European Interest

GUE/NGL: Urgent EU arms embargo needed to stop Yemen killings

Flickr/Alisdare Hickson/CC BY-SA 2.0
A Woman in Black protester in central London hands out leaflets highlighting Britain's arms exports to Saudi Arabia and how they "fuel the conflict" and humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

A European Parliament text that urges all sides to bring the Yemen war to an end and to stop EU member states from selling arms to the Saudi-led coalition has been passed.

The conflict – now into its third year – has killed an estimated 50 000 people through bombs, famine and disease. Three million people have been displaced with 22 million in dire need of humanitarian assistance. Up to 10 000 new cases of cholera are also being reported by the World Health Organisation every week, killing 196 so far in 2018 alone.

EU arms sales

However, it is the continuous sales of weapons by EU member states to the Saudi-led coalition which have come under intense criticism, as the conflict intensifies as a proxy war between regional rivals in the Middle East.

Since 2015, the UK has sold fighter aircrafts, bombs and cruise missiles worth billions to Saudi Arabia. In addition, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reports sales of heavy weapons to Saudi Arabia from France, Spain and Italy running into over half a billion euros.*

The GUE/NGL resolution in the text which addresses this issue was easily adopted in the Parliament today.

“The European Parliament vote is a sensible agreement in supporting a UN-led resolution to the war in Yemen with all the parties concerned,” said commenting on the outcome of the vote, MEP Ángela Vallina (Izquierda Unida, Spain).

“Our vote also sends a strong message to the Council to respect both EU and international legislations on selling weapons to countries involved in the conflict – with the aim of imposing an arms embargo to the Saudi-led coalition,” she added.

“Indeed, our GUE/NGL resolution was directed at certain EU countries which do not yet respect this measure: for example, the UK, France, Sweden or Spain.”

“Airstrikes and lethal weapons against civilians have been used daily and have already caused thousands of deaths as well as the suffering of millions more from extreme famine,” Vallina concluded.

*The United Kingdom and France were the second and third largest suppliers to Saudi Arabia in 2013–17; France and Italy the second and third largest suppliers to the UAE (source: SIPRI).

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