'Khashoggi's murder is dreadful act, but weapon sales to Saudis should be stopped because of Yemen'
While condemning the cover-up of journalist Jamal Khashoggi's murder, Donald Trump stressed the economic importance of continued weapons sales to Riyadh. Canada's PM, Justin Trudeau, said it is too complicated to get out of the arms deals with Saudi Arabia. When French President Emmanuel Macron was asked about his intentions, he refused to answer the question. But Germany wants other countries to follow its example and halt the arms sales.
RT: What do you make of the reaction we've heard internationally to calls for the cancelation of these huge arms contracts? There is no surprise that many countries have got huge amounts of money involved. They are just saying 'no, we are not going to cancel these contracts'.
Charles Shoebridge: You are right. There is no surprise whatsoever, and also there will be no surprise, notwithstanding, as we've heard in the Spanish and the Canadian case blaming previous governments for entering into these arms contracts, we can also expect these current governments to do exactly the same. Because these contracts are worth vast sums of money. What is interesting is that today, since Khashoggi was killed in the way that he was, the emphasis has been on we should punish Saudi Arabia by canceling these arms contracts or stop having arms contracts with Saudi Arabia because they killed this journalist… But [a] far more important reason …is the consideration what these weapons are going to be used for. And in effect, in a very large number of cases these weapons, particularly aircraft bombs and shells are being used to carry out war crimes and human rights violations. And that is extremely well documented. And here we are talking particularly about the situation in Yemen. And Britain and the US are entirely complicit in that situation. And that long preceded, all the way back to 2015 and arguably earlier, this dreadful killing. People are understandable in [their want] to take the advantage of the Khashoggi situation to further raise these issues. But they should be mentioning what actually happened in Yemen, what these weapons are being used for and largely they are being used to kill civilians.
RT: Why do you think it receives so little attention? There is very little call for action. When Yemen is discussed, it is always looking at the horror of Yemen, but very little about the blame of who supplies what. Why do you think it is like that and why do you think it doesn't seem to change?
CH: We occasionally see headlines in the West – the US and UK media – saying 'Yemen, the forgotten war'. They neglect to mention that reason it is forgotten is because the media themselves have chosen not to report it. And it must have been a choice not to report it because almost universally amongst the mainstream US and UK media, there has been, if not a blackout, certainly very limited coverage of the atrocities that are occurring there – not just from the bombing campaign itself, although that has killed thousands of civilians. Let's not forget that even independent bodies such as the UN and others have reported that up to 40 percent of all military strikes by the Saudi-led alliance in Yemen are against civilian targets. That is a colossal figure. The coverage of that plus the blockade which is exacerbating and – many would argue – creating the situation of famine that is going to affect millions of people in Yemen itself and killing many people arguably more than the bombing itself. All of this is created by a Saudi coalition and certainly worsened by them, in which the US and UK and other Western parties providing weapons refueling, logistics, intelligence support to the Saudi alliance are complicit in. And of course, it has had very little coverage compared to the coverage, for example, of alleged crimes by what might be called 'US/UK enemies' such as Syria, alleged crimes by Russia in killing civilians in Syria.
In any military campaign, unfortunately, civilian deaths will occur. But …the degree to which they are occurring in Yemen is much greater as a proportion of casualties than we've seen in Syria. And yet, despite the fact or arguably because of the fact of British and American involvement in those deaths and in that suffering, of course it is received relatively little coverage in the US and UK media. Now, to some degree, with Khashoggi's killing, in respect to him being a very famous and prominent Western journalist, that is now being used, increasingly in the US and UK media, only for last few weeks, as now a weapon to beat Saudi Arabia with. But it is very late in the day: for three years this war has been raging and these weapons have been used in this immoral and illegal way, and yet Britain and America have absolutely continued to supply them. In fact, the supplies are increasing.
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