from the as-if-we-hadn't-guessed dept.
After repeated claims that Britain's reloading of the Saudi Arabian Royal Air Force's bomb bays does not mean Britain is at war with Yemen – where its ordnance are dropped – the government finally conceded that it is.
In a tense exchange with parliamentarians in a debate on the British sale of arms to Saudi Arabia, Alan Duncan, the government's Special Envoy to Yemen, said: "We are in conflict for a reason".
Duncan's admission officially confirms of what every sensible person has known since March 2015, when Saudi Arabia intervened in Yemen's civil war with an air campaign made possible by British planes and British bombs, and for which UK arms companies made £2.8bn in revenues in the first year alone.
To use the words of the UN envoy to Yemen, the "humanitarian catastrophe" precipitated by the Arab world's richest country bombing its poorest has been almost total.
[...] while NGOs and MPs in several parliamentary committees have been sharp in their criticism of the government for continuing to fuel this war, the government does nothing, meekly claiming over and over again there is no evidence of Saudi war crimes in Yemen and that Britain regularly "seeks assurances" from Saudi Arabia that it is not committing those crimes.
In March, the UK director of Human Rights Watch told the arms export control committee that he has personally handed evidence to the Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, complete with GPS coordinates, of Saudi air strikes on civilian targets. This month Amnesty International sent photographs of British-made BL-755 cluster bombs partially exploded in recent months discovered in farmland near the village of al-Khadhra in northern Yemen.
[...] The government is wriggling because, under Britain's own arms export laws, it is illegal for it to sell arms to a state that is at a "clear risk" of committing international humanitarian crimes. Acknowledging the chorus of evidence of Saudi war crimes in Yemen would be tantamount to admitting Britain's complicity in them.
The truth is that the arms trade of a handful of private arms companies with Saudi Arabia is simply off limits to our country's democratic apparatus as well as its civil society.
Source: The Independent
Ahead of the US president's visit to Saudi Arabia, a series of multi-billion-dollar arms deals have been outlined. The previous US administration suspended some supplies because of human rights concerns.
When President Trump arrives in Riyadh this week, he will lay out his vision for a new regional security architecture White House officials call an “Arab NATO,” to guide the fight against terrorism and push back against Iran. As a cornerstone of the plan, Trump will also announce one of the largest arms-sales deals in history.
Behind the scenes, the Trump administration and Saudi Arabia have been conducting extensive negotiations, led by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The discussions began shortly after the presidential election, when Mohammed, known in Washington as “MBS,” sent a delegation to meet with Kushner and other Trump officials at Trump Tower.
After years of disillusionment with the Obama administration, the Saudi leadership was eager to do business. “They were willing to make a bet on Trump and on America,” a senior White House official said.
[...] The most concrete part of the idea is a mammoth U.S. arms package for Saudi Arabia that Trump will also announce in Riyadh. Final details are still being worked out, but officials said the package will include between $98 billion and $128 billion in arms sales. Over 10 years, total sales could reach $350 billion.
The sales include huge upgrades for the Saudi army and navy to include Littoral Combat Ships, THAAD missile defense systems, armored personnel carriers, missiles, bombs and munitions, officials said. Some of the production and assembly could be located in Saudi Arabia, boosting MBS’s project to build a Saudi domestic defense industrial capability. But most of the items would be built by American defense contractors.
The High Court in London ruled that British arms sales to Saudi Arabia may continue.
The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) had sought an order to block export licences for British-made fighter jets, bombs and other munitions which it said the Saudi-led Arab coalition was using in a campaign against Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen's civil war.
[...] "Saudi Arabia has been, and remains, genuinely committed to compliance with International Humanitarian Law; and there was no 'real risk' that there might be 'serious violations' of International Humanitarian Law (in its various manifestations) such that UK arm sales to Saudi Arabia should be suspended or cancelled," the court said.
[...] CAAT said it would appeal against the decision, and the leader of the opposition Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn, heavily criticised the government for its trade with Saudi Arabia.
"The government continues to sell arms to Saudi Arabia, one of the most oppressive and brutal regimes, that finances terrorism and is breaching humanitarian law," Corbyn said.