Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia | April 2018

I have received numerous letters regarding UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the use of such arms in Yemen.
The situation in Yemen is extremely complex, with a number of different groups in conflict. Military action should be the last course of action; however, the threats from international terrorism and regional unrest are legitimate concerns for Saudi Arabia and other neighbouring countries. It is reasonable for them to seek to protect their borders and be able to counter any acts of aggression, as well as, in this case, intervene in neighbouring countries who are suffering from severe unrest.
The British Government takes its legal responsibilities seriously and operates one of the most robust arms export control regimes in the world. Exports are assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria and only permitted if there is no clear risk that they might be used for internal repression, if it is judged that the proposed export would provoke or prolong internal conflicts, or used aggressively against another country.
Of course, finding a political solution to the conflict in Yemen is the best way to bring long-term stability and peace talks are a top priority. As Saudi Arabia investigates reports of alleged violations of International humanitarian law, the Government will continue to monitor the situation.
I have previously worked closely with Save the Children on the Yemen conflict and have asked numerous Parliamentary questions on this issue. I remain concerned at certain incidents that the charity has reported to me. However, I do not believe that Saudi Arabia’s intervention in the conflict was illegal, I do not support suspending licensing of UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
April 2018

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