Saturday, February 27, 2021

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Hundreds protest in the UK againt arms sales to Saudi Arabia, UAE

Hundreds of people on Sunday (July 12) gathered in front of the Embassy of the UAE, in central London to call on the British government to end arms sales to the Saudi Kingdom and the UAE.

The protest organized by the Stop the War Coalition took place days after the UK government’s decision to continue arming the Saudi-led coalition.

A statement on Stop the War Coalition’s web site said: “Anti-war campaigners say Saudi-led intervention in Yemen will only compound existing tensions and violence in the crisis-ridden state.”

The anti-war group accuses the Saudi regime of playing a leading role in almost every “anti-democratic development in the Middle East.”

On July 7, Britain announced that it will resume arms sales to Saudi Arabia a year after the court of appeal declared the UK government acted unlawfully by selling arms to the kingdom without first assessing whether they were involved in breaches of international humanitarian law.

Trade Secretary Liz Truss said in a written statement to parliament that an official government review found that airstrikes in Yemen that breached international humanitarian law were only “isolated incidents.”

“The government will now begin the process of clearing the backlog of licence applications for Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners that has built up since 20 June last year,” she said.

Britain is one of Saudi Arabia’s top arms suppliers. Over the past five years, the UK’s top arms manufacturer, BAE Systems, sold Saudi Arabia £15 billion ($18.8 million) worth of arms.

The government review, sparked by the court of appeal’s decisions in June 2019, assessed examples of Saudi airstrikes using British equipment that could have breached international humanitarian law and killed civilians.

The arms and equipment sold to the Saudi Kingdom by the U.K. include air-to-air missiles, aircraft components, sniper rifles, anti-riot gear, ballistic shields and body armour.

Yemen has been beset by violence and chaos since 2014, when Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including the capital Sanaa. The crisis escalated in 2015 when a Saudi-led military coalition launched a devastating air campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi territorial gains.

Tens of thousands of Yemenis, including civilians, are believed to have been killed in the conflict, which has led to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis as millions remain at risk of starvation.

Karim El-Bar, Sibel Uygun

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