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  • British opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn announced he would stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen, if elected.

    British opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn announced he would stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen, if elected. | Photo: Reuters

Published 1 December 2019

“Labour will stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen and work to end the war there," the candidate for PM said.

British opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Sunday he would stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia for use in a Yemen devastated by war if his party wins this month’s election.

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“Labour will stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen and work to end the war there, not actively support it as the Conservative government has done,” Corbyn said in a speech presenting Labour’s foreign policy goals before the vote that will take place on Dec. 12.

“Labour’s new internationalism means we will create a peace and conflict-prevention fund and invest an extra 400 million pounds (US$513 million) to expand our diplomatic capacity and increase oversight of arms exports to ensure we’re not fuelling conflicts, as in Yemen and in Israel and the Palestinian territories,” he detailed in the speech in the northern English city of York.

Britain is the world’s sixth-largest seller of arms, after the United States, Russia, France, Germany, and China, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

The country’s Conservative-led government had said in June it would suspend any new licenses for weapons exports to the Gulf state fighting against the Houthi rebels in Yemen after a court ruled these sales were unlawful.

Campaign Against Arms Trade had brought the case against the British government accusing it of licensing arms sales while ignoring an evident risk that their use would break international humanitarian law, by killing civilians.

However, in September, Britain’s international trade secretary acknowledged that the country had violated the court order for a third time, urging opposition calls for her resignation.

Saudi Arabia became the world's biggest weapons importer following its decision to attack its already impoverished neighbor. In 2018, the kingdom’s military spendings reached nearly US$70 billion, approximately corresponding to nine percent of its gross domestic product (GDP).

The endless Yemeni civil war started on March 26, 2015, when Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates led a coalition of countries in a military campaign against the Houthis in Yemen in support of the Saudi-backed government of Abd-Rabu Mansour Hadi. 

The conflict has since killed more than 100,000 people including more than 12,000 civilians, as well as estimates of more than 85,000 dead as a result of an ongoing famine, and put more than 24 million others in severe need of assistance. The UN said the country is facing the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.

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