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The New Arab

UK must ban arms sales to Saudi Arabia, charity urges

Saudi Arabia is accused of committing war crimes in Yemen [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 October, 2018

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Save the Children has urged the UK government to follow Germany's lead and ban arms sales to Saudi Arabia in the wake of Khashoggi's killing.
Save the Children has urged the UK government to suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia in the wake of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at its consulate in Turkey.

The charity said Britain should follow suit with Germany which suspended weapons sales to Riyadh in the wake of dissident Khashoggi's violent death allegedly at the orders of the Royal court.

"Pressure has been mounting on the UK Government in recent weeks to take a stronger stance on our close relationship with Saudi Arabia. Arms sales is one area Britain can and should review. Saudi Arabia is an ally," said Kevin Watkins, the charity's CEO.

"However, the weight of evidence of violations of international humanitarian law by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen is now so great that it is very difficult to continue to support the Kingdom while maintaining the credibility of our arms licensing regime."

"It's time for the UK Government to join its allies and suspend selling weapons to Saudi Arabia and other members of the coalition until the coalition conducts genuine prosecutions of alleged war crimes by its forces and holds perpetrators to account," he added.

Saudi Arabia's intervention in Yemen, now in its third year, has pushed the war-ravaged country to the brink of the worst famine in 100 years, Save the Children said. Attacks on schools, markets, hospitals and homes have killed countless civilians, with Saudi and UAE-led air strikes found to be responsible for the majority of deaths.

Top German official Peter Altmaier on Monday called for a joint EU position on Saudi Arabia after Berlin backed a freeze on arms exports to Riyadh.

The Khashoggi case has opened a serious new rift with European partners Britain, France and Germany saying in a joint statement earlier that Saudi Arabia must clarify how Khashoggi died inside its Istanbul consulate, and its account must "be backed by facts to be considered credible".

After a fortnight of denials, Saudi authorities admitted on Saturday that Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed after entering the consulate in Turkey on 2 October.

But it has faced a growing chorus of incredulity over its belated explanation that he died in a "brawl", as world powers demand answers and the whereabouts of his body.

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