EU Arms Ban on Saudi Arabia a Publicity Stunt

EU Arms Ban on Saudi Arabia a Publicity StuntEU Arms Ban on Saudi Arabia a Publicity Stunt

The European Parliament's call for a ban on arms sales to Saudi Arabia is an attempt to appease the public and human rights groups, lawmakers said.

In a recent talk with ICANA, Asghar Salimi noted that western countries continue to sell weapons to the oil kingdom while they know they are being used against the oppressed people of Yemen.

The lawmaker questioned the integrity of the western countries regarding the issue and said, "The Europeans have said they are suspicious that Saudi Arabia has used [European] arms against the peoples of Yemen and Syria, and they are certainly aware where such weapons have been used."

Pointing to the non-binding nature of the resolution, the lawmaker said, "The Saudi lobby persuaded many western countries to issue a non-binding resolution instead of a binding one just to allay pressures by the public and human rights groups."

On Wednesday, the European Parliament voted by a large majority for an EU-wide ban on arms sales to the kingdom, citing the "disastrous humanitarian situation" as a result of "Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen".

The vote does not compel EU member states to act but it does increase pressure on Riyadh, in the wake of criticism from the UN and growing international alarm over civilian casualties in Yemen.

The resolution also turns up the heat on the British government, which has supplied export licenses for up to £3 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia in the last year.

The UK has been accused of direct involvement in the bombing campaign through the deployment of UK military personnel to the kingdom.

Britain and France are the main European suppliers of arms to Saudi Arabia. Germany licensed arms exports of almost $200 million to the kingdom in the first six months of 2015, according to the latest economy ministry data available.

  Face-Saving Move  

Lawmaker Mojtaba Zolnouri said the EP move shows that the European countries have reached the conclusion that the "Saudi fiasco in Yemen" is increasingly putting its western allies to shame.

"Saudi Arabia has failed militarily in Yemen, bringing disgrace upon its western allies. To save face, the European Parliament decided to stop arms sales to the regime," he said.

Zolnouri pointed to the huge $110-billion arms sales reached between the United States and Saudi Arabia in May as a sign of western countries' indifference regarding the Saudi regime's crimes.

"They know exactly where, when and how such weapons are used. The [non-binding] resolution lets the Saudi regime carry on its crimes," he concluded.

Last year, Amnesty International had also called for governments around the world to "set their hypocrisy aside and stop selling billions of dollars worth of deadly weapons to Saudi Arabia being used to attack Yemeni civilians".

The conflict in Yemen began in the autumn of 2014 when the Houthis took control of the capital city Sana'a, sending president Abd-Rabbuh Mansur Hadi into exile.

In March 2015, a coalition led by Saudi Arabia began an air campaign against the Houthis. The United Nations estimates that 13,000 civilians have been killed in the conflict, mostly by Saudi airstrikes.


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