UK’s Double standard and Saudi Arabia’s money
According to a new investigation by Declassified UK, Britain has been “complicit” in the devastating Saudi led sea blockade of Yemen. The Saudi-led coalition received British training on naval tactics that are said to have been used to blockade Yemen, an embargo which UN experts have described as “unlawful”.
The Royal Navy’s role in the world’s worst humanitarian disaster since the Second World War and the full extent of the training provided by the UK to the Saudis and their allies, came to light following freedom of information requests by Declassified. The website, which monitors British military influence around the world, found extensive evidence of UK support for the Saudi-led sea blockade of Yemen.
Also despite reports of the terrible destruction inflicted on Yemen by the Saudi-led coalition, the UK ignored warnings from the Red Cross and Save the Children to continue training naval officers in the UAE, a key ally of Riyadh in its Yemen offensive. An “Exclusive Economic Zone Protection Officer course” (EEZ) is amongst the various training and assistance provided by the British military, uncovered by the investigation, supported by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT).
Since the beginning of the Saudi-led offensive in Yemen in March 2015, the UK has licensed £5.3 billion ($6.6 billion) worth of arms to the kingdom. Surprisingly, Britain has continued to resume the sales of arms to Saudi Arabia just over a year after the court of appeal ruled them unlawful. In a recent written statement, the trade secretary, Liz Truss, said sales would restart after an official review concluded there had been only “isolated incidents” of airstrikes in Yemen that breached humanitarian law.
Andrew Smith, of Campaign Against Arms Trade, said: “The Saudi-led bombardment of Yemen has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, and the government itself admits that UK-made arms have played a central role on the bombing. We will be exploring all options available to challenge it.” The Saudi kingdom’s air force is accused of being responsible for many of the 12,600 deaths in targeted attacks.
The announcement from the international trade secretary for restarting the trade came just a day after the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the UK would introduce a “sanctions regime that will target people who have committed the gravest human rights violations” and that “Global Britain will be an even stronger force for good in the world, in the years ahead”. “Those with blood on their hands won’t be free … to waltz into this country, to buy up property on the Kings Road, do their Christmas shopping in Knightsbridge, or siphon dirty money through British banks,” said Raab. The measures announced by Dominic Raab against individuals in Saudi Arabia, Russia, Myanmar and North Korea include asset freezes and travel bans and represent the first time the UK will alone name and penalise individuals and organisations accused of human rights abuse. The measures came into force immediately.
However, it seems that the decisions Britain make are so contradictory. According to Independent, a day after publicly criticising Saudi human rights abuses and targeting it for sanctions, the UK government privately showered Saudi Arabia’s government with praise. The call was not publicised by the British government in the UK, but Saudi Arabia’s state-run news agency used the opportunity to boast about it in a press statement. “His Royal Highness Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Minister of Defense, received yesterday a phone call from His Excellency British Defence Secretary [sic], Mr Ben Wallace, during which the partnership between the two countries was discussed, especially in the defence field, and the efforts made by the two countries to enhance regional and international security,” according to a statement on the Saudi Press Agency.
Layla Moran, a candidate in the ongoing Liberal Democrat leadership contest, told The Independent: “It looks like the UK government took action against Saudi individuals one day, then called to apologise privately the next.