UK arms sales and Saudi Arabia intervention in Yemen | September 2016

The situation in Yemen is extremely complex, with a number of different groups in conflict. The main division is between the incumbent President Hadi and supporters (including the Sunni population and the military) and Shia populations and rebel groups. However, there are others, including factions of al-Qaeda.
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 export of arms and controlled goods to all destinations, including Saudi Arabia, is assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria. The criteria include the requirement that exports of all UK controlled goods are only permitted if, after a thorough assessment, there is no clear risk that they might be used for internal repression. Any evidence of the misuse UK or non-UK supplied goods is factored into this assessment. There are rigorous pre-licence checks and, for open
licences, compliance audits at the exporters’ premises in the UK.
I am, of course, aware that the actions of the Saudi-led coalition (which includes Jordan, Egypt, Morocco and Sudan) has raised concerns relating to human rights. Unfortunately, neither the Ministry of Defense nor the Foreign and Commonwealth Office can make definitive judgements regarding every incident of potential concern that comes to its attention. This would be impossible in conflicts to which the UK is not a party, as is the case in Yemen, especially given the complexities I have outlined above.
However, the UK Government has assessed that Saudi Arabia has put in place processes and procedures to ensure respect for the principles of international humanitarian law and found that the they have been, and continue to be, committed to compliance with international humanitarian law. I am confident that the Government will carefully scrutinise all arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
September 2016

Contact David

Write a message to David online; make an appointment to speak with him in-person, virtually or by telephone; and enquire about arranging a visit to Westminster, including tickets to watch PMQs