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Despite questions about its role in funding and fuelling terrorism, Saudi Arabia is by far the world’s biggest buyer of UK arms

.The last two months have seen three terrible terrorist attacks carried out in the UK. The attacks were the responsibility of those that have carried them out, and they have been rightly condemned.

Last week it was revealed by the Guardian that the Home Office may not publish a report into the funding of terrorism in the UK. It is believed that the report will be particularly critical of Saudi Arabia.

  • Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest buyer of UK arms
  • UK has licensed over £3.3 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia since it began bombing Yemen in March 2015
  • Saudi Arabia has been widely linked to the funding of violence

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said:
“Only two months ago the Prime Minster was in Riyadh trying to sell weapons to the Saudi regime, which has some of the most abusive laws in the world. This toxic relationship is not making anyone safer, whether in the UK or in Yemen, where UK arms are being used with devastating results.”
The Saudi regime has one of the worst human rights records in the world, yet it is by far the largest buyer of UK arms. Over the last two years it has waged a brutal bombardment on Yemen. Over 10,000 people have been killed in the conflict.
Since the bombing of Yemen began in March 2015, the UK has licensed £3.3 billion worth of arms to the Saudi regime, including:
 £2.2 billion worth of ML10 licences (Aircraft, helicopters, drones)
 £1.1 billion worth of ML4 licences (Grenades, bombs, missiles, countermeasures)
 £430,000 worth of ML6 licences (Armoured vehicles, tanks)
Andrew continued:
“The last twenty years of UK foreign policy in the Middle East have been characterised by interventionism and arms sales, and little in the way of state building or the promotion of human rights. These wars have not made us more secure, nor has cozying up to brutal dictatorships like Saudi Arabia that have been linked to the spread of terrorism and violence.”
The legality of UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia is currently the subject of a Judicial Review, following an application by CAAT. The claim calls on the government to suspend all extant licences and stop issuing further arms export licences to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen while it holds a full review into if the exports are compatible with UK and EU legislation. The verdict is still pending.


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