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Anti-arms campaigners slam government decision to resume licensing of arms to Saudi Arabia

ANTI-ARMS campaigners slammed the government’s decision to allow new arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the rest of the coalition bombing Yemen today as “disgraceful and morally bankrupt.”

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss announced the decision to resume the granting of new licences for arms sales to the country today. 

Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) condemned the decision and said that it was considering the next legal steps. 

Last year, CAAT successfully took the government to court for having acted unlawfully when it licensed the sale of British-made arms to Saudi forces for use in Yemen without making an assessment as to whether or not its uses amounted to breaches of International Humanitarian Law (IHL). 

Britain has profited at least £5.3 billion from arms to Saudi Arabia since the conflict began in 2015, leaving thousands facing famine. 

CAAT’s Andrew Smith said: “This is a disgraceful and morally bankrupt decision. 

“The Saudi-led bombardment of Yemen has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, and the government itself admits that UK-made [weapons] have played a central role in the bombing. 

“We will be considering this new decision with our lawyers, and will be exploring all options available to challenge it.”

Mr Smith said that there was evidence of a “clear pattern of heinous and appalling” breaches of IHL by the coalition which has repeatedly targeted civilian gatherings such as weddings, funerals and marketplaces. 

“The government claims that these are isolated incidents, but how many hundreds of isolated incidents would it take for the government to stop supplying the weaponry?” he asked.

“This exposes the rank hypocrisy at the heart of UK foreign policy. 

“Only yesterday the government was talking about the need to sanction human rights abusers, but now it has shown that it will do everything it can to continue arming and supporting one of the most brutal dictatorships in the world.”

The government announcement came as the Declassified news outlet exposed that the Saudi-led coalition has received British training on naval tactics that could be used for blockading Yemen, such as “counter-smuggling” and “board and search” training.

Mr Smith said that the training was “symptomatic of the cosy and immoral political and military relationship” between the British government and the coalition.

He said the blockade had exacerbated the crisis, killing a huge number of people by stopping vital supplies from reaching them.

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