Committee On Arms Export Controls: British Conceals True Extent Of Arms Exports To Saudi Regime

The real extent of UK-made arms exports to Saudi Arabia can’t be tracked since campaigners believe licences for “less sensitive goods” are being used for hundreds of millions of pounds worth of British missiles and bombs that hit civilian in Yemen.

Human rights groups alleged that the British government hides the true extent of its arms exports to Saudi. Committees on Arms Exports Controls strongly criticised the licence, claiming it would “inescapably reduce the transparency” of UK’s arms exports, the Guardian reported first.

Last week, following news that the Yemeni report of Hodeidah is under siege from by Saudis, a group of anti-war campaigners have written to International Trade Secretary Liam Fox reiterating longstanding calls to suspend UK arms sales to the Gulf states.

On 22 June 2018, Amnesty International reported that the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, backed by the UK and the US, is continuing to impose restrictions on the entry of essential goods into conflict-ravaged Yemen.

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Millions of Yemenis are at risk because food, fuel and medical supplies which are being deliberately delayed on entry to the war-torn country by the Saudi-led coalition.

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“The Saudi Arabia-led coalition must end delays on commercial imports of essential goods destined for Yemen’s Red Sea ports and allow the reopening of Sana’a airport to commercial flights. States providing the coalition support, in particular, the USA, United Kingdom and France, should pressure them to do so,” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director.

According to the Campaign, since the bombing of Yemen began in March 2015, the UK has licensed £4.6 billion worth of arms to the Saudi regime, including £2.7 billion worth of ML10 licences (aircraft, helicopters, drones) and 1.9 billion worth of ML4 licences (grenades, bombs, missiles, countermeasures).

Besides, the Commons committee on arms export controls revealed that during the last five years, the UK has been selling Storm Shadow and Brimstone air-to-surface missiles and Paveway IV bombs to Saudi Arabia under Open Individual Export Licences (OIELs), which are for the export of “less sensitive goods”.

The government has confirmed that all these weapon systems have been used by Saudis in Yemen, where Human Rights Watch has linked British-licensed Paveway IV bombs to attacks on civilian targets.

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: “Open licences remove the need for the seller to obtain prior approval for each export,” he added, “It’s an opaque system which has been used to shift extremely sensitive weaponry to the Saudi regime.”

Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK’s Director, said: “With yet another humanitarian catastrophe looming in Hodeidah, the UK must finally turn off the flow of arms to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.”

“The Saudi coalition’s indiscriminate bombing of Yemeni homes, hospitals, funeral halls, schools and factories has already been utterly appalling – with thousands of Yemeni civilians killed and injured.”

Allen added: “Rather than respond responsibly to the dreadful reality of an out-of-control Saudi-led bombing campaign, ministers have repeated their manta about ‘robust controls’ and relied on a narrow and highly technical legal ruling over the lawfulness of its arms sales to Saudi Arabia.”

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