The UK’s Labour Party has renewed calls for a ban on all arms sales to Saudi Arabia, as the kingdom’s brutal military aggression against poverty-stricken Yemen continues.
Fabian Hamilton, the shadow minister for peace, said Sunday that unlike the ruling Tory government, a Labour administration would only provide weapons to countries that use them for defensive purposes.
“We should not be selling weapons to any state that uses, or could potentially use, weapons we supply for internal repression or for foreign wars,” Hamilton told the Middle East Eye, noting that the ban should include all the Saudi allies, who have been participating in the deadly war since it began in March 2015.
More than 12,000 people have been killed ever since, and much of the country’s infrastructure, including hospitals, schools and factories, has been ravaged.
The Saudi-led war has also triggered a deadly cholera epidemic across Yemen and has dragged the impoverished nation to the brink of a widespread famine.
When asked if Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn would push for UK arms embargoes against the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Egypt, Hamilton responded, “Absolutely.”
The government of Prime Minister Theresa May has remained defiant in the face of growing pressure to stop arms exports to Saudi Arabia, defending the sales amid evidence of war crimes and civilian deaths in Yemen.
British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon went to Riyadh last month to discuss military cooperation with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who serves as the kingdom’s defense minister and deputy prime minister.
May seeks to build on the traditionally strong ties with the Arab states of the Persian Gulf region before the UK’s planned departure from the European Union. She said last year that Britain would invest over three billion pounds in military forces of the oil rich countries over the next decade.
The Middle East has been a key market for the UK’s arms industry, which has sold more than six billion pounds of arms to Saudi Arabia since it began its bombing campaign in Yemen.
British Trade Secretary Liam Fox argues that all of his country’s arms deals were “ethical” because they prevented an eruption of unregulated sales.