UK arms sales to Saudi for use in Yemen ruled unlawful

In the last few minutes the Court of Appeal has ruled that UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen are unlawful.

Activists celebrate the Court judgment ruling arms sales to Saudi unlawful
Activists celebrate outside the Royal Courts of Justice as the verdict is announced.
Credit: Darren Johnson

The Court of Appeal concluded that it was ‘irrational and therefore unlawful’ for the Secretary of State for International Trade to have granted licences without making any assessment as to whether violations of international humanitarian law had taken place.

This historic judgment means that the government must now stop issuing new arms exports licences, and retake all decisions to export arms to Saudi in accordance with the law.

We celebrate this historic verdict. But these weapons sales should never have been licensed in the first place. It should not take a group of campaigners taking the Government to court to force it to apply its own rules.

It shouldn’t take four years of schools, hospitals, weddings, and funerals being bombed. It should not take tens of thousands of deaths and the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.

We must also question a system – and the priorities of government – that have allowed the continuing provision of arms in these circumstances.

CAAT Media Coordinator Andrew Smith is interviewed outside the Court of Appeal following the verdict. Credit: Darren Johnson

This isn’t the end.

The government is likely to continue to fight this decision, even now. So now is the time to ramp up the pressure and make sure they finally prioritise human lives over arms trade profits.

Email your MP today to demand an immediate end to arms sales to Saudi Arabia and UK support for war in Yemen. #StopArmingSaudi

A view from inside the UK’s biggest arms company

Photo by Alan Wilson.

Every year, CAAT activists attend the Annual General Meeting of the UK’s biggest arms company, BAE Systems. We do this so that we can challenge the Board face to face and expose the hypocrisy and greed at the heart of the arms trade. One campaigner who attended this year was Arabian activist, Ameen Nemer. Here he reflects on his reasons for going and how he found the experience.

I attended because I wanted to provide a voice for Arabian people. The absolute monarch does not represent the people in Arabia. The House of Saud tries to kidnap our voices. BAE has fallen for the propaganda and presents the regime as a liberating force. I attended so that I could tell the Board and shareholders about what is really happening to my people and land.

I am sure the BAE AGM will be happy not to have that voice which reminds them of the dirty job they are doing. No matter how nice they present themselves using polite language and advance technology, criminals are still criminals. They need to be exposed, and CAAT is doing a great job.

Shareholders got to direct questions to BAE’s Chair, Roger Carr. He was obviously well-briefed and had prepared answers for questions about the bombing in Yemen. His words may have been delivered with confidence, but they were morally bankrupt.

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Wars, occupation, oppression, and corruption fuel a surging Middle East arms race

New SIPRI arms transfers data shows small overall increase in global trade, but huge increase in sales to the Middle East.

Graphic showing map of states in the Middle East with bubbles for each country indicating level of arms imports. Heading: Arms imports by states in the Middle East. Subheading: The volume of arms imports in SIPRI trend-indicator values is depicted by the size of the circle. 2014-2018. Source: SIPRI Arms Transfers Database. Copyright SIPRI 2019.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) yesterday releasedits latest data on the global arms trade, for which it is by far the best source. The data provides details of deliveries of major conventional weapons worldwide from 1950-2018, both in numerical terms and with searchable lists of the actual weapons transferred between countries. The information can be found in SIPRI’s database, and some of the key points are discussed in a fact sheet also published yesterday.

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Saudi-British relations: silenced oppressions & complicity

Photo by Ryan Ashcroft

Last month CAAT and the CAAT Universities Network co-hosted a very important meeting at the School of Oirental and African Studies, London.

The murder of Jamal Khashoggi’s has put the UK-Saudi relationship under more scrutiny than ever before. Unfortunately there has been more scrutiny of his murder than of the death and destruction that Saudi forces have inflicted on Yemen, and of the ongoing human rights abuses for those living and working in Saudi Arabia and those affected by Saudi Arabia’s international policies. On the 19th November, we co-hosted an event on ‘Saudi-British relations: silenced oppressions & complicity’.

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“AngloArabia” – talk by David Wearing, hosted by London CAAT

 

David Wearing points to Bahrain on a projected map of the Middle East
David Wearing discusses the links between Britain, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain

Earlier this month author David Wearing spoke in London on Britain’s military and economic support for Saudi Arabia, and the UK connection with the war in Yemen.

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#SaudiPrinceNotWelcome – Our Open Letter

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, principal architect of the war on Yemen which has devastated the country and caused what the UN has called a “humanitarian catastrophe”, has been invited to the UK. On 25th January, Lucie Kinchin from CAAT joined with representatives from other NGOs and human rights organisations to hand in an open letter to say he is not welcome here.

Protesters outside Downing Street
Demonstrators outside Downing Street

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Free Raif Badawi, Stop Arming Saudi Repression

January 9th marked three years since imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi was flogged by the Saudi Arabian state. CAAT joined English PEN, Reporters Without Borders and Amnesty International at a vigil outside the Saudi embassy. We demanded Raif’s immediate release and an end to arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Protesters stand outside the Saudi embassy. They hold placards that read, “Free Raif”, “Free Waleed”, “Saudi Arabian blogger imprisoned - 1000 lashes - 10 years in prison - #FreeRaif @EnglishPEN” and a large banner that says “#FreeRaif, Stop Arming Saudi Repression”
Protesters hold a banner and #FreeRaif placards outside the Saudi embassy in London.

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Time to act on Yemen

Protesters block a road holding signs saying "Stop Arming Saudi"
Protesters at this year’s DSEI arms fair blocked deliveries of weapons calling for an end to arms sales to Saudi

What is happening in Yemen should be plastered across every UK newspaper, every day. Saudi forces are using UK-supplied weapons to destroy vital civilian infrastructure, including schools, hospitals, water supplies and electrical grids.

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Public opinion is firmly against the arms trade

This September, thousands of people took part in two weeks of effective action against the DSEI arms fair, but we were acting for millions more across the UK. One thing we always have to remember is that public opinion is firmly on our side and that the overwhelming majority of people across the country are appalled by events like DSEI.