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Britain’s Not-so-subtle Involvement in Yemen

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Britain’s Not-so-subtle Involvement in Yemen

Due to its political instability, the inauguration of the Yemeni crisis dates back to 2011-12. Since then, the situation has worsened, with UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) declaring it the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. The death toll has risen overtime. More than 3.6 million people have been forced to flee their homes and 24 million Yemenis are in need of humanitarian assistance.

The relationship between Saudi Arabia and the UK is not only limited to the supply of arms or military cooperation but both these countries have also managed to develop economic ties over the years in the form of trade and investment.

The wreck intensified in 2015 when a Saudi led a coalition of nine nations began to downplay the rise of Houthis in Yemen: Zaydi Shiites, Shiite Muslims are the minority community in the Islamic world and Zaydis are a minority of Shiites. To dominate this region for territorial power, they played against Iran – where the UK faced accusations of being the backbone of its strategic ally, Saudi Arabia.

The UK’s support for the Saudi-led international coalition in Yemen, which is backing the country’s government in its battle against a long-running Houthi insurgency, has proved highly controversial and is not only limited to the provision of arms and military equipment. It further stretches from assembling the planes that drop bombs in Yemen to providing the much-needed technical assistance for Arabs to sustain the war. 

How has Britain been providing support to this coalition?

Initially, the chief deputy of Oxfam complained that the British government had been hiding 37 arms export licenses which it had given to Saudi Arabia to support the coalition. Not to forget, UK’s bomb sales data revealed a rapid surge from £9m to more than £1bn within three months in 2015, explaining the UK’s motive to instigate this war.

Fast-forwarding to recent times, besides subcontracting BAE, Britain’s largest arms company to supply BAE Systems has been a principal supplier of Eurofighter Typhoon and Tornado jets to the Royal Saudi Air Force. This branch of Saudi Arabia’s military “has conducted a string of deadly strikes” on Yemen. Arabs with the necessary weapons, the British government has sent RAF professionals to Saudi Arabia to work as engineers and train the Arabian pilots; hence, strengthening the Arab forces.

Despite buying an immense number of arms from the UK, it would have been quite impossible for Arabs to continue the war if there hadn’t been 6300 British contractors located in the attack operational bases of Saudi Arabia. Their main purpose has been to back up the Arab military, which lacks the required talents to use the weapons imported from the UK.

Under British law, it is illegal to sell arms if they are being intentionally used to harm the mass population or to violate international humanitarian law, the Yemenis in this case. Although there have been many vivid pieces of evidence of Arabs using the British weapons to harm the Yemenis, the conservative British parliament has been diplomatically denying any accusations of human rights violations. It has been continuing its arms supply and related services to Saudi Arabia.

Hence,one is impelled to inquire into whether or not Britain’s uncalled intervention will prove to be detrimental or helpful. 

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