Amnesty International said that the Italian House of Representatives approved, on Wednesday, a bill that would stop the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, for fear of use in the operations of the Arab alliance led by Riyadh and Abu Dhabi in Yemen. Amnesty International, on its Twitter website, justified the Italian MPs’ decision to fear for using of such weapons in practices that violate international humanitarian law in Yemen.
It added that the decision came after months of pressure from the Italian civil society and the signing of more than 40 thousand people on a petition demanding the Italian government to suspend the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. European arms sales to Saudi Arabia have become controversial because of the kingdom’s involvement in the devastating war in Yemen.
Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, announced on December 28 that his country plans to take a formal stand on stopping arms sales to Saudi Arabia. He said in a special news conference at the end of the year, in Rome, that his government did not support the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia, and the issue now is to make that position official, and act accordingly.
Italy’s position on arms sales to Riyadh stems from its involvement in the conflict in Yemen and the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in his consulate in early October.
According to previous Italian news reports, Saudi Arabia is the sixth largest importer of arms from Italy in the world, and Italy ranks third in the world among the countries with the largest number of customers in the world. Leaders of trade unions in Italy said in a statement that We will not be complicit in what is happening in Yemen. Human rights campaigners said that the weapons violate a UN treaty because they may be used against civilians in Yemen.
The United Nations and rights groups accuse the aggression of targeting civilians and committing a war crime, a charge the Alliance denies.
Some European countries, including Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and Finland, have stopped supplying the Saudi-led military alliance with arms, but France, Britain, the United States and Spain have not done the same.
Recently, calls from international humanitarian and human rights organizations have been raised by the United States, France and Britain to their leaders to stop and suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which have killed a large number of civilians and destroyed Yemen’s infrastructure and economy.