Now if only the European Parliment would also resolve to stop member countries from invading Syria through proxies and supporting other nations doing the same.
EU criticises British arms sales to Saudi Arabia
Saturday 13 February 2016 - 14.16 EST
Britain sold close to £3bn worth to the kingdom in the last year and is heavily implicated in the Saudi campaign in Yemen
A vote is scheduled for later this month on a resolution calling for an EU-wide arms embargo on sales to Saudi Arabia but that also specifically criticises the UK.
The UK government has supplied export licences for close to £3bn worth of arms to Saudi Arabia in the past year and has even been accused of being involved in the conduct of the Saudi military campaign in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia began bombing Yemen last March in an attempt to push back rebels loosely backed by Iran who have managed to take control of the capital, Sana’a, and force the country’s Saudi-supported president to flee.
Earlier this month the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, made an unexpected intervention, suggesting countries including the UK had a duty to stop the flow of weapons to Riyadh-led forces.
Britain has denied allegations that it has influence over the Saudi targeting of bombs in Yemen but admits to being involved in training some of the pilots involved in the airstrikes.
The European parliament’s resolution condemning Britain’s involvement, on which a vote is due to be held on 25 February, states that the parliament “strongly criticises the intensive arms trade of EU member states with various countries in the region, as in the case of the UK, Spain, France and Germany; calls for an immediate suspension of arms transfers and military support to Saudi Arabia and to its coalition partners.”
It adds: “Saudi Arabia is the UK’s largest customer for weapons and the UK is the biggest supplier of weapons to Gulf Cooperation Council countries.”
An amendment to the resolution, tabled by Labour MEP Richard Howitt, also calls for the imposition of an EU-wide arms embargo against Saudi Arabia.
MEPs in support of the move believe that passing such motions would be an important step in bringing the bloodshed in Yemen to an end.
Alyn Smith, an SNP MEP supporting the resolution and amendment, said that there was still a chance that the scheduled vote would not go ahead and it required support from both the socialist and democratic groups of MEPs in the parliament, who are meeting this week to discuss the issue.
However he added that he believed that if the vote were to be held, it would “certainly” be passed. “We are determined to drag this issue kicking and screaming into the daylight,” he said.
A petition in support of the resolution has been set up by the campaign group Avaaz. Danny Auron, Avaaz’s campaign director said “British weapons are being used by Saudi Arabia to bomb children in schools and patients in hospitals.
“The government has so far ignored calls to end this lethal trade but today hundreds of thousands of people across the world are calling on the EU to bring in an arms embargo across the continent and stop countries like Britain making a killing off these killings.”
Earlier this month an all-party international development select committee in the Commons called for an immediate suspension of UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia, and an international independent inquiry into the kingdom’s military campaign in Yemen.
A UN report has claimed Saudi Arabia is involved in breaches of humanitarian law in Yemen and the committee said it had heard reliable evidence from humanitarian organisations including the head of Unicef Yemen that the Saudi-led coalition was involved in actions that risked civilian deaths and breached humanitarian law.