Yesterday, the Today programme referred to this horror as a ‘forgotten war’ – but it has never been forgotten by investigative journalists like Felicity Arbuthnot, who has written in detail about the savage air strikes carried out carried out by the Saudi led “coalition”, armed by the US and UK and advised by their military specialists. She indicts the collusion and co-operation of both countries which renders them, “equally culpable for the carnage”, writing:
“This heartbreak, fear and destruction has been rained down in commensurate devastation near every twenty-four hours since March 2015, Saudi Arabia is the lead culprit, but in the “coalition” are also Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait”; we note elsewhere news of Britain’s covert assistance in air surveillance of targets and – it is feared – other ‘special operations’, unsanctioned by and undisclosed to parliament”.
Air strikes that targeted a funeral gathering in the capital of Sana’a on 8 October, killing over 140 mourners and injuring 500 others attending the ceremony, have renewed international condemnation of the UK’s controversial weapons trade with Saudi Arabia.
Theresa May defended the arms sales last month, claiming the UK’s relationship with Saudi Arabia,“helped to keep people on the streets of Britain safe”
Conservative ministers have repeatedly rejected calls for a pause in weapons sales amid frequent reports of war crimes and the Government refused to give MPs a vote on the issue.
The British Government now says it will consider the terms of its lucrative arms exports to Saudi Arabia after its ally admitted responsibility for killing more than 140 mourners and injuring 500 others at a funeral in Yemen.
A few facts:
- A United Nations report on children and armed conflict said the Saudi-led coalition was responsible for 60 per cent of all child causalities – 510 deaths and 667 injuries – in the conflict last year. The UN warned that while international attention has focused on Syria, more than 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen, including at least 4,000 civilians in the past 18 months alone.
- Britain sold £3.3bn worth of arms between April 2015 and March 2016 alone – the first year of the Saudi-led coalition’s deadly bombing campaign in Yemen, where it intervened against Houthi rebels at President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi’s request. Tim Farron, Jeremy Corbyn and Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas are among those calling for trade to be suspended.