The report, released by children’s charity War Child, claims that corporations, including BAE systems and Raytheon, have made an estimated $775m in profit on $8bn worth of revenue by selling arms to Saudi Arabia between March 2015 and the end of 2016.
Yet corporation tax receipts since the war in Yemen began stands at just $40m, something the NGO describes as “pitiful”.
Military spending in North America saw its first annual increase since 2010, while spending in Western Europe grew for the second consecutive year.
World military expenditure rose for a second consecutive year to a total of $1686 billion in 2016—the first consecutive annual increase since 2011 when spending reached its peak of $1699 billion.* Trends and patterns in military expenditure vary considerably between regions. Spending continued to grow in Asia and Oceania, Central and Eastern Europe and North Africa. By contrast, spending fell in Central America and the Caribbean, the Middle East (based on countries for which data is available), South America and sub-Saharan Africa.
As Rep. Adam Schiff, minority leader of the House Intelligence Committee, said, U.S. support would be perceived “as an indicator of our willingness to push back against Iranian efforts to increase hegemony in the region [and] that may influence how comfortable they are with a nuclear agreement,” adding, “it is very important for the U.S. to have Saudi Arabia’s back when it comes to Yemen.” One anonymous Pentagon official put it coldly: “If you ask why we’re backing this … the answer you’re going to get from most people — if they were being honest — is that we weren’t going to be able to stop it.”
In addition to providing Saudi Arabia with intelligence and flying refueling missions for its air force, the United States has enabled the bombing campaign by supplying $20 billion in weapons over the past 18 months. In total, President Obama has sold more than $115 billion in weapons to the Saudi kingdom – more than any other president.
27 U.S. Senators Rebel Against Arming Saudi Arabia
The Medact Arms Control Group:
Open letter to the Secretary of State of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), Sajid Javid. BIS are in charge of licensing arms sales.
STOP FUELLING THE YEMEN CONFLICT
End all UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia
It is now over a year since the recent outbreak of armed conflict in Yemen began, forcing 2.4 million people to flee their homes, and leaving over 22 million people in need of humanitarian support. The conflict has killed over six thousand people, and left the health care system on its knees.
Humanitarian agencies are struggling to respond and the country stands on the brink of famine. A senior representative of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has described the current level of humanitarian assistance in Yemen as a “drop in the ocean.”
The Arms Trade Treaty won’t mean an immediate end to controversial arms deals like Canada’s $15 billion sale of light armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia, says the United Nations disarmament chief.
Kim Won-soo, the UN’s High Representative on Disarmament Affairs, offered that assessment in an exclusive interview with The Canadian Press following his Monday meeting with Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion. Continue reading
The six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have received weapons including ballistic missile defense capabilities, attack helicopters, advanced frigates and anti-armor missiles, according to David McKeeby, a spokesman the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.
“Consistent with the commitments we made to our Gulf partners at the Camp David summit last May, we have made every effort to expedite sales. Since then, the State and Defense departments have authorized more than $33 billion in defense sales to the 6 Gulf Coordination Council countries,” McKeeby told Defense News.
The European Parliament has voted in favour of an EU-wide embargo on selling arms to Saudi Arabia.
A resolution calling for a ban on all weapons sales to the country was passed by 359 votes to 212, with 31 MEPs abstaining.
The non-binding motion calls on member states to stop selling weapons to the country, which is currently conducting a widely-criticised military operation in neighbouring Yemen marked by high civilian casualties.
The international transfer of weapons to the Middle East has risen dramatically over the past five years, with Saudi Arabia’s imports for 2011-15 increasing by 275% compared with 2006–10, according to an authoritative report.
Overall, imports by states in the Middle East increased by 61%; imports by European states decreased by 41% over the same period. Britain sold more weapons to Saudi Arabia than to any other country. Saudi Arabia is also the biggest US arms market and buys more American arms than British, the report shows. Continue reading
Amid regional turmoil, Obama Administration officials have referred to the Saudi government as an important regional partner, and U.S. arms sales and related security cooperation programs have continued with congressional oversight. Since October 2010, Congress has been notified of proposed sales to Saudi Arabia of fighter aircraft, helicopters, naval vessels, missile defense systems, missiles, bombs, armored vehicles, and related equipment and services, with a potential value of more than $100 billion. Since March 2015, the U.S.-trained Saudi military has used U.S.-origin weaponry, U.S. logistical assistance, and shared intelligence to carry out strikes in Yemen. Some Members of Congress have expressed skepticism about Saudi leaders’ commitment to combating extremism and the extent to which they share U.S. policy priorities. Nevertheless, U.S.-Saudi counterterrorism ties reportedly remain close, and Saudi forces have participated in some coalition strikes on Islamic State targets in Syria since 2014.
Just over fifty years since this “Letter of Intent”, what can we learn from the history of British arms deals with Saudi Arabia?
1) “Bribery has always played a role in the sale of weapons”
2) The Saudi Kingdom can successfully intimidate British politicians and officials
3) The British arms industry has extensive political connections
4) British military equipment will be used
However, alternatives to the dominant military-authoritarian paradigm – in which militarised notions of masculinity are also a prominent feature – are available. In the discussion paper, Dilemmas of Counter-Terror, Stabilisation and Statebuilding, Saferworld provided a review of global evidence on the impacts of existing approaches, and suggested a number of constructive directions for improved policy, including:
- Avoiding defining conflicts narrowly as problems of ‘terror’, ‘extremism’ or ‘radicalisation’, and instead adopting a more impartial, holistic and sustainable approach to resolving them
- Changing international and national policies and approaches that fuel grievances and undermine human rights
- Redoubling efforts for diplomacy, lobbying, advocacy and local-level dialogue to make the case for peace and adherence to international law by conflict actors
- Looking for opportunities to negotiate peace – balancing pragmatic considerations with a determined focus to achieve inclusive and just political settlements in any given context
- Considering the careful use of legal and judicial responses and targeted sanctions as alternatives to the use of force
- Taking greater care when choosing and reviewing relationships with supposed ‘allies’
- Supporting transformative reform efforts to improve governance and state-society relations and uphold human rights
- Choosing not to engage if harm cannot be effectively mitigated and no clear solution is evident.
Many civilians continue to live in Saada, northern Yemen, despite almost daily airstrikes in the area. Michael Seawright from Auckland, New Zealand, was recently Project Coordinator for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) projects in the war-torn region.
“I’ve worked in war zones for the past 11 to 12 years, in some of the worst conflicts like Syria, but I have never seen such destruction conducted in such a short period as in Yemen. I was based in Saada, in the north, in a Houthi-controlled area that was experiencing almost daily attacks from Coalition air forces. These air strikes were often close to our facilities and we clearly felt their effects.
According to the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), the UK has sold more than £5.6 billion of arms to Saudi Arabia since 2010, including combat aircraft worth £1.7 billion last May.
The arms trade also receives generous state backing. The UK Trade and Industry Defence and Security Organisation, which exists to promote arms sales, gets far more funding than other UKTI sectors, even though the arms trade is responsible for only 1.5 per cent of UK exports.
David Cameron’s governments have overseen the sale of over £5.6 billion of military licences to Saudi Arabia since 2010, according to new research published by Campaign Against Arms Trade.
Physicians for Social Responsibility’s (PRS) study concluds that the death toll from 10 years of the “War on Terror” since the 9/11 attacks is at least 1.3 million, and could be as high as 2 million.
It is heavily critical of the figure most widely cited by mainstream media as authoritative, namely, the Iraq Body Count (IBC) estimate of 110,000 dead. According to the PSR study, the much-disputed Lancet study that estimated 655,000 Iraq deaths up to 2006 (and over a million until today by extrapolation) was likely to be far more accurate than IBC’s figures.
total deaths from Western interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan since the 1990s – from direct killings and the longer-term impact of war-imposed deprivation – likely constitute around 4 million (2 million in Iraq from 1991-2003, plus 2 million from the “war on terror”), and could be as high as 6-8 million people when accounting for higher avoidable death estimates in Afghanistan.