Buoyed by President Joe Biden’s announced decision to limit U.S. involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen, U.K. peace activists on Friday renewed calls for the British government to stop selling weapons to Saudi Arabia.
The Stop the War Coalition called Biden’s move “a welcome change to US foreign policy,” and the group’s convener, Lindsey German, said that Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab should now follow his lead.
German accused both Johnson and Raab of having “blood on their hands” in what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
“Their support for the carnage in Yemen,” said German, “must end immediately.”
The group said the ongoing UK backing for the Saudis is shameful and that an “overwhelming majority” of people “on both sides of the Atlantic” oppose the ongoing arms sales fueling the war.
“Biden’s announcement of an end to US support for the war on #Yemen and a suspension of arms sales to Saudi Arabia is a welcome change to US foreign policy. Shamefully, the British government continues to support the war…”#YemenCantWait #WorldSaysNohttps://t.co/TeTTUmxtKv
— Stop the War (@STWuk) February 5, 2021
On Friday, the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) also published a statement calling on Britain to follow Biden’s lead and stop supporting the war.
“Since the bombing of Yemen began in March 2015, the UK has licensed at least £5.4 billion [$7.4 billion] worth of arms to the Saudi regime,” said CAAT, including warplanes, helicopters, drones, missiles, bombs, and other armaments.
In addition to providing technical and logistical support for the Saudi-led war effort, British arms manufacturers profit handsomely from the conflict that has claimed an estimated 233,000 lives from direct and indirect causes, according to the U.N.
The Saudi-led attacks on #Yemen are carried out with weapons supplied by the US and the UK, and sustained by their ongoing military support. https://t.co/qX6jFLxwDP
As the US reconsiders its support, please demand the UK does the same: https://t.co/lhrLGLGoXC#StopArmingSaudi
— CAAT (@CAATuk) February 5, 2021
Sarah Waldron of CAAT said that Biden’s move “puts the spotlight firmly on to the UK government and companies that have armed, supported, and enabled the brutal bombardment.”
“Saudi-led forces have killed thousands of civilians and bombed schools, hospitals, and homes,” said Waldron. “No matter how dire the crisis has become, they have been able to count on the uncritical political and military support of the UK government.”
“That support must end, and so must… the arms sales that have done so much damage,” she added.
The activists’ calls were echoed by Lisa Nandy, the Labour shadow foreign secretary, who said Friday that “the government’s support for Saudi campaign in Yemen is not only morally wrong but increasingly leaves Britain isolated on the world stage.”
“President Biden’s decision to end US support for operations in Yemen shows just how far global opinion has shifted and leaves the UK worryingly out of step with our allies,” said Nandy. “Ministers must now take long overdue action to stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia and end the U.K.’s role in a conflict which has caused the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.”
Leading weapons-manufacturing nations including Italy and Germany have ended or significantly limited arms sales to the Saudi-led coalition, while others including Canada and France have continued to profit from the war.
Brett Wilkins is is staff writer for Common Dreams. Based in San Francisco, his work covers issues of social justice, human rights and war and peace. This originally appeared at CommonDreams and is reprinted with the author’s permission.