British military advisors involved in bombing in Yemen
News has emerged over the past few days that British and American advisors and service personnel have been involved in advising the Saudi Arabians in their attacks on Yemen. Our involvement might not have come to light had it not been for the Saudis themselves and a briefing by their foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir. The Minister of Defence, Michael Fallon, issued a statement to the House of Commons on 17 December which simply referred to 94 personnel embedded with ‘Coalition HQ’s’ without being at all specific about what that meant. It now appears our people are actively involved in targeting strikes. MoD say that our personnel are “not directly involved in Saudi-led Coalition operations” but the Saudi briefing confirms that we are in the command centre.
The problem is that a range of non-military targets are being hit including schools and medical facilities. A total of around 3,000 have been killed since hostilities began. Médécins san Frontières have reported missile hits on one of their medical facilities although they are uncertain of the origin of the weapons concerned.
Campaign Against the Arms Trade are stepping up their legal campaign and have issued a ‘letter before action’ for judicial review, challenging decisions to continue to export arms to Saudi Arabia despite increasing evidence that they are violating international humanitarian law. (11 January 2016)
Amnesty have pointed out that provisions of the Arms Trade Treaty – which the UK is party to – prohibit us from exporting arms transfers if they have knowledge that the arms would be used to commit attacks against civilians, civilian objects or other violations of international humanitarian law. It said there was “a pattern of appalling disregard for civilian lives displayed by the Saudi Arabia-led military coalition”. There is also a risk of famine because of the blockade on Yemeni ports.
That our government and service personnel are somehow involved in this is shocking.
Sources: Daily Telegraph; Daily Mail; the Guardian; CAAT; Reprieve; Amnesty International