Saudi Arabia: Arming Up...
By Vanessa Baird / newint.org
Mar 7, 2016

For many years Saudi Arabia has spent billions on weapons systems – yet rarely put them to use. During Desert Storm (1990-91) there were reports that the Saudi military didn’t know how to operate much of its own high-tech equipment.

All that has changed. In March 2015, Saudi Arabia started a ferocious bombardment of Yemen, heading a coalition of Sunni-dominated Arab states bent on crushing Yemen’s Shi’a Houthi rebels, who had gained control of the capital, Sana’a.

The impact on the people of Yemen has been devastating:

DAMAGE DONE

  • During 2015 more than 5,700 people were killed, about half of them civilians, according to the UN.1
  • Markets, factories, houses, schools and health clinics have all been targets – including a hospital run by the charity Médecins Sans Frontières and a school funded by Oxfam.2
  • Cluster bombs banned by international treaty have been dropped from Saudi aircraft.3
  • By December 2015, 1.5 million Yemenis had been internally displaced, and more than 7.6 million – almost a third of the population – were in desperate need of food aid. Intensive bombing and a Saudi blockade starving Yemenis of vital supplies are largely to blame.1

BONANZA

The bombing of Yemen has been a bonanza for Saudi Arabia’s arms trading partners.

Chief among those are Britain (which accounts for 36% of arms sales to the kingdom), the US (35%) and France (5%).4 Canada has a profitable US$15 billion contract to supply light armoured vehicles.5

Between 2010 and 2014 Saudi Arabia was already buying four times more arms than in the period 2005-09.4 In 2014 it became the world’s largest arms buyer.

The British government licensed almost $8.3 billion of arms to the regime between May 2010 and May 2015, including Hawk and Typhoon fighter jets, machine guns, teargas, bomb components, military vehicles, and targeting equipment.6

As the bombing of Yemen escalated in March 2015, so did arms sales to Saudi Arabia:

  • In July 2015 Britain transferred to Saudi Arabia $234 million worth of Paveway IVprecision-guided 500-pound bombs originally earmarked for its own Royal Air Force.7
  • In six months between March and September 2015, Britain issued 37 arms export licences for transfers to Saudi Arabia.8
  • In October the US approved an $11.25 billion deal for up to four Lockheed Martin warships for Saudi Arabia, along with weapons, training and logistics support.9
  • In November the US State Department approved the sale of $1.29 billion worth of air-to-ground munitions such as laser-guided bombs and ‘general purpose’ bombs with guidance systems.10

The reasons given to legislators and the public for approving such sales was the need for Saudi Arabia to replace stocks that had been used up on ‘counter-terrorism’.

PROTEST

Human rights campaigners and others are not impressed. In the US, Human Rights Watch called on Congress to reject bomb sales to Saudi Arabia.

‘The US government is well aware of the Saudi-led coalition’s indiscriminate air attacks that have killed hundreds of civilians in Yemen since March,’ said HRW spokesperson Joe Stork. ‘Providing the Saudis with more bombs is a recipe for greater civilian deaths, for which the US will be partially responsible.’10

Amnesty International called for a suspension of further sales of aerial munitions after it was shown that British-made missiles sold to the kingdom had been used for attacking civilian targets, in violation of International Humanitarian Law.11

An investigation by leading lawyers Philippe Sands QC, Andrew Clapham and Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh came to the conclusion that the British government was breaking national, EUand international law in supplying arms to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen.12

Meanwhile, Andrew Smith of the British Campaign Against Arms Trade said:

‘There must be an immediate embargo on all arms sales to the regime, and an end to the uncritical political support they are given. How many more people will be tortured and killed before the UK government finally says enough is enough?’

The British people seem to agree. Research by Opinium LLP has found that 62% of adults oppose arms sales to Saudi Arabia, with only 16% supporting them.13

  1. Al Jazeera nin.tl/Yemen-famine 
  2. trunews.com nin.tl/Saudi-arms-drops 
  3. The Guardian nin.tl/cluster-bombs 
  4. SIPRI nin.tl/arms-trends 
  5. Middle East Eye nin.tl/Canada-Saudi-deal 
  6. CAAT nin.tl/UK-arms-export 
  7. Defense News nin.tl/British-bombs-Yemen 
  8. The Guardian nin.tl/UK-arms-scandal 
  9. RT nin.tl/Lockheed-warships 
  10. Human Rights Watch nin.tl/US-bomb-sales-Saudi 
  11. Amnesty International nin.tl/uk-cruise-missile-used 
  12. Amnesty International nin.tl/uk-gov-breaks-law 
  13. CAAT nin.tl/£4billion-arms-to-SA 

 

Front cover of New Internationalist magazine, issue 490This feature was published in the March 2016 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

 

 

0.0 ·
0
Trending Today
Globalization Makes No Sense
Chris Agnos · 27,877 views today · When I lived in San Francisco, I often would marvel at the movement of goods through the ports across the bay in Oakland. Full container ships would enter the bay one after...
Proof of Evolution That You Can Find on Your Body
4 min · 13,595 views today · Vestigial structures are evolution's leftovers — body parts that, through inheritance, have outlived the context in which they arose. Some of the most delightful reminders of...
The Most Astounding Fact about the Universe
3 min · 4,949 views today · This is Neil Degrasse Tyson's response when asked to describe the most astounding fact about the universe. Background music is the cinematic orchestra - To build a home.
Stunning Small Homes Form Part of a Communal Compound for Best Friends
Lighter Side · 4,232 views today · If you’re lucky enough to have longtime friends even as an adult, then you know probably already know how much it means to be able to spend time together. Maybe you even have a...
How Norway Avoided Becoming a Fascist State
George Lakey · 3,350 views today · Instead of falling to the Nazi party, Norway broke through to a social democracy. Their history shows us polarization is nothing to despair over.
To Change Everything, Start Everywhere
8 min · 3,028 views today · To Change Everything, Start Everywhere! The case for complete self-determination—a guide for the furious, the curious, and the pure of heart. To Change Everything: An...
The Foiled Bomb Plot in Kansas That Didn't Make Trump's Terror List
5 min · 2,879 views today · When a plot by a pro-white militia to bomb a Somali mosque in Kansas was foiled by the FBI last October, the aborted conspiracy received little national coverage - nor did it...
The London Anarchist Group Squatting Mansions to Fight Homelessness
6 min · 2,645 views today · London squatting activists ANAL (Autonomous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians) are squatting empty multi-million pound buildings and opening them up to the homeless.
Where the Term "Redneck" Came From
15 min · 2,632 views today · If you don't know this story, you'll never look at the word the same again.  This is just a window into the sometimes shocking, subversive and untold history of the United...
Without Saying a Word This 6 Minute Clip From Samsara Will Make You Speechless
6 min · 2,380 views today · Can you put this video into words? It's a clip from the phenomenal documentary Samsara, directed by Ron Fricke, who also made Baraka.  If you're interested in watching...
Transition From Caterpillar to Butterfly as Analogy for Social Change
4 min · 2,327 views today · An exceprt from Crossroads: Labor Pains of a New Worldview in which Dr. Bruce Lipton talks about the fractal nature of reality and compares the current global awakening and the...
From Sanctuary City to Liberated City
Frank Lara · 2,082 views today · In just one week, with several strokes of a pen, Trump unleashed upon the working class in the U.S. an attack not seen in decades. From his attack on the flawed Affordable Care...
The Fire Within
Words by Sophie Scholl - Illustrations by Gavin Aung Than · 1,806 views today · Sophie Scholl (1921-1943) was a German activist who is famous for speaking out against the Nazi regime. Scholl was a member of a protest group called The White Rose, which...
Michael Moore Wants to Help You Find Your Next Anti-Trump Protest
Sarah Ruiz-Grossman · 1,686 views today · The Resistance Calendar lists upcoming rallies across the country.
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 1,539 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
How a Lack of Touch Is Destroying Men
Mark Green · 1,108 views today · Why Men Need More Platonic Touch in their Lives
10 Words Every Girl Should Learn
Soraya Chemaly · 1,046 views today · "Stop interrupting me."  "I just said that." "No explanation needed." In fifth grade, I won the school courtesy prize. In other words, I won an award for being polite. My...
Redneck Revolt Presents: A Message to the Patriot Movement
6 min · 969 views today · Over the past few weeks, Redneck Revolt has been communicating with a former member of a III% Patriot Militia based out of Ohio. Peter made contact with our organization after...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 805 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Compassion, the Antidote
Martin Doblmeier · 802 views today · Thich Nhat Hanh has published nearly 100 books and is one of the best-known teachers of Zen Buddhism in the world today. In the early 1960s his practice of what he termed...
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
Saudi Arabia: Arming Up...