UK Ignores Human Rights Abuses by Saudi Arabia

Seven years since the beginning of Saudi-led offensives in Yemen, the UK has maintained a broad alliance with the kingdom. The UK government’s arms export to the Saudi regime has been billions of pounds worth. Britain needs Saudi’s oil, thus the UK officials have overlooked humanitarian breaches by the oil-rich consumer of its armaments.

Ex-Labour Leader Called for Ending Arms Export to Saudi Arabia

The former Labour leader has recently requested Westminster to bring an end to the UK arms export to Saudi Arabia. Jeremy Corbyn has said the UK arms are waging the devastating bombardment in Yemen, where people flee famine and desperation. That was not the first time Corbyn has spoken out against the UK arms export to Saudi Arabia.

In 2019, the then-leader of the Labour party had condemned the UK government for selling arms to Saudi Arabia. He had asked the UK government to stop arms export to the Saudi regime. Corbyn had said Saudi Arabia committed war crimes in Yemen, nevertheless, the Conservative government saw selling arms as an opportunity. The Saudi-led campaign started bombing Yemen in 2015 to oust the Houthis who hold much of the country. Saudi Arabia has been using British-made military equipment and other equipment in the ongoing conflict in Yemen.

Yemen Has been Bombarded for Seven Years

According to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, over 100,000 people have been killed in the Yemen conflict. Some 85,000 Yemenis have also died because of the ongoing famine caused by the war since 2015. UNICEF has revealed that more than 10,000 children have been killed or injured during the Yemen conflict. As Saudi Arabia has been waging the bloody war in Yemen, Britain has continued arms export to the Saudi regime. In 2018, the then-leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn raised concerns over the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. The UK government had mutual trade opportunities with Saudi Arabia. Corbyn had said British military advisers were directing the war in Yemen while a Saudi-led coalition was conducting military operations. He had accused the UK government because British military advisers advised the Saudis on targeting Yemen in the operation rooms.

Johnson’s Trip Signals Support to Saudi Regime

In early 2022, Corbyn has again accused the UK government of arming and training the Saudi-led war on Yemen. He said that the UK government must end UK arms export to Saudi Arabia. Corbyn has further called for the cancelation of the British PM’s visit to the Saudi regime. But the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has recently visited Saudi Arabia. He has also visited the UAE in hope of convincing both kingdoms to boost oil production. His trip shows how intertwined the UK and those oil-rich countries are. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are two key international partners of the UK. Opponents of the arms trade have said his trip gave this hope that the UK will continue to supply the weapons. The UK arms export has reinforced the capability of the Saudi-led coalition to continue air attacks in Yemen.

British Arms Export Breaks the Arms Trade Treaty

Johnson has faced domestic opposition as the atrocities by Saudi Arabia and the UAE continue in Yemen. A group of lawyers has filed a complaint against Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s leaders. The group submitted a dossier to the Met and the Crown Prosecution Service. The dossier included evidence about civilians who lost their lives because of the Saudi airstrikes. Britain has broken the international Arms Trade Treaty by selling arms to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The UK’s reckless arms export to Saudi Arabia has fueled the deadly conflict in Yemen. States that transfer arms to other countries are subject to international legal accountability. Those states that supply arms to the participants in the Yemen conflict have the responsibility for the humanitarian crisis. Saudi-led coalition has killed many civilians in Yemen but the UK government has put its profit over Yemeni lives.

CAAT Challenged the UK Government

The UK government has supplied bombs, missiles, fighter jets, and military training to the Saudi-led coalition for usage in Yemen. When there is a risk of using weapons in violation of humanitarian law, the UK rules prohibit arms exports. Yet, the UK government protects arms export to Saudi Arabia and the UAE despite the devastating humanitarian crisis in Yemen. The Campaign Against Arms Trade has challenged the UK government’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the Rights Watch UK have joined the Campaign Ag s Trade. The UK Court of ainst Arm Appeal had found that licensing exports of military equipment to the Saudi regime was unlawful. However, the UK government resumed arms export in 2020 and claimed violations of international humanitarian law were only isolated incidents. CAAT has filed a judicial review application to investigate the legality of the UK government’s measure.

Britain Sold £20 Million Armaments to Saudis in 5 Years

The Campaign Against Arms Trade seeks to press the UK government to end the arms export to Saudi Arabia. CAAT has revealed that Britain has sold £20 billion of military equipment and services to Saudis between 2015 and 2021. Meanwhile, Saudis were violating international humanitarian law by committing war crimes in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia has a dire record of human rights and civil liberties. Yet, the UK government has licensed arms export to the kingdom. The recent mass execution of 81 people is a fresh instance of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record. The Saudi regime savagely murdered a Saudi journalist at its embassy in Turkey. That murder prompted calls for a reconsideration of Western states’ alliance with Saudi Arabia. The UK has overlooked Saudi Arabia’s war crimes and human rights abuses by selling arms and buying cheap oil.

Yemen on the Brink of Human Catastrophe

Britain, the United States, and several EU states need Saudi oil and money. Through the seven years of ongoing inhumane atrocity in Yemen, they have been complicit in the conflict by transferring armaments. 26 March 2022 marked the seventh anniversary of the beginning of attacks on Yemen led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Since the beginning of the conflict, the coalition has conducted 800 airstrikes and 700 ground offensives in Yemen. Most of the catastrophic attacks would not be possible without European armaments. United Nations has said more than 20 million Yemenis are in need of humanitarian aid. The assault upon Yemen has devastated critical infrastructure across the country and must end to prevent more loss of lives. Millions of people are at risk of starvation and displacement as a result of the conflict.


Seven years into the Saudi bombing of Yemen, the UK PM has paid a visit to Saudi Arabia. Peace activists regard this trip as greenlighting more arms export to Saudi Arabia. The UK arms export to Saudi Arabia from 2015 to 2021 was over 20 billion pounds. British-made armaments alongside the other equipment have empowered the Saudi-led coalition to bomb Yemen.

Air attacks and ground offensives have claimed thousands of lives and demolished infrastructure in Yemen. Britain has broken the law by arms export to Saudi Arabia that fuelled the Yemen conflict. The anti-war activists must confront the UK government’s key role in the massacre. The UK government ignores human rights abuses and war crimes of the Saudis. Saudi Arabia has a significant role in the international energy market and the UK needs the oil. The UK government is earning a lot of money from arms export.

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