UK sold Saudis £2.8bn in weapons since outbreak of Yemen war - report

© Damir Sagolj
The British government has approved 122 military licenses for weapons and military hardware worth nearly £3 billion since Riyadh began its bombing campaign against Yemen more than a year ago, a hard-hitting report has revealed.

The latest figures compiled by Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) show that in the last three months of 2015 alone the government issued licenses for the export of £7 million worth of arms, including £3 million worth of ML4 licenses that include the export of grenades, bombs and missiles.

The Saudi-led bombing campaign against Yemen has resulted in the deaths of 6,400 people, while hundreds of thousands have been displaced across the country.

A leaked UN report recently condemned the “widespread and systematic” targeting of Yemeni civilians as the Saudis attempt to push the Houthi rebels out of the capital and reinstate the country’s deposed president, Riyadh ally, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.

CAAT’s Andrew Smith said: “Almost 6,000 people have been killed in the Saudi-led bombardment of Yemen. UK-supplied combat aircraft and bombs have been central to the destruction, and yet the arms sales have continued, and so has the government’s support of the Saudi regime.”

A cross-party parliamentary select committee on arms export controls is conducting an inquiry into arms sales to the oil-rich kingdom as well as other Gulf countries. CAAT has meanwhile submitted a claim for judicial review into UK arms sales to the Saudis, calling on the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills to suspend all extant licensees and stop issuing new licenses during the review.

David Wearing, the author of the CAAT report, said: “Successive governments of all political colors have prioritized arms sales over human rights.

“The toxic UK-Saudi alliance has boosted the Saudi regime and lined the pockets of arms companies, but has had devastating consequences for the people of Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

“For the sake of those people, the UK government must finally stop arming and empowering the brutal Saudi monarchy,” he said.