The decision taken by the new Biden administration only days ago to suspend military hardware sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) pending a review of US relationships with all Gulf states and particularly a reassessment of US arms sales being used by the Saudi led coalition to commit human rights abuses and war crimes in its conduct of the six year war in Yemen is both welcome to all those committed to human rights and peace across the world and deeply embarrassing to Boris Johnson and his band of bloodthirsty hounds in his cabinet who have persisted in shameful arms exports to Saudi Arabia and the UAE despite High Court instructions to suspend them because they were in breach of international human rights laws and therefore illegal.
Indeed Boris Johnson himself personally displayed his blatant disregard for international law and the upholding of human rights in Yemen when he took the decision as Foreign Secretary to sanction sales of British bomb parts to Saudi Arabia only days after the Saudi air force bombed a potato factory in Yemen which killed fourteen civilians in serious contravention of international law in relation to targeting of food production targets and endangering the lives of civilians unnecessarily. A day after this dodgy sale was approved by Johnson the Saudis bombed a village school in the Sa’ada province of Yemen and at least ten children were killed and twenty-eight were injured.
Yemen Greatest Humanitarian Disaster on the Planet
During the course of the six-year war in Yemen a torrent of disasters has engulfed the already poverty-stricken nation leading the United Nations to declare it the biggest humanitarian disaster on the planet. That was in 2017:
“In 2017, Yemen was declared the world’s largest humanitarian disaster by the United Nations (UN). According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) at the time, “An estimated 80 percent of the population — 24 million people — require some form of humanitarian or protection assistance, including 14.3 million who are in acute need. Severity of needs is deepening, with the number of people in acute need a staggering 27 percent higher than last year. Two-thirds of all districts in the country are already pre-famine, and one-third face a convergence of multiple acute vulnerabilities”.
– Source here.
Since then, the death toll from bombs, disease, malnutrition, and lack of access to medical care and supplies has amounted to over 250,000 but the displacement of over 25 million citizens, continued conflict and air strikes, inability to open essential aid supply lines and the collapse of the Yemeni economy has resulted in an already disastrous situation getting even worse. The World Food Programme reported in October last year that two thirds of Yemen’s population, over 20 million people, are in desperate need of food aid while hundreds of thousands of children are acutely malnourished and the whole nation is on the brink of a famine.
In the same month, the Swedish International Development Agency issued a chilling statement:
“The plight of Yemen is a triple man-made tragedy (conflict, looming famine, outbreak of cholera) and directly linked to the ongoing conflict… Prior to the crisis, almost half of the Yemeni population already lived below the poverty line, with a high rate of unemployment and the basic social services on the verge of collapse. Violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law are reportedly widespread, in addition to a long history of food insecurity, malnutrition, and lack of access to water, sanitation and poor healthcare” .
– Source here.
Where is Media Exposure of UK’s Blood-Soaked Arms Deals with Saudi Arabia?
Mainstream western media would rather we concerned ourselves with the perceived threat of China to our liberty and how Russia deals with millionaire backed Alexander Navalny while ignoring the glaring hypocrisy of criticising Russia for imprisoning an alleged dissident at the same time as Julian Assange continues to suffer behind prison bars at Belmarsh high security jail. What the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and other mainstream glove puppets won’t do is expose the rancid relationship between the Tory government in the UK and the repressive Saudi Arabia regime notorious for denying basic human rights to its own subjects while committing regular human rights abuses and war crimes in Yemen.
Many rightly condemned Saudi Arabia for the state organised assassination of Jamal Khashoggi after the UN Report which linked the regime inextricably to the crime but trade continued unaffected. Yet surely evidence of Saudi and UAE complicity in the unlawful killings of thousands of civilians and children in Yemen from unlawful airstrikes and indiscriminate artillery attacks would make even those with the coldest of hearts pause and withdraw from trade in weapons of destruction? Not the US up until days ago and not the UK at all.
The reason Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary turned a blind eye to unlawful Saudi and UAE led attacks in Yemen and why he continues to ignore the blatant disregard for international law and humanitarian concerns while the Prime Minister is arms sales are more important to him and his principle free rodents in office than the lives of innocent men, women, and children in Yemen.
Since the outbreak of the conflict in 2015 his government has permitted licenced sales of deadly military equipment to the tune of £6.5 billion to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. These blood-soaked contracts were temporarily halted by the High Court in London when evidence of the complicity of the Tory government with human rights abuses and illegality convinced them to intervene. But within a year the immoral sales were resumed under pressure from the multi-billion pound arms manufacturing companies who donate vast sums to the Tories. Donations and gifts in excess of £130 million buys a lot of influence.
US Suspension of Arms Deals Must Embarrass UK to Follow Suit
The US decision to suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE is undoubtedly embarrassing to the UK as they are second only to America in arms sales volume and value to these two regimes, but it could get worse if the suspension to permit a full review of the deals signed by the Trump administration leads to a more fundamental and permanent cessation. Remember both the Senate and House of Representative in unprecedented bi-partisan moves had already voted to suspend US arms deals with both those regimes but Trump used his Presidential veto to overturn those votes ignoring the war crime and human rights abuse concerns so the comments from the new US secretary of state, Tony Blinken, in confirming the arms sales review, are very interesting:
Britain could be left isolated in the world and exposed as the hypocrite it is when it comes to pontifications about human rights and war crimes internationally. The European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in 2018 to suspend arms sales with Saudi Arabia and the UAE , although that decision was prompted more by the single death of Jamal Khashoggi than the thousands of deaths of innocent Yemeni civilians, and Germany has respected that decision while the UK ignored it.
Earlier this month the UK was further exposed for its murky and integrity free dealings when it was forced to admit that it is not only exporting billions of pounds worth of deadly weapons to Saudi Arabia it is also spending millions of taxpayers money through hush hush funds to try and get the Saudi regime to comply with international humanitarian laws making a total mockery of claims that it is unaware of Saudi war crimes in Yemen. The same Tory government that is not willing to spend enough money to feed hungry children in England by extending access to free school meals over holiday periods is willing to spend millions of pounds to facilitate the indiscriminate killing of poor and starving children in Yemen.
The United States have a very poor record in relation to respect for international laws in their dealings with other countries but on this question of arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE they are embarrassing the UK. Johnson and his Tory gangsters must listen to international outrage and stop arming Said Arabia and the UAE.