Amnesty slams US, UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia

US, UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia 'inflicting horrific suffering' in Yemen: Amnesty
2 min read
23 March, 2018
The arms sales to the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen make a "mockery" of global arms treaties, said Amnesty International.
President Trump holds up a chart with US military sales to Saudi [Getty]
Amnesty International said on Friday that US and UK arms sales to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen made a "mockery" of global arms treaties and has resulted in "enormous harm" to civilians, agencies reported. 

"But this has not deterred the USA, the UK and other states, including France, Spain and Italy, from continuing transfers of billions of dollars' worth of such arms," said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty's Middle East research director.

The rights group documented violations of international law by all warring parties, including the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

In March 2015, Saudi Arabia commenced airstrikes in Yemen after Houthi rebels drove the internationally-recognised government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi out of Sanaa, the Yemeni capital.

Hadi now lives in exile in Riyadh.

"Three years on, Yemen's conflict shows no real signs of abating, and all sides continue to inflict horrific suffering on the civilian population," Maalouf said.

There is "extensive evidence that irresponsible arms flows" to the Saudi-led coalition has not deterred arms exporters from selling military weapons to the coalition, she added. 

The report added the Houthis have killed or injured civilians by firing indiscriminately at residential areas. It also said Houthis carry out arbitrary arrests, detentions, enforced disappearances, torture and other violations that may amount to war crimes.

The UN has called Yemen the "world's worst humanitarian disaster". At least 10,000 have died since the conflict began and a health crisis has swept through the Arab world's poorest country home to 22 million - there are up to one million suspected cholera cases.

On Thursday, the Trump administration signed off on selling more than $1 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia as Crown Prince and de facto leader Mohammed bin Salman visits the US. The sale includes up to 6,700 anti-tank missiles as well as servicing for helicopters and takes already in the kingdom's arsenal. 

The Department of State told Congress that it intends to approve the sale, which legislators must still okay.

On Thursday, Defence Secretary Jim Mattis welcomed the sale and said that Saudi Arabia was "part of the solution" in Yemen.

Earlier this week, the US Senate debated and then scrapped a resolution calling for an end to US support for Saudi Arabia in Yemen.

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