European parliament votes for arms embargo against Saudi Arabia


A destroyed house in Yemen. Photo: wikipedia

A destroyed house in Yemen. Photo: wikipedia

The European Parliament has voted in support of an arms embargo against Saudi Arabia. The European Network Against the Arms Trade (ENAAT) were part of efforts to lobby Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to impose the European-wide arms embargo. The lobbying action included groups from Germany, UK, Spain, Finland, France, Italy, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Belgium. Groups from across Europe tweeted and emailed MEP's using the #StopArmingSaudiArabia hashtag, and the vote was passed on the 25th February, despite being heavily opposed by diplomats from Saudi Arabia, who met with and wrote to MEPs before the vote.

The Saudi military has been at war with Houthi rebels in Yemen since March 2015, in support of Yemen's president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, and a UN reported leaked in January said that there have been “widespread and systematic” targeting of civilians. The UN reported in early January that more than 2,700 civilians have been killed, amid allegations of the use of cluster munitions against civilian targets. Several European countries supply the Saudi military; Campaign Against the Arms Trade say the UK has sold £2.8 billion worth of arms since the bombing began. Other European countries have already suspended arms sales.

The statement from ENAAT read, “In this context and in light of the overwhelming evidence of the extent of international humanitarian and human rights law violations, it is clear that EU Member States should not be supplying any controlled items that might be used in the Yemen conflict.”

The vote will not be legally binding, but will be very embarrassing for Saudi Arabia, and governments continuing to supply military equipment.

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