Campaign group calls on UK government to end arms sales to Saudi Arabia

By agency reporter
June 16, 2015

As the death toll in Yemen passes 2000 and the punishment of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi is upheld, Campaign Against Arms Trade has reiterated its call for the UK to end arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Badawi has been sentenced to ten years in prison and 1000 lashes for blogging. Unfortunately this is only the latest reminder of the Saudi regime’s brutality, says CAAT. Last March saw the introduction of a new 'terrorism' law which treats all atheists and political dissidents as enemies of the state, and this year has seen the doubling of executions.

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against arms Trade said: "The human rights situation in Saudi Arabia is dire. The fact that it is also the world’s largest buyer of UK weapons is a sign of the real hypocrisy at the heart of UK foreign policy. What right does the UK have to talk about human rights and democracy when it’s ministers are directly promoting arms sales to a regime that tortures bloggers?"

During its first four years, the Coalition government continued the UK’s long standing policy by licensing £3.8 billion worth of arms to the regime. This included licences for combat aircraft, components for bombs, weapon sights and tear gas. There is no suggestion that this will change under the new government.

The UK government has not just authorised these sales, says CAAT, it has also promoted them. Ministers have enjoyed a politically intimate relationship with the Saudi rulers, and members of the royal family have been co-opted into promoting arms sales. This was evident last year when Prince Charles used a visit to Saudi Arabia to promote Eurofighter sales for BAE Systems.

"The government is working hand in glove with arms companies like BAE Systems that are profiting from the oppression taking place." said Andrew Smith.

He continued, "With the intensification of the crackdown on dissent, and with the humanitarian catastrophe being unleashed on Yemen, we have to ask, what would it take for the UK to finally stop selling arms to this terrible regime?"

The humanitarian situation in Yemen is deteriorating. As in all wars, civilians are suffering, says CAAT, with the World Health Organisation emphasising that 8.6 million are "in urgent need of medical aid."



Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.