Britain’s Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn says he will end the UK’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia for use against Yemen if he wins the upcoming general elections.
“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 in the northern English city of York on Sunday, setting out Labour’s potential foreign policy toward Riyadh, which is leading a war of aggression on Yemen.
Britain’s general elections are scheduled to be held on December 12.
The snap vote was approved by legislators supporting Conservative Party leader and Britain’s incumbent Prime Minister Boris Johnson in an attempt to break the UK’s crippling political deadlock by potentially winning a parliamentary majority to enact his Brexit plan.
British arms sales to Saudi Arabia have been a major contributory factor to the conflict in Yemen. Since the war began against the impoverished country in 2015, the UK has licensed the sale of at least 4.7 billion pounds’ (six billion dollars’) worth of arms to Riyadh.
“Labour’s new internationalism means we will create a peace and conflict-prevention fund and invest an extra 400 million pounds (513 million dollars) 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,” Corbyn further said.
Back in June, Johnson’s administration said that it would no longer grant any new licenses for arms export to Saudi Arabia or its partners in the military coalition waging war on Yemen after the Court of Appeal ruled that such sales were “unlawful.”
The ruling came after the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) accused London of licensing weapons sales to Saudis despite a grave risk that their use could breach international humanitarian law.
However, three months later, Secretary of State for International Trade Elizabeth Truss admitted that Britain had breached that court order at least three times since it had been issued.
Britain’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia have significantly strengthened the Saudi-led coalition’s capability to conduct strikes on Yemen.
Saudi Arabia and a number of its allies launched a devastating campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the government of former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and eliminating the Yemeni Houthi Ansarullah movement.
The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the war has claimed more than 100,000 lives since.
Collapsed infrastructure coupled with a partial blockade has also deprived most of the population of clean water and proper healthcare while unleashing the worst cholera outbreak in modern history.
Apart from the UK, Saudi Arabia’s other allies, including the US, have also been providing the kingdom with weapons in its war against Yemen.