As the UK prepares to go to the polls, it is worth remembering that the current UK government now under Prime Minister Theresa May, proudly sells weapons to some of the most violent abusers of human rights on the planet. Excuses such as “if we don’t sell them weapons, other countries will” and “this is good for British industry” are immoral and ignore the fact that many more jobs can be created not manufacturing weapons than by doing so for the same money. We publish here the latest press release from the Campaign Against Arms Trade.
- Two thirds of UK arms exports go to the Middle East
- Largest buyers include Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Turkey
- UK fighter jets and bombs have played a central role in two-year bombing of Yemen
Government figures, compiled by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), show that the UK has licensed over £4.1 billion of arms to the Middle East since the last election in May 2015. Government figures show that two-thirds of UK arms exports go to the Middle East.
Arms exports to the region were highlighted in last night’s TV debate. CAAT has compiled a list of pledges from the different party manifestos ahead of the upcoming election.
Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: “For decades now the UK has poured arms into the Middle East. Whoever is elected next Thursday must think about the damage these arms can do, and the terrible regimes they are supporting.”
By far the largest buyer was Saudi Arabia, which has used UK fighter jets and bombs in its ongoing bombardment of Yemen. The conflict has killed more than 10,000 people.
The UK has licensed arms to the following regimes:
- Saudi Arabia – £3.3 billion
- United Arab Emirates – £265 million
- Turkey – £175 million
- Qatar: £139 million
- Israel: £105 million
- Oman: £71 million
- Egypt: £65 million
- Jordan: £19 million
- Bahrain: £19 million
- Kuwait: £13 million
- Lebanon: £2.8 million
- Yemen: £266,000
Andrew continued: “These arms sales do not make any of us any safer. They fuel war and conflict by providing political and military support for some of the most brutal and oppressive regimes in the world.
If the UK is to be a force for good in the region then it must end its policy of military interventionism, which has seen the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, and stop selling arms to brutal dictatorships like Saudi Arabia.”
The legality of UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia is currently the subject of a Judicial Review, following an application by CAAT. The claim calls on the government to suspend all extant licences and stop issuing further arms export licences to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen while it holds a full review into if the exports are compatible with UK and EU legislation. The verdict is still pending.