For good reasons, Germany has extended an arms sale ban on Saudi Arabia for another six months. Now is the time for other Western governments to follow suit and make sure the Saudis won’t get their chance to bomb and kill the people of Yemen anymore.
Tragic enough, the ban, imposed after the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, has been criticised by European allies since it put a question mark over billions of euros of military orders, including a 10 billion pound deal to sell 48 Eurofighter Typhoon jets to Riyadh that would be led by Britain’s BAE Systems.
The German coalition government in Berlin has been under mounting pressure from Britain and France to lift the ban. They say it prevents them from selling jointly developed equipment with German components to Saudi Arabia.
This is totally unnecessary, because if they do continue to sell weapons, they will continue to be complicit in Saudi war crimes in the poorest country in the Arab world – and that’s according to human rights groups and numerous UN reports, which also mention the United States.
Here, the world body should call on the US to stop being complicit in Saudi war crimes as well. The UN should call on the US to stop arming the Saudis in the protracted war that has gone nowhere despite four years of bombings by the Saudi-UAE coalition.
The air raids have killed thousands of civilians at hospitals, schools and markets, and Western governments are the reason why the devastation continues apace in the stalemated conflict.
The UN should also call for a transparent investigation into the Saudi-led air strikes that have killed so many civilians, mainly children.
The US has broadly supported the Saudis with extremely opaque claims to investigate incidents of civilian deaths. So they should never be allowed to play any role in such investigation. While the investigation is ongoing, the world body should also take steps to reduce the number of civilians the Saudi-led coalition kills.
Meanwhile, no amount of aid will ever meet the growing humanitarian demands – it is critical to change the approach from basic delivery of aid to supporting an end to the war.
The process needs to not only focus on immediate end of hostilities but on peace-building and reconciliation. Military options have failed miserably and devastated the whole nation – there can only be political solutions.
This requires consultations with all the various local factions and external actors as well – ultimately, all the parties will need to agree on a framework for drawing up a clear and precise roadmap to peace. Anything less than this, or in any way ambiguous and without everyone on board, is doomed to fail – including the US-led weaponisation program of Saudis and allies.
Which is why the German government is determined to extend its arms sale ban and why other Western governments should follow suit. Yemen needs peace and the war should end now, so that reconciliation and reconstruction efforts could begin immediately.