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British campaigners urge Joe Biden to keep his promise on ending arms sales to Saudi Arabia

BRITISH campaigners urged new US President Joe Biden today to stick to his promise on ending the country’s support for the Saudi-led war on Yemen through arms sales.

The bombing and blockade of Yemen, which began in March 2015, has created the worst humanitarian crisis in the world and US-made weapons have played a key role in the war.

Mr Biden repeatedly promised to end arms sales and military support to Saudi Arabian forces throughout his presidential campaign. 

In 2019, in a submission to the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr Biden wrote: “I would end US support for the disastrous Saudi-led war in Yemen and order a reassessment of our relationship with Saudi Arabia.

“President Trump has issued Saudi Arabia a dangerous blank cheque. Saudi Arabia has used it to extend a war in Yemen that has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, pursue reckless foreign policy fights and repress its own people.”

The US is the world’s largest arms explorer, with its sales accounting for around one-third of the global arms trade, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

US-made arms have accounted for almost three-quarters of the value of all arms sales to Saudi Arabia between 2015-2019, the SIPRI estimates.

Campaigners have said that an early test of Biden’s commitment will be whether he carries through with the $290-million (£213 million) bomb sale that the Trump administration approved to Saudi forces in December.

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said the humanitarian crisis in Yemen would not have been possible without the arms sales and support of the US and Britain which has “empowered Saudi forces and enabled the destruction.

“Joe Biden has spent decades at the heart of Washington and has a long history of supporting arms exports and interventionism, often with terrible consequences,” Mr Smith said.

“It would take a big change, but, now that he is president, he can set a vital precedent by ending the arms sales and the policies that have allowed them to flourish.

“The bombardment has endured for six years, and thousands of people have been killed. The stakes could not be higher. But if Joe Biden sticks to his word, he can play a vitally important role in ending this devastating war.”

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