SHAFAQNA – Leading rights group Amnesty International has strongly criticized Britain for supplying Saudi Arabia with billions of pounds worth of arms which are broadly used in attacks on Yemen.
In a new report, Amnesty cited dramatic rise in revenues of BAE Systems — the British-based multi-national defense contractor — due to increased aircraft deliveries to Saudi Arabia which is waging a bloody war in Yemen.
The UK-based rights group said the war on Yemen, alongside plans for further Saudi involvement in Syria, helped the British weapons giant improve operating profits last year from £1.3 billion to £1.5 billion.
BAE Systems has sold Typhoon jets to Saudi Arabia, and has also signed a deal to send 22 Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer aircraft to the kingdom.
Amnesty’s arms trade director, Oliver Sprague, demanded an immediate end to the BAE Systems’ arms sales to Riyadh.
The BAE Systems’ shareholders “need to realize that a large part of the company’s profits is coming from the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia at the very time Saudi’s military coalition in Yemen has killed thousands of civilians,” Sprague said on Thursday.
Sprague warned the UK government to “stop cheerleading BAE’s lucrative arm sales” and to suspend export licenses for further arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
“There is strong evidence that the present weapons sales to Saudi Arabia are not just ill-advised but actually illegal,” he said.
In early February, an all-party group of MPs in the British parliament called for an international independent inquiry into the Saudi military campaign in Yemen.
According sources, London supplied export licenses for close to £3 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia last year. The British government has also been accused of being involved in guiding the Saudi campaign in Yemen.
Defending the arms sales to the Saudi regime, British Premier David Cameron recently said the Saudis were being encouraged to abide by humanitarian laws.
The details of the UK-manufactured missile and fighter jet sales licensed by the UK government are examined in a UN report currently being studied by the Security Council.
International organization and rights groups say Saudi-led raids on medical facilities, schools, mosques and markets in Yemen have violated international humanitarian laws.
Since the beginning of the Saudi war against Yemen in March last year, at least 8,278 people, among them 2,236 children, have been killed and 16,015 others injured.