From The Guardian: British arms sales to Saudi Arabia have been ruled unlawful by the court of appeal in a critical judgment that also accused ministers of ignoring whether airstrikes that killed civilians in Yemen broke humanitarian law.
Three judges said that a decision made in secret in 2016 had led them to decide that Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt and Liam Fox and other key ministers had illegally signed off on arms exports without properly assessing the risk to civilians.
Sir Terence Etherton, the master of the rolls, said on Tuesday that ministers had “made no concluded assessments of whether the Saudi-led coalition had committed violations of international humanitarian law in the past, during the Yemen conflict, and made no attempt to do so”.
[Read full article on Guardian website…]
From Evolve Politics: A list has emerged detailing a staggering number of MPs who have accepted lavish all expenses paid trips to the head-chopping state of Saudi Arabia.
Since 2015, the government of Saudi Arabia has spent at least £222,000 jetting UK MPs out to the oil rich middle eastern country.
Details of these trips are listed on the website of the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. The purpose of the register is to provide information of any financial interests or benefits an MP receives which could be seen as influential on their work as a Member of Parliament.
33 MPs have taken all expenses paid trips to Saudi Arabia since March 2015 – 29 of them Conservative.
Tory MP Leo Docherty seems to be a frequent flyer. He visited in 2015, 2017 and 2018. He is now a member of the Committees on Arms Export Controls.
For Docherty to even be appointed to that Committee is worrying in itself considering the high number of arms the UK licences for export to Saudi Arabia.
[Read full article (with list of the 29 MPs) on Evolve Politics…]
From the Morning Star: Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson accepted £14,000 worth of hospitality from the Saudi regime, only days before Jamal Khashoggi’s death, it was revealed this week.
Andrew Smith, media co-ordinator of Campaign Against Arms Trade, said: “Politicians should not be taking money from authoritarian regimes or dictatorships like the one in Saudi Arabia, which has an appalling human rights record and has inflicted a humanitarian crisis on Yemen.
“The Saudi regime is not spending money on hospitality for Boris Johnson because it cares about his views on education. It is doing it because it knows that he’s got ambitions for Downing Street and it wants to buy influence.”
Labour’s shadow cabinet office minister Jon Trickett said it was another reminder of how far the Tories’ “cosy relationship” with the “murderous” Saudi regime extends.
[Read full article on Morning Star website…]
From The Independent: British Conservative MEPs were branded “disgraceful” after they abstained in a European Parliament vote on whether to impose an EU-wide arms embargo on Saudi Arabia. The UK has licensed almost £5 billion worth of arms to Saudi since the Yemen war began.
[Read article on Independent website…]
From Morning Star: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman may project himself to simpering allies in Washington, London and Tel Aviv as the face of change, but domestic repression and war crimes in Yemen persist.
The Saudi military coalition, engaged in erasing all resistance in its southern neighbour, obliterated a bus in Saada province today, killing up to 39 people – the majority infants – and wounding another 43.
This massacre is merely the latest in a long list by the Saudi coalition, seeking to impose its will by terror bombing since its ground troops have failed so far to achieve its aim.
To improve its chances, Saudi Arabia and its coalition of corrupt Gulf kingdoms spend freely on weapons of mass destruction from Western powers, especially the US and Britain.
Britain’s Campaign Against the Arms Trade estimates that our Tory government has licensed £4.7 billion of arms to Saudi forces since the bombing campaign began in 2015, during which period 10,000 people have been killed.
From The New Arab: Theresa May has been urged to withdraw her invitation for Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince to visit Britain over the kingdom’s human rights violations.
The visit, announced in December, is due in the coming weeks.
However, due to Saudi Arabia’s repressive policies against its citizens, and its bombing campaign in Yemen which created “the world’s worst humanitarian disaster for 50 years” according to a senior UN official, several NGOs focusing on human rights in the Middle East signed a declaration on Tuesday asking the prime minister to cancel the visit.
“This visit will be regarded as an uncritical endorsement of the crown prince and the atrocities that his regime has inflicted on Yemen,” Andrew Smith, media spokesperson for the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), told The New Arab.
From The Guardian: Tory defence secretary Michael Fallon urged MPs to stop criticising Saudi Arabia in the interests of securing a fighter jet deal, provoking sharp criticism from human rights and arms trade campaigners.
Michael Fallon told the defence committee: “I have to repeat, sadly, to this committee that obviously other criticism of Saudi Arabia in this parliament is not helpful and … I’ll leave it there,” he said. “But we need to do everything possible to encourage Saudi Arabia towards batch two. I believe they will commit to batch two.” Read more