Right Now Times : As the war enters Yemen in its fifth year and the number of civilian casualties rises, the UK is under increasing pressure because of its arms exports to Saudi Arabia.
Here are seven questions that highlight the controversy surrounding arms exports to Saudi Arabia.
1- What brings these three countries together?
Right Now Times : The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a rich country, the largest arms importer in the world, and for five years has launched an air campaign aimed at defeating the Houthis in neighboring Yemen; The poorest country in the Arab world, if not the entire world.
It is estimated that Britain is the second largest arms exporter in the world, and according to a report released last year, Britain exported more than 40 percent of its weapons to only one country, Saudi Arabia.
Right Now Times : The United Arab Emirates is considered to be the Saudi partner in the Yemen war. Also a major customer, according to a 2019 British government report that only places the United States ahead of its share in the international arms trade.
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2- What is the situation in Yemen?
Right Now Times : British opposition activists and politicians are wondering about the impact of this lucrative billion-pound trade on Yemen, where the United Nations says it is experiencing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Right Now Times : The United Nations has verified at least 7,700 civilian deaths by March 2020, often due to Saudi-led coalition airstrikes, while estimates of other observation groups are much higher.
According to the US-based Armed Conflict Data Site, 100,000 people were killed by October 2019, including 12,000 civilians in direct attacks.
Right Now Times : About 80 percent of Yemen’s 24 million people need humanitarian assistance and protection.
Right Now Times : An estimated 2 million children suffer from acute malnutrition, including about 360,000 children under the age of five.
3- What does the British government say?
Right Now Times : Last summer, human rights activists achieved a major victory over the British government, stopped exporting arms to Saudi Arabia by order of the judiciary, and forced them to review their policy to consider whether there was a “serious violation” of international law in Yemen.
Almost a year later, the government concluded its assessment to announce that it will resume arms sales.
Right Now Times : “Saudi Arabia has a real intention and ability to comply with international humanitarian law,” said International Trade Secretary Liz Truss, confirming the British government’s view that there were only “isolated incidents.”
Right Now Times : She said in a written statement to the deputies: “The incidents that were evaluated as possible violations of international law occurred at different times and in different circumstances and for different reasons.”
4- What do opponents say?
Right Now Times : Labor MP Emily Thornberry described the government’s decision as “morally indefensible,” saying it “contradicts the position of Britain, which describes itself as a defender of human rights.”
The anti-arms campaign, which sued the court last year, said the decision was a “moral bankruptcy”.
Right Now Times : And Air Wars, a UK-based monitoring group that tracks casualties from air strikes in the Middle East, questioned the British government’s methodology for granting arms export licenses to Saudi Arabia.
The organization said that the statistics of the United Kingdom on its air strikes are very doubtful, let alone the statistics of its ally Saudi Arabia.
Right Now Times : She added: “The rules adopted in Britain to investigate incidents of killing civilians in air strikes are so complex that it is impossible to acknowledge the civilian deaths.”
Right Now Times : The group, a five-year British air war against ISIS, provided evidence of its correctness.
According to British government figures, Britain has carried out 4,400 military operations against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq as part of the US-led coalition.
She said she was responsible for only one civilian injured in these operations.
Right Now Times : The organization estimates that the number of civilian deaths ranges from 8 to 13,000, and Britain’s methodology for registering civilian deaths has been described as “ridiculous.”
5- What is the value of this trade?
Right Now Times : The campaign against the arms trade says the UK has issued 5.3 billion pounds of arms export licenses to Saudi Arabia since 2015 when the Yemen war began.
According to the group, additional arms worth one billion pounds were exported during the same period to Saudi allies in the Gulf who are participating in the Yemen war.
Right Now Times : According to the group, these figures do not include weapons sold under different “open” licenses, nor profits from maintenance and logistical support provided by employees of the British defense giant BAE Systems through its branch in Saudi Arabia.
The campaign estimates that the total value of British arms sales to the Saudi-led coalition since the start of the war is “at least 16 billion pounds” (over $ 20 billion).
These sales include Typhoon and Tornado fighters and precision guided bombs.
Right Now Times : British officials also provide military advice to the alliance, including advice on setting goals and tactics, and training Saudi military personnel in the United Kingdom.
Britain announces the resumption of arms sales to Saudi Arabia
6- Does the UK only sell arms?
Right Now Times : British arms sales to Saudi Arabia are negligible compared to those of its major transatlantic ally.
About 73 percent of Saudi Arabia’s arms imports between 2015 and 2019 came from the United States, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
Britain ranks second in the list of arms suppliers, with a share of 13 percent.
France is ranked third with 4.3 percent.
Right Now Times : And half of the US arms exports over the past five years have gone to the Middle East, and the other half to Saudi Arabia, says Peter Weisman, the Stockholm Institute official.
Donald Trump, Saudi Arabia and its coalition partner, described the United Arab Emirates as “two horses against the malicious activities of Iran and its proxies in the region.”
Right Now Times : It is believed that the Houthi rebels fighting by the Saudi-led coalition forces in Yemen are receiving support from Iran, which Tehran denies.
7 – What does the future look like?
Right Now Times : In an article published in the Financial Times, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Rapp wrote that Britain was trying to achieve peace in Yemen and contribute to humanitarian aid efforts. He called for a ceasefire throughout the country.
He added that Britain, Germany and Sweden jointly pledged an additional amount of 365 million dollars this year to support the work of the United Nations in the country.
Right Now Times : In addition to an unprecedented cholera outbreak, Yemen lives in the shadow of an outbreak of the Coronavirus and only half of the medical facilities are functioning well.
In April, Saudi Arabia announced a unilateral ceasefire due to the Corona virus pandemic. But the Houthis refused, demanding the lifting of the air and sea blockade of the capital, Sanaa, and the coastal city of Hodeidah.
Right Now Times : The stalemate is controlling the situation at the present time, and the United Nations warns that the damage caused by the war may be negligible compared to what is coming.
The organization said the death toll from Coved 19 may “exceed the total number of war, disease and hunger victims over the past five years”.