Britain's leading arms manufacturer British Aerospace (BAE) Systems has sold $18.7 billion worth of weapons and services to Saudi Arabia over the past five years while it has been engaged in a war against Yemen.
A report by theGuardian yesterday cited data obtained from BAE's latest annual report which was analysed by Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT). Last year the company received $3.11 billion alone in revenue from Saudi arms sales.
Andrew Smith of CAAT said: "The last five years have seen a brutal humanitarian crisis for the people of Yemen, but for BAE it's been business as usual. The war has only been possible because of arms companies and complicit governments willing to support it."
Despite a ruling by the Court of Appeal in June last year freezing all British arms exports that could be used against Yemen, the sales have continued. The data also reveals the true value of the UK's arms sales to Saudi Arabia which far exceed the £5.3 billion ($6.6 billion) total value of the country's export licenses since March 2015, when the Western-backed coalition launched the military campaign, intended to reinstate the exiled Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.
"These figures expose the cozy relationship between the Saudi regime and BAE. But they also imply that the value of UK arms sales is far greater than government figures show," Smith explained.
The war has claimed the lives of over 100,000 Yemenis, including over 16,000 civilians, according to a report released by Yemen's Legal Centre for Rights and Development on Sunday. The non-combatants killed include 3,901 children and 2,462 women. The airstrikes, the rights group claims, have wounded 41,476 civilians. Hundreds of thousands of non-military targets are said to include houses, mosques, hospitals, schools and ancient monuments.
Last week, it was reported that the Saudis had agreed to halt military operations in support of the UN's call to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Yemen. However both sides have accused the other of violating the ceasefire. An official in the Houthi movement believes the ceasefire announcement was a "ploy" by the Saudis and that any true ceasefire would include a lifting of the ongoing coalition-imposed siege on Yemen.