After Italy... Britain lifts the arms embargo on Saudi Arabia in light of the slow negotiations

English - Thursday 08 June 2023 الساعة 07:02 pm
Aden, NewsYemen, exclusive:

The British Supreme Court decided, on Tuesday, to reject a legal appeal filed by a campaign of activists opposing British arms export licenses to the Arab coalition countries, especially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Reuters reported that the activists lost the case they brought to court in the name of the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), in which they alleged that the British government "was illegally allowing the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia for potential use in the war in Yemen."

The agency added that the campaign had argued “that the British government wrongly decided to resume the issuance of new licenses for the export of military equipment to Saudi Arabia in 2020,” but the court rejected this legal challenge in a written ruling on Tuesday 6 June 2023.

It quoted the two judges, Andrew Popplewell and Andrew Henshaw, as saying in the ruling that "the British government's analysis of potential violations of international humanitarian law by Saudi Arabia was not unreasonable."

A UK government spokesperson said: "We welcome the court's ruling. The government takes its export responsibilities very seriously and assesses all export licenses against strict licensing criteria. We will not issue any export licenses that do not comply with these criteria."

Campaign spokeswoman Emily Abel said in a statement that the group was disappointed with the decision, but added: "The ruling exposed the reality that the government's arms export licensing system is incredibly lax."

The British government argued at a judicial hearing in January that there had been a "steady decline" in the number of allegations of violations of international humanitarian law over the course of the war.

Last week, the Italian government announced the lifting of the arms embargo on Saudi Arabia, after it had taken a similar step with regard to the United Arab Emirates earlier.

And the Italian government announced, in a statement after a cabinet meeting last Wednesday evening, that it had lifted a ban on arms sales to Saudi Arabia, after the situation in Yemen improved and Riyadh's role in supporting stability inside the country.

In its statement, the Italian government said the ban was no longer necessary in light of the recent change in the situation on the ground.

Arms-exporting countries are taking advantage of the period of relative calm in Yemen due to the armistice to restore their levels of arms sales to what they were after they imposed an arms embargo on the Arab coalition countries under the pressure of protests by peace activists since at least 2019.

Lifting the ban on arms exports to Saudi Arabia and the UAE brings to mind statements by European and American officials in support of the right of the two countries to self-defense, following the missile and drone attacks launched by the Houthi militia against them over the past few years.

These developments regarding the lifting of arms exports to Saudi Arabia and the UAE raise questions about the fate of regional, international and international efforts to reach a formula for a political settlement that ends the war in Yemen, especially with the continued threats of the Houthi militia to resume the war option and its intensive preparations to go towards this option.

These questions are reinforced by the slow pace of negotiations that Riyadh recently decided to engage in with the Houthi militia, despite the latter's clear escalation of hostility against the legitimate government and the forces supporting it, in addition to raising the ceiling of its demands and conditions in the negotiations to recognizing it as a legitimate authority and granting it the lion's share of the country's oil and natural resources.