Saudi Ara­bia Hit with Use­less Arms Em­bargo by EU Par­lia­ment

Trillions - - In This Issue -

As Saudi Ara­bia’s geno­ci­dal mil­i­tary cam­paign against Ye­men piles up bod­ies, the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment fi­nally voted to de­mand an arms em­bargo against the bar­baric Mus­lim na­tion…af­ter sell­ing the dic­ta­tor­ship bil­lions of dol­lars’ worth of weapons with the full knowl­edge that it would use them to tar­get civil­ians.

The res­o­lu­tion put for­ward by the Euro­pean Union (EU) called the Saudi coali­tion’s bomb­ings and air at­tacks against Ye­meni civil­ians “war crimes.” The or­ga­ni­za­tion passed the res­o­lu­tion by an al­most 100% vote of 539 for and 13 against. In a pre­pared state­ment af­ter its pas­sage, the par­lia­ment said it “con­demns in the strong­est terms the on­go­ing vi­o­lence in Ye­men and all at­tacks against civil­ians and civil­ian in­fra­struc­ture, which con­sti­tute war crimes.”in a pre­vi­ous state­ment, on Novem­ber 11, the EU said the U.s.-backed, Saudiled mil­i­tary as­sault had ef­fec­tively closed air, sea and land en­try points to Ye­men, which would likely soon lead to a com­plete lack of food and sup­plies of all kinds for those in the coun­try. Even UN life-sav­ing flights had been blocked to the coun­try, adding to the se­ri­ous­ness of the sit­u­a­tion.

As the World Food Pro­gramme noted at the end of Novem­ber, “Ye­men is on the brink of famine. Cholera is com­pound­ing a dra­matic food cri­sis. Food is be­ing used as a weapon of war.”

That weapon has al­ready hurt more than two mil­lion chil­dren through a lack of proper nour­ish­ment. More than 500,000 chil­dren are also hurt or sick (or both), re­quir­ing med­i­cal at­ten­tion just to stay alive.

The Saudi at­tacks on Ye­men started in March 2015 as an at­tempt to sup­port Abd-rabbu Man­sour Hadi, the Saudi pup­pet pres­i­dent who was be­ing chal­lenged di­rectly by Houthi forces seek­ing in­de­pen­dence from U.S. and Saudi dom­i­na­tion while ac­cept­ing lim­ited sup­port from Iran. The Houthi-aligned free­dom fight­ers have been the fo­cus of the Saudis’ rav­aging of the coun­try. Since that time, more than 10,000 civil­ians have been killed and 40,000 in­jured. Hos­pi­tals, schools, roads, wa­ter sup­plies, power sources and more have been de­stroyed in the process. Most of all, those deaths, the maim­ing and the de­struc­tion had lit­tle to do with the po­lit­i­cal fight­ing go­ing on within the coun­try.

The cur­rent res­o­lu­tion also came down hard on mem­bers of the EU who had ef­fec­tively aided the Saudi-led forces “be­hind the scenes.” De­spite EU laws on arms ex­port con­trol, sev­eral EU coun­tries were con­tin­u­ing to au­tho­rize weapons sales, many of which were likely put di­rectly into the hands of those man­ag­ing the slaugh­ter of the Ye­me­nis.

The Bri­tish gov­ern­ment is one of the worst co­con­spir­a­tors in the sit­u­a­tion. In 2015, the year the Saudi at­tacks be­gan, it au­tho­rized up to £3 bil­lion worth of arms to be sold to Saudi Ara­bia. The UK gov­ern­ment has also been ac­cused of more di­rect in­volve­ment, by pro­vid­ing mil­i­tary per­son­nel to help train Saudi forces on their own grounds and op­er­ate ad­vanced weapons sys­tems.

That sup­port con­tin­ues in mul­ti­ple forms today, de­spite the reck­less dam­age it is caus­ing. The United

King­dom’s own Richard Howitt, the Labour MEP who wrote the amend­ment voted on in this ses­sion, said about the cur­rent vote, “This is a clear hu­man­i­tar­ian ap­peal to end the blood­shed in Ye­men and call on Saudi Ara­bia to pur­sue a po­lit­i­cal rather than a mil­i­tary so­lu­tion to the con­flict.” He went on to re­mind all in­volved that “the UK is one of the big­gest sup­pli­ers of arms to Saudi Ara­bia and needs to heed this call, which has been over­whelm­ingly sup­ported across the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum and by a vast cit­i­zen cam­paign.”

Many are doubt­ful that the call will even be heard, let alone heeded. The UK gov­ern­ment is very much con­trolled by the in­ter­na­tional war in­dus­try, just as the U.S. is.

As a mea­sure of the lack of re­solve within the EU, there was an ear­lier draft of the cur­rent res­o­lu­tion that named spe­cific mem­ber states, such as the United King­dom, France, Spain and Ger­many, as coun­tries ac­tively aid­ing the Saudi-led ter­ror­ist at­tacks on Ye­men. To get it passed, the lan­guage was soft­ened con­sid­er­ably. It now reads only that “some EU mem­ber states” have con­tin­ued to au­tho­rize weapons trans­fers and sales to Saudi Ara­bia since the be­gin­ning of the 2015 at­tacks, in di­rect vi­o­la­tion of the EU’S rules on arms con­trol.

The res­o­lu­tion is also non-bind­ing and there­fore mostly mean­ing­less.

De­spite the ap­par­ent una­nim­ity of the EU in con­demn­ing Saudi Ara­bia for its ac­tions, then, the most im­por­tant part of the mes­sage – that EU mem­ber na­tions need to stop feed­ing the Saudi war ma­chine against Ye­men – has no teeth. The weapons sales and be­hind-the-scenes train­ing and sup­port will con­tinue.

And the most that the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment will have to say about it is that it doesn’t like what the Saudis are do­ing in Ye­men with the mil­i­tary air­craft, weapons, bul­lets and train­ing. It may make the MEPS feel bet­ter to have con­demned the ac­tions, but it would have been far bet­ter if they had also con­strained their own ac­tions.

Even if the EU stops fuel­ing the atroc­i­ties in Ye­men, the killing will not stop. The United States is by far the largest con­trib­u­tor to the Saudi death ma­chine and is it­self ac­tively wag­ing war against civil­ians in Ye­men on its own. Trump has no in­ten­tion of re­duc­ing these at­tacks against Ye­men, or the arms flow to Saudi Ara­bia or the tax­payer­funded sup­port of the Saudi mil­i­tary. For Trump and his gang, war is merely a very prof­itable busi­ness.

Photo by Omar Cha­tri­wala - Al Jazeera, cc

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