 billion worth of fighter jets, bombs and missiles to the Saudi regime and they've had a devastating impact on Yemen, creating the worst humanitarian crisis in the world," Mr Smith told Iain.

A government review claimed the Saudis have only used the UK-made weapons for isolated incidents, which Mr Smith said included attacks on schools, bombing of hospitals and homes.

While he acknowledged there is no finite proof UK weapons have been used by the Saudis to do this, "there's a clear risk that there could be and that's all that UK arms exports law requires. It says very clearly if there's a risk a weapon might be used in a serious violation of international humanitarian law then arms sale shouldn't go ahead."

"How many hundreds of isolated events does it take for the government to stop supplying the weaponry?"

While Mr Smith campaigns for a world which ultimately has no weapons of mass destruction, he urges for now that the UK does not "prop up brutal dictators like the Saudi regime."

"Only yesterday the Government was talking about the need to sanction human rights abusers but now it's shown when push comes to shove it will do everything it can to continue arming and supporting one of the most brutal dictatorships in the world."