James Cusick / The Independent and Alistair Dawber / The Independent – 2016-02-24 00:17:15
Saudi Arabia Bombing Civilian Targets in Yemen Is Helping Grow BAE Systems Sales, Says Amnesty International
James Cusick / The Independent
LONDON (February 18, 2016) — Saudi Arabia’s potentially illegal bombing of civilian targets in Yemen, currently being investigated by the United Nations, is helping to grow sales of fighter aircraft made by BAE Systems, according to Amnesty International.
Amnesty International says that that financial figures from the British-based multi-national defence contractor, reveal that a net gain of close to Â£1 billion over the last year in the company’s UK division is down to continuing sales and engineering support of its Eurofighter Typhoon jet to the Royal Saudi Air Force.
BAE stongly denied that sales to Saudi Arabia were helping fuel the conflict in Yemen, and that their improved sales were related to the bombing campaign.
Details of fighter jet sales, and UK-manufactured missiles, both licenced by the UK government, are examined in a UN report currently being studied by the Security Council.
The Saudi-led coalition of nine Sunni states began its attacks on Houthi-controlled areas of neighbouring Yemen in March last year. The airstrike campaign and naval blockade has so far claimed the lives of over 6,000 civilians.
Bombing raids on schools, medical facilities, mosques and markets, according to the UN, have violated international humanitarian laws, with regions of Yemen facing acute levels of famine.
Amnesty International alleges that although BAE’s military-related sales contracted in recent years, the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen, alongside plans for further Saudi involvement in bombing in Syria, helped improve operating profits last year from Â£1.3 billion to Â£1.5 billion.
According to the company’s own figures for 2015, the Saudi military market helped boost its overall performance. Sales increased by Â£1.3 billion to Â£17.9 bn.
In 2005 the Saudi government placed an order with BAE for 72 Eurofighter Typhoons. The company described 2015 sales as part of an “existing order”.
David Cameron recently told the Commons that the Saudis were being encouraged to abide by humanitarian laws. However Amnesty International said the new sales figures should act as warning to BAE’s shareholders.
Amnesty’s arms trade director, Oliver Sprague, told The Independent: “They [shareholders] need to realise that a large part of the company’s profits is coming from the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia at the very time Saudi’s military coalition in Yemen has killed thousands of civilians.”
Warning the UK government to “stop cheerleading BAE’s lucrative arm sales” and to suspend export licences for further arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Mr. Sprague added “There is strong evidence that that the present weapons sales to Saudi Arabia are not just ill-advised but actually illegal.
The Saudi-led operation claims to have targeted only Houthi military targets. However the UN report documents multiple attacks on civilian populations.
The company said: “Deliveries of aircraft to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2015 were part of contract signed in 2007 and the delivery schedule is determined years in advance.
“We provide defence equipment and support to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia under a Government to Government agreement. The export of any defence equipment is strictly regulated and the UK operates one of the most stringent arms control regimes in the world.”
Yemen War: Saudi Arabia Accused of Deploying Illegal, US-supplied Cluster Bombs in Conflict
Alistair Dawber / The Independent
(February 15, 2016) — A leading international human rights group has accused the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen of using indiscriminate cluster bombs supplied by the United States, and says that their use could break US law.
A leading international human rights group has accused the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen of using indiscriminate cluster bombs supplied by the United States, and says that their use could break US law.
An international ban on the use of cluster munitions, which can kill and maim people long after being deployed, was agreed in 2008. Saudi Arabia, which joined the civil war in Yemen in March last year, is not a signatory.
“Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners, as well as their US supplier, are blatantly disregarding the global standard that says cluster munitions should never be used under any circumstances,” said Steve Goose, arms director at Human Rights Watch (HRW) and chair of the international Cluster Munition Coalition. “The Saudi-led coalition should investigate evidence that civilians are being harmed in these attacks and immediately stop using them.”
Human Rights Watch first accused Riyadh of using cluster bombs in Yemen in May last year. The group now says that the supply and use of the weapons could violate strict conditions in American law, which regulates their use.
The organisation points out that one of the weapons being used by the Saudis is a CBU-105, which is made by Massachusetts company, Textron Systems Corporation. HRW says that it has evidence of the bombs being used at least five times, including an attack in December last year that injured civilians.
“US export law prohibits recipients of cluster munitions from using them in populated areas, as the Saudi coalition has clearly been doing. Second, US export law only allows the transfer of cluster munitions with a failure rate of less than 1 per cent,” the group says, adding that the CBU-150 does not meet that standard.
Textron did not reply to a request for comment.
As much as half of Yemen’s population is facing shortages of food, water and vital medicines, with the UN estimating that 14.4 million people in the country are at risk from starvation.
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