.For months now, US arms companies have been in negotiations with Saudi Royalty, with Donald Trump widely expected to confirm over $100 billion worth of sales on a visit to Riyadh that begins today.
The deals, which come at a time when Saudi Arabia is slashing public spending and borrowing billions, are expected to include warships, bombs, missiles and fighter jet components.
The weapons will serve as reinforcements for Saudi forces in Yemen, where they have been engaged in a brutal two-year-long bombardment, which has killed thousands of people and brought millions to the edge of starvation.
Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said:
These arms sales will only fuel the conflict in Yemen and make the world a more dangerous place. The Saudi regime has an appalling human rights record – Trump should be condemning them and using his position to call for reform, not arming and cozying up to them.
In March, Trump told Congress that he would approve a multi-billion dollar fighter jet sale to Bahrain without any of the human rights conditions applied by the Obama administration. Last week his government approved $2 billion worth of arms exports to the United Arab Emirates.
Trump has been in office for less than four months, but he has already overseen air strikes in Iraq that have killed hundreds, a botched raid in Yemen that killed 70 civilians, dropped the ‘mother of all bombs’ on Afghanistan and taken unilateral military action in Syria. Now more than ever, the UK must ask if it really wants to maintain such a damaging and destructive ‘special relationship.’
The UK is also a major supplier of arms to Saudi Arabia. For decades now the Saudi regime has been by far the largest buyer of UK arms. Saudi forces are using UK licensed fighter jets, bombs and missiles in its ongoing bombardment of Yemen.
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)
The legality of UK arms sales is currently the subject of a Judicial Review, following an application by Campaign Against Arms Trade. 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.