Saturday, February 18, 2017
‘Continued UK arms sales to Saudis is outrageous act’
Despite thousands of civilians killed in Yemen by the Saudi-led coalition, the UK is continuing to supply the Saudis with arms – a fundamentally wrong policy that the British people will not benefit from, says Bahraini political activist Saeed al-Shehabi.
The British government is facing a landmark court case. Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) is taking legal action in an attempt to stop the UK from selling weapons to Saudi Arabia.
RT: The High Court began this week its three-day judicial review of the UK's weapons sales to Saudi Arabia. How likely is it that we will see a full suspension of arms sales to Riyadh?
Saeed al-Shehabi: The media, especially the Western media, has not given it enough exposure. Now that the case against the British government has come to the court, I’m not sure whether the court will rule in favor of CAAT which brought the case. It is an outrageous act by the British government to continue supplying the Saudis with those weapons, knowing that more than 15,000 people have been killed, at least 5,000 civilians, including probably 2,000 children. Families live in Yemen now, because of the air, sea, and land blockade; nothing can get through this blockade to the people.
That is a humanitarian catastrophe, the situation that has been ignored by the world. Whether the court would rule against the government – I am not sure. But there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the Saudis have broken the international humanitarian laws, and that they have committed war crimes on an enormous scale.
Every day there is a family that has been targeted – five people, 10 people of the same family – which represent no viable military target…
RT: Why has it taken so long to come to court? The humanitarian disaster in Yemen has been ongoing for almost two years now.
SS: CAAT has taken the case about a year ago, but of course there is a lot of delay in that. Even the UN last year said that crimes against humanity or war crimes have been committed. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch – all these organizations have gone to the field and established beyond any reasonable doubt that war crimes were committed at the largest scale.
Yet, the British government continues to supply it, and they have insisted, come forward. Even when Theresa May went to Manama [in December] to attend the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] Summit she was not repentant about supplying the Saudis with arms. It is likely that she will continue to do so. Unfortunately the British government is adopting the wrong policy, at the wrong time, in the wrong place. I don’t think that British people are going to benefit from this policy.