The war in Yemen (again)
UPDATE: 21 August
Full page article in the Observer newspaper on the subject of arms sales to Yemen.
In many previous posts we have drawn attention to the war in Yemen which receives far less coverage than events in Syria. In particular, we have drawn attention to the role of the UK government in supporting the Saudis with weapons, political cover and providing – quite shamefully – British service personnel to advise them on the military activities. We wrote last year to our local MP John Glen who replied with a bland letter from a Foreign Office minister, Tobias Ellwood which began to unwind in the following weeks.
We have also highlighted the role of British arms suppliers and the many billions of pounds of weaponry which has gone to the Saudis to enable them to continue the bombing campaign in Yemen. Bombing has been indiscriminate and hospitals; mosques; weddings and schools have been targeted.
The FCO has now admitted that its responses have been less than honest in a statement slipped out on the last day of parliament. The claim that human rights law was not being breached is now no longer claimed only that they were not being assessed.
So our involvement in the Yemen conflict has been shameful in the extreme and the fact that Britain is profiting from it as well only makes matters worse. The government has been lucky in the world has been distracted by Syria and Yemen only appears in the news now and again with little sign of media traction.
A leader article in the Guardian on 18 August, set out again many of the points it and others have been making over the last year or so. It points out that we have licensed £3.3bn (yes that’s BILLION) of weapon sales to Saudi over the past year alone according to the Campaign Against the Arms Trade. The cost to the Yemenis has been immense with 6,500 dead and 2.5 million displaced. Save the Children point out that one in three of under-fives suffers malnutrition. The World Bank; UN and EU agencies estimate £14bn of damage to the economy. And so on and so on. We and the US are the main culprits in terms of support and arms sales yet there is no sign of an end to the conflict. The Saudis are apparently pretty hopeless in their bombing activities despite the help they get from our service personnel.
But – there is a glimmer of good news with CAAT winning the right to a judicial review of arms sales to Saudi Arabia. The government has resisted this naturally enough but CAAT has won through.
The UK government – with the USA – has helped support terrible humanitarian and economic damage on this country. It has behaved less than honestly. When and if the conflict ends there will be need to carry out massive reconstruction. Once again we have been involved in destabilising a country with little thought to the aftermath. Parliamentary scrutiny has been lamentable.