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The New Arab

Activists attempt to stop UK-warplanes delivery to Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has made a multibillion-dollar arms deal with a British defence company [AFP]

Date of publication: 30 January, 2017

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A pair of activists attempted to stop the delivery of warplanes from the UK to Saudi Arabia, which has been conducting airstrikes in Yemen
Two activists have been arrested in the UK after reportedly trying to disarm warplanes bound for Saudi Arabia.

Two men entered the site of British defence company BAE Systems in the town of Warton, Lancashire, on Sunday morning with the intention of disarming planes, a statement released on behalf of the activists, the Rev Dan Woodhouse and Quaker activist Sam Walton, said.

The pair said their actions were aimed at preventing a delivery of fighter jets to the Saudi government, which has been leading an Arab coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen.

"Stopping or even delaying Saudi Arabia having more planes with which to bomb Yemen would save innocent lives and prevent war crimes," said Woodhouse, a Methodist minister.

"We did not take these steps lightly but we have no other option," Walton added.

Saudi Arabia has led a military campaign in Yemen for two years, in a war that has so far left more than 10,000 people dead and millions more in dire need of aid.

The UK has come under fire for contuining to sell arms to Riyadh despite fears the kingdom was violating international laws by reportedly bombing hospitals, schools and other civilian targets.

BAE Systems – historically the prime contractor in UK-Saudi arms deals – revealed in October that it was in talks with Riyadh over a new multibillion-pound arms contract. 

Over a 20-year period, between 1985 and 2005, the British defence company received over £43 billion from Riyadh through al-Yamamah deals. 

In return Saudi Arabia paid for BAE's military hardware through the delivery of up to 600,000 barrels (95,000 m3) of crude oil per day to the UK government.

Lancashire police confirmed that two people had been arrested on suspicion of criminal damage following an incident at the site and that officers were investigating

A spokeswoman for BAE Systems said: "The incident is now being investigated by Lancashire police and we are assisting them with their inquiries."

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