The international charity organization Oxfam accused the UK of prolonging the war in Yemen by selling Saudi Arabia millions of dollars of military equipment that can be used for Riyadh’s vicious bombing campaign in the country.
Since the UK lifted an export restriction on arms to Saudi Arabia in July of last year, the British government has approved a number of export licenses for military hardware that can be used in the war in Yemen. The sales include equipment to maintain Saudi military jets and equipment for air-to-air refueling that allows longer flights.
The UK is refusing to follow Washington’s lead in suspending some weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, which is part of President Biden’s efforts to end the war in Yemen.
“As the US has called for an end to the conflict in Yemen, the UK is heading in the opposite direction, ramping up its support for the brutal Saudi-led war by increasing arms sales and refueling equipment that facilitate airstrikes,” said Sam Nadel, the head of policy and advocacy at Oxfam.
Selling weapons to the Saudis has been lucrative for the British. Between 2010 and 2019, Saudi arms sales represented 40 percent of UK weapons exports.
While President Biden vowed to end “offensive” support for Saudi Arabia’s operations in Yemen, fighting has been ongoing in the Maarib province, and Saudi airstrikes continue. The US-supported blockade of Yemen does not appear to have been eased either, and the UN is warning 400,000 Yemeni children will starve to death this year if conditions don’t change.