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‘Boris Johnson needs to realize threshold in Yemen crossed long ago, and UK partly to blame’

‘Boris Johnson needs to realize threshold in Yemen crossed long ago, and UK partly to blame’
Yemen is a humanitarian black hole, and the UK is partially responsible. When Britain arms Saudi Arabia, it automatically loses the claim to be a pillar of democracy and human rights, says Dr. Riaz Karim, Director of Veritas Institute for Strategic Studies.

According to the latest report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, almost 50 percent of UK weapons' exports goes to Saudi Arabia. This means Saudi Arabia makes up the largest share of British arms sales.

Since the war in Yemen started, the UK has sold over £3.3 billion in weapons to Saudi Arabia. This includes £2.2 billion worth of warplanes, helicopters, and drones. In other words, Saudi Arabia has twice as many UK-made warplanes than the Royal Air Force.

“The Saudi Arabia-led military coalition in Yemen used internationally banned cluster munitions and other weapons obtained from the USA, the UK and other states in indiscriminate attacks on areas controlled by the Houthis and their allies, in which civilians were killed,” reads a newly released report by Amnesty International.

Despite the multiple accusations of fueling the Yemen crisis by selling arms to the Saudi Arabia, the country's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson says the UK will remain supportive of Saudi Arabia.

RT: Britain continues to be one of the world’s top arms suppliers to Saudi Arabia, and Boris Johnson says the so-called threshold for refusal of arms sales has not yet been reached. What shall happen for Mr. Johnson to realize that the threshold was reached?

Dr. Riaz Karim: The first thing Boris Johnson needs to do is to tell the world – where is that threshold. Because he keeps on talking about the threshold but he never tells where the fine line is between killing people and collateral damage. The last time we heard him, he said: “we are just barely on the legal side.” What does that mean? It is easy to say that stuff. But HRW, Amnesty International - all of these people have been screaming from the rooftops that we have crossed the threshold a long time ago. So, he needs to be very clear where the threshold is for the rest of us to understand exactly what he is talking about.

Aamer Anwar, human rights lawyer: “UK Tory government licensed £2.8 billion in arms to the Saudi Arabians: and it is not just Paveway guided missiles, but also Eurofighter Typhoon bombers, the Tornado bombers when we have consistently - every month and every week, every day, human rights groups around the world talking about the bombings, about the genocide and the international war crimes being committed in Yemen.”

RT: Does the UK prioritize financial benefit over human suffering?

RK: If you look at the UK, we sort of have a big hypocrisy going on. On one side, we are saying that we are the pillars of democracy and human rights. And on the flip side of that coin, you are actually arming Saudi Arabia which is not only the most repressive regime in the world, but it is also the largest exporter of terrorism in the world. When you do that, you automatically lose that claim that you are the pillar of democracy and human rights... The reality remains that being the pillar of democracy and human rights has gone way back. We are not even close to that anymore because when you look at Saudi Arabia, it is not only Saudi Arabia, but we are talking about repressive regimes like Zimbabwe, like Israel, they are all getting arms from the UK. And 48 percent of Britain’s arms pretty much go to Saudi Arabia. Can you imagine how much chaos Saudi Arabia is causing out there?…This hypocrisy has to completely go. And especially now the downturn of Brexit is even giving us more power to go and make deals with the Middle East repressive nations and the autocrats to sell more arms because somehow they are going to have to make it up for it.

RT: How do you assess the current humanitarian situation in Yemen?

RK: …I can tell you categorically that Yemen is a humanitarian black hole. What Saudi Arabia is doing in there with its allies like the US and the UK, France is that they are using the scorched-earth strategy. There is so much destruction everywhere…food is being used as a weapon of war. It is absolutely inhumane; they are absolutely on the brink of collapsing. It is that bad. And when I say that, it probably doesn’t hold that much weight. But I can tell you the situation in Yemen is absolutely dire at this point. And we [the UK] are partially responsible for that.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.