British foreign secretary defends arms sales to Saudi Arabia

The British foreign secretary has defended UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia, saying the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen is not “in clear breach” of international humanitarian law, reported Middle East Eye

In a written statement to MPs on Monday, Boris Johnson said a report produced by Riyadh into eight separate allegations of indiscriminate bombing of civilians showed there was no “serious breach” of law, which was the “key test” on deciding whether weapons sales should continue.

His statement comes as members of parliament consider this week whether to call for a ban on arms sales to Saudi Arabia in light of allegations that it has indescriminately bombed hospitals, factories and civilian areas during its campaign in Yemen.

“The key test for our continued arms exports to Saudi Arabia in relation to international humanitarian law is whether those weapons might be used in a commission of a serious breach of international humanitarian law,” he said.

The UK has supplied billions of dollars of weapons to Saudi Arabia in recent years, including $2.8bn since the beginning of the Saudi campaign in Yemen.
The British army has also trained Saudi forces in targeting and weapons training this year.

In July, a Human Rights Watch report showed what was described as “compelling evidence” that British-made weapons had been used in attacks on civilians in Yemen.

The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), said it would use the report as part of its court challenge against the British government to end weapons sales to Saudi Arabia.

According to the UN report published on 2 June, the Saudi Arabia-led coalition was responsible for 60% of child deaths and injuries in the Yemen conflict last year, killing 510 and wounding 667, according to Amnesty.