A UK court has ruled to hear an appeal by campaigners aiming to prevent the export of arms by the British government to Saudi Arabia. The case is targeting to stop the UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia to prevent their use in the Yemen War. After losing the case last year the group called the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), took the case to the Court of Appeal, which has decided to hear the case in the months coming.
Last July, the campaign group claimed that British made fighters jets, bombs and other ammunition were being used by the Saudi led military in the Yemen conflict. The case seeks to block the export licenses of these arms. It is also challenging the decision made last year by the High Court, that was the licenses for arms exports are lawful from Britain to Saudi Arabia. The spokesperson of the CAAT, Andrew Smith said the sales were immoral, adding “The Saudi-led bombardment of Yemen has killed thousands of people and created one of the worst humanitarian disasters in the world, despite this, the Saudi regime has been armed and supported every step of the way by successive UK governments. We believe that these arms sales are immoral and are confident that the Court of Appeal will agree that they are unlawful”.
The conflict between Saudi Arabia and the Yemen group called the Houthis has now gone for three years. Houthi movement championed by the Shia Muslim minority that fought and quickly gained control in Yemen alarmed the Sunni majority, Saudi Arabia. Since then, the Saudis and other Sunni Arab states began to target the group by the air campaign. Abroad, US, UK, and France are providing the Saudis with logistical and intelligence support. The tension between Sunni and Shia sect is rooted in the Middle Eastern history. Sunnis who have always been the dominating ones, refuse to let the other sect be in any power of control in the Arab countries.
Thousands of air raids have been conducted against the Houthis, unfortunately claiming the lives of hundreds of civilians in schools, markets, and hospitals, making two million people displaced. Yet, the Saudi government denies targeting civilians. The conflict has brought Yemen widespread famine and cholera epidemic, infecting about a million people. The United Nations said the blocking of supplies has caused food shortages, creating world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Conversely, these disasters are not going through to Britain’s Department for International Trade, who said that they will defend the High court decision. A spokesman said, “We remain confident that the UK operates one of the most robust export control regimes in the world and will continue to defend the decisions being challenged, we keep our defense exports under careful review to ensure they meet the rigorous standards of the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria”.
The case going to the court on the grounds of morality makes it a confident case as morality is an important influence on laws of a society. Hopefully, the case is the first of the events to come to stop this bloody conflict and deliver some means of justice to the civilians.