Corbyn says Labour would halt UK's arms sales to Saudi Arabia over Yemen war crimes

Corbyn says Labour would halt UK's arms sales to Saudi Arabia over Yemen war crimes
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says he would invest $513 million in increasing oversight of arms exports if elected.
3 min read
01 December, 2019
A UK court ordered an end to Saudi arms sales in June [Getty]
UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said he would stop British arms sales to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen if elected next week.

Corbyn, who will face off with incumbent Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the UK general election next Thursday, has previously backed an end to Saudi arms sales for use in Yemen, telling parliament earlier this year there was "overwhelming evidence" that Saudi forces had committed war crimes in the war-torn country.

"Labour will stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen and work to end the war there, not actively support it as the Conservative government has done," the Labour party leader said in a speech on Sunday according to Reuters.

The UK licensed £5.3 million ($6.9 million) worth of arms sales to Riyadh between March 2015 and March 2019, amounting to almost a 50 percent increase on the value of arms licenses, which stood at £3.8 million prior to the Yemen conflict. 

Despite a UK court in June ordering an end to arms exports to Saudi Arabia that could be used in Yemen, the government has twice admitted to "accidentally" licensing weapons to the kingdom since.

"Labour's new internationalism means we will create a peace and conflict-prevention fund and invest an extra 400 million pounds ($513 million) to expand our diplomatic capacity and increase oversight of arms exports to ensure we're not fuelling conflicts, as in Yemen and in Israel and the Palestinian territories," Corbyn said in the speech in the northern city of York.

The UK issued licenses for £364 million ($471 million) worth of military equipment to Israel between 2014 and 2018, according to the Campaign Against Arms Trade.

Corbyn is a staunch critic of Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

"Labour stands behind the international consensus of a genuine two-state solution – a secure Israel alongside a secure and viable state of Palestine," he said on Sunday according to The Guardian.

"That's why Labour supports an end to half a century of Israeli occupation and the illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, and a Labour government will recognise the state of Palestine."

The Labour leader also slammed US President Donald Trump for his "unconditional support for the Israeli far-right", as well as accusing him of "climate change denial" and "taking the world on a dangerous path". 

Corbyn drew particular attention among the British public and press in his Sunday speech by claiming the Iraq war and other British military interventions abroad had incubated extremist violence.

"Sixteen years ago, I warned against the invasion and occupation of Iraq. I said it would set off a spiral of conflict, hate, misery, desperation that will fuel the wars, the conflict, the terrorism and the misery of future generations," he said.

"It did, and we are still living with the consequences today."

The comments came two days after two people were killed in a stabbing attack in central London claimed by the Islamic State group.

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