SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties and Foundation for Supporting Peace and Development “FSPD” have launched a new report on British arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and their use in the Yemen war.
The two organizations said that the UK is the second-largest exporter of defense equipment in the world. The greatest share being accumulated within the air defense market (63%), with land accumulating 24% share of exports and 13% of the share of exports accumulated by sea. Since 2010, Middle Eastern countries purchased 60% of the UK’s defense export, amounting to $125 billion, with 58% of the market share of UK defense exports to countries in the Middle East in 2019.
According to the report, Saudi Arabia's purchases accounted for 41% of the total volume of arms exports from the United Kingdom between 2010 and 2019, and the United Kingdom was responsible for 19% of arms imports to Saudi Arabia.
Based on CAAT’s (Campaign Against Arms Trade), the total published value of approved UK export licenses for military goods to Saudi Arabia since the start of the bombing in Yemen is £5.4 billion. However, the real value is no less than £16 billion, according to the campaign.
The UK companies which applied for the highest number of export licenses to Saudi Arabia are Excelitas, BAE Systems, VestGuard UK, and Rolls-Royce. Exports from companies include £2,9 billion of aircraft, helicopters, drones, and related equipment and components; and, £2.5 billion of bombs, missiles, grenades, and countermeasures, and related equipment and components.
With regard to UK arms sales for the UAE, the "Yemeni Peace Project" states that the UAE is involved - and maybe more militarily involved - than Saudi Arabia in the Yemeni war, as it appears to be carrying out the majority of airstrikes on the coalition front lines.
In the past two decades, the UAE has invested heavily in the manufacture of weapons, particularly in armored vehicles and missiles. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the United Arab Emirates was the world's eighth-largest importer of weapons between 2015 and 2019.
The report notes that the UAE is one of the UK’s biggest arms customers, the UK’s sales are modest in comparison to other suppliers, such as the United States (68%) and France (11%). David Cameron’s government attempted to increase its arms sales to the UAE in 2013 through a contract which would have seen BAE Systems supplying 60 Eurofighter Typhoons, but the deal was later appropriated by France. A permanent British Defense Staff has since been established in the Gulf as part of the UK’s 2015 National Security Strategy and Strategic Defense and Security Review in an attempt to increase the UK – UAE arms trade relations
CAAT reports that the total value of UK export licenses approved for military goods to the UAE since the bombing of Yemen began is £715 million.
CAAT further reports that 122 UK arms companies have applied for licenses to export military equipment to the UAE, including BAE Systems (artillery, aircraft, surface-to-air missile systems, and armored vehicles), Accuracy International (sniper rifles), and AEI Systems (aircraft cannons, mounted machine guns and aircraft spares). This has resulted in the approval of 652 limited-value ‘standard’ licenses and 86 unlimited-value ‘open’ licenses.
This includes, for instance, licensing for aircraft, helicopters, and drones at a value of £246 million; for armored vehicles at a value of £158 million; for electronic equipment at a value of £101 million; and, for light weapons at a value of £53 million.
Bellingcat, an investigative journalism website specializing in fact-checking and open source intelligence, tracked scores of images and videos of Saudi and Emirati combatants in Yemen with UK-made weaponry. Regarding evidence revealing the use of these weapons in the Yemeni war, Amnesty International says there is ample evidence that the influx of irresponsible weapons to the Saudi-led coalition has inflicted severe harm on Yemeni civilians. For example, in 2016, British Defense Secretary Sir Michael Fallon admitted that the cluster bombs used by Saudi Arabia to bomb Yemeni villages and farms were made and sold by the UK. And the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia secretly admitted its use!
In August of the last year 2019, the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) and UK law firm Bindmans submitted a 288-page report of their comprehensive independent analysis which accumulated witness testimony and crater and bomb-fragment analysis from a large number of strikes carried out by the Coalition.
The SAM and FSPD report concluded in their recommendations that the UK should listen to calls from organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Campaign Against the Arms Trade to stop supplying weapons to the Saudi-led coalition so that there is no real risk of using these weapons to fuel the conflict in Yemen.
The report also concluded that Backbench MPs should forgo support for all new and existing arms export licenses secured by the United Kingdom government, for the coalition, and listen and cooperating with the Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts on Yemen, who stressed, in the report officially submitted to the Human Rights Council on September 29, 2020, that “there are no clean hands in this conflict.
The full report Here