In August 2020, British soldier Ahmed Al-Babati was arrested by military police outside the MoD for protesting against the government’s involvement in the bombing of Yemen. He speaks to Stop the War.

Ahmed al-Babati

What inspired you to take a stand against the War in Yemen?

There are multiple factors that inspired me to take the stand I took, the main one was my religion. As a Muslim I believe that the life I live on earth is a test for the life to come and that every single person will take judgement one day. I asked myself would I be content with dying knowing I was at service to the same people selling arms and supporting the destruction of Yemen. You see I wasn’t comfortable, I felt like a hypocrite for staying silent whilst attending protests (before refusing to serve) and running fundraisers. We were being ignored by the government and that’s when I knew that I had a part to play.

How central to the Saudi-led war is British assistance and involvement?

Britain has not only sold 6 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia but they’re also giving direct support and training to Saudi troops. I was outraged to find out that the RAF were training Saudi pilots to kill innocents and destroy the country I was born in.

What reaction have you had from the general public and those concerned with the war?

I was surprised to see so much support and positive reactions from the public. A lot of people didn’t know what the truth of what was happening in Yemen and the involvement that the Britain had.

How about your fellow servicemen? Do many of them sympathise with your position?

I was even more surprised to see a lot of fellow soldiers that share the same view or respect the stand I took. Obviously, there were people that didn’t within the army but that’s because they misunderstood the point and felt like I disrespected the army. It wasn’t about the army, it was about our government and the foreign policy, it was about making our voices heard.

You were born in Yemen and still have family there. What do they tell you about the state of the country at the moment?

When we were running fundraisers and sending aid to Yemen, we would receive feedback from the people of Yemen. We got surprising responses, where they were so thankful and they appreciated the support that we were giving them but what they wanted is support to end the war more than anything because eventually they want to support themselves and see a future for their children but until the war is ended, they see no hope for Yemen.

Do you have a message for Boris Johnson and the Conservative government who have offered constant support for the war?

The message is simple and that is they’re accountable for the worst humanitarian crisis on the planet and that is what they’ll be known for in the truth of history books. Every time they tuck their child into bed, they should be reminded of the parents that had to tuck their child into a grave.

Lastly, you’re going to be part of the World Says No to War on Yemen Global Online Rally on January 25th, why should people be part of the rally?

I think we owe it to the Yemenis suffering due to our government, we have to be their voice and show our solidarity because if we don’t then we become just as accountable. The saying goes ‘if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor’ and I live by that saying.

Interview by Mayer Wakefield

Click Here to Join the World Says No to War on Yemen Global Rally on 25th Jan.

19 Jan 2021 by Ahmed al-Babati

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