BRITISH pacifists have called the attack by the US and UK on Houthi targets in Yemen a dangerous and irresponsible escalation in a conflict that threatens to engulf the Middle East. They have accused the UK government of ‘imperial arrogance’ and jeopardising regional and global security.

The Peace Pledge Union (PPU), the UK’s leading pacifist organisation, has condemned the US-UK operation as a reckless step towards a regional war that could embroil Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and other states. The PPU also condemn Houthi attacks on shipping in the Red Sea, which endanger regional security and threaten the lives of shipping crews, whilst making it clear that this in no way justifies the US-UK military response.

Since the start of the war in Israel and Gaza, the UK has had a growing military presence in the region, sending UK forces to the Eastern Mediterranean in support of Israel. The UK is an international outlier, along with the US, in its steadfast support for Israel and refusal to back a ceasefire.

The PPU has accused the UK government of ‘twisted priorities’ and ‘a flagrant disregard for human life and international security’, for refusing to back a ceasefire in Gaza whilst increasing its military activities in the region. They also point out that the attack on Yemen jeopardises another ceasefire, that which has existed between Yemeni Houthis and US-UK ally Saudi Arabia since last year. This threatens to reignite a war that has killed hundreds of thousands of civilians through aerial bombardment, starvation and disease. The PPU has consistently condemned the UK’s close involvement in this conflict, which includes military training and the supply of weapons to Saudi Arabia.

Geoff Tibbs, the PPU’s Remembrance Project Manager, said: “The attack on Yemen stinks of imperial arrogance. Even as Rishi Sunak’s government refuses to back a ceasefire in Gaza, condemning millions of Palestinians to unimaginable horror, they play games with international peace and security. This attack pours fuel on the fire of a now regional war, endangering the lives of Yemenis, who have already suffered so much at the hands of the UK and Saudi Arabia.

“Even on its own terms, this attack won’t achieve security for trade in the Red Sea. There is no military solution to the complex regional situation. The only route to peace and stability is a ceasefire in Israel and Gaza, which the UK government refuses to support. Their priorities are clear. Military adventurism over peace and security, narrow geopolitical interest over people’s lives.”

Since the current escalation in Israel and Palestine began on 7 October, the PPU has joined other peace groups calling for an immediate unconditional ceasefire. They have consistently condemned all violence, including Hamas’ attacks, the Israeli military response, and the systemic violence of the Israeli occupation and blockade of Gaza.

The PPU denounces all forms of war and acts of violence, regardless of who is enacting them. The PPU is the British section of War Resisters’ International, an alliance of pacifist and anti-militarist groups around the world. PPU members and supporters will be among the many thousands attending the national demonstration in London today (13 January) calling for a ceasefire in Israel and Gaza.

* Source: Peace Pledge Union