Our Summary: This Guardian report states UK Defense secretary will be telling the UK parliament about the use of UK made cluster bombs by Saudi Arabia in Yemen against Houthi rebels. The Defence secretary makes the statement after a Amnesty International study found the use of cluster bombs 6 months ago. The UK is a signatory to the convention that bars the use and assistance to use Cluster Munitions. This is a “major embarrassment”, UK and Saudi may be in breach of International humanitarian law.
The UK line of defense in this matter is that the munitions were used against specific targets near the border. Saudi is not a signatory to the international treaty on cluster munitions. The issue highlights UK military involvement in the air campaign in Yemen and if they knew the cluster bombs were being used. The UK MoD has stressed their role as “guidance” and not operational decisions to assist the Saudi military. The last known export of cluster bombs to Saudi was made in the late 1980s. Amnesty International has repeatedly called for the banning of the sale of military hardware to Saudi Arabia.
Over the years UK has been selling “billions and billions pounds” worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia. It is inevitable that some of these weapons would find their way into this war in Yemen, in the form of cluster bombs. Thousands have already been killed in this war on Houthi rebels, with the “Saudi coalition’s reckless and indiscriminate bombing of homes, hospitals, schools and factories”. Amnesty International UK director states that it doesn’t require a full scale investigation to decide that all weapons exports to Saudi Arabia should be stopped.
Our Verdict: The weapons industry and sales will be a grey area in international business, in most cases in our opinion. The use of cluster bombs by governments is not new, see also Israel and Syria. The question is not if they should be used or not, that is clear to those that have signed the international treaty on cluster munitions. The issue is how much blame should be laid upon those manufacturing and exporting such weapons? Without supplies of such weapons governments could not use them, cluster bombs by their very nature are designed to kill indiscriminately with maximum effect. The actual role of the UK government in the Saudi campaign over Yemen will be clear only after a thorough investigation, which may or may not occur.
Key Word: Billions
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