Jeremy Hunt Is Lying About Britain’s Role in Yemen
Tens of thousands of Yemenis have been killed in the conflict. Britain’s supply of arms only feeds the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
In a recent Politico article Jeremy Hunt, foreign secretary, has defended the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia and The UAE. Arms that are often used in perpetuating Yemen’s civil war. Hunt claims the UK-Saudi relationship ‘Helps us influence their leaders’ toward peaceful resolution. In reality, Britain’s supply of arms only feeds the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
The multi Billion pound Al Yamamah (The Dove) arms deal provides Saudi Arabia with 25% of its arms imports for use fighting Houthi forces in Yemen. As the second largest arms supplier to the Saudi led coalition Britain is culpable in its infamous war crimes. Such atrocities have included bombing a wedding party killing 20 civilians; bombing a funeral killing 140 civilians and wounding 600 more; and even an air attack on a school bus leaving 40 Yemeni children dead. British firm BAE systems provides the typhoon jets used for this type of air to surface attacks. No wonder that the UK wouldn’t back a UN investigation into Saudi war crimes.
Tens of thousands of Yemenis have been killed in the conflict, and millions more displaced. Combined with mass starvation and a cholera epidemic Yemen is now the site of the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.
The war in Yemen cannot be reduced to a Saudi backed government and a rebel Militia group. Frequently lacking from the conversation surrounding Yemen is the presence of multiple internal belligerents, more than simply the Houthis and Hadi Loyalists. A southern separatist movement based around the city of Aden has been an important player in the civil war, as has Al-Qaeda, and various affiliated organisations. There is even a Daesh presence. The network of treaties, alliances, and secret deals has led to a situation where the US and UK supported coalition has been found to ally itself with Al-Qaeda and Daesh affiliated factions. Hunt claims that the UK has ‘some of the strictest arms control export guidelines in the world.’ Last year an investigation found that Saudi Arabia has been diverting arms from the UK into the hands of terrorist affiliated groups. Once inside the complex Yemeni arena arms are being traded without oversight, German made guns sold to Saudi Arabia, have even been found in the hands of the Houthis they were meant to be used against.
A UN report last year urged the international community to “Refrain from providing arms that could be used in the conflict in Yemen.”
After five years of conflict the possibility of a military resolution to the civil war seems unlikely as Houthis have held key territories, the capital Sanaa and port Hudaydah since 2015. This internationally funded conflict has remained a stale mate, all sides able to fight, none are able to achieve victory. Only a peaceful resolution through dialogue can offer hope. As long as the UK profits from the nightmarish war, it cannot claim to support peace.
What of the ‘special relationship,’ Hunt claims we are buying with our weapons?
He himself is unable to provide a single example of UK diplomacy pressuring Saudi Arabia or any coalition member to pursue peace. Hunt manages only to refer to the peace talks led by UN envoy Martin Griffiths, on the grounds that he is British, despite not working for, or representing Britain in Yemen. Instead of influencing our ‘ally’ British diplomacy has largely been to shield Saudi Arabia from criticism, and warn other countries that their economies would suffer if they stopped providing military support for the war.
In Hunt’s defence the UK does provide some aid for the humanitarian crisis and officially supports UN peace talks. However, any effort the government makes towards a non-violent settlement with remain a thin façade while they are eclipsed by profits from a multibillion arms trade.
Withdrawing British support for the coalition campaign would not, as Hunt states, render us ‘impotent’ in the conflict. Not when the CIA official Bruce Riedel said in 2016 that “if the United States and the United Kingdom, tonight, told King Salman [of Saudi Arabia], ‘This war has to end,’ it would end tomorrow. The Royal Saudi Air Force cannot operate without American and British support.” The US Congress has this month voted to end US Military assistance to Saudi Arabia.
Ending weapons and intelligence supplies to the kingdom would be powerful message to the world that the UK will not condone human rights violations and war crimes, however much we may profit.
Source: Stop the War Coalition