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After dozens of beheadings, The European Parliament has voted for an EU-wide arms export embargo against Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has been accused of bombing civilians with European-made equipment during in its war in Yemen


The European Parliament has voted in favour of an EU-wide embargo on selling arms to Saudi Arabia.

A resolution calling for a ban on all weapons sales to the country was passed by 359 votes to 212, with 31 MEPs abstaining.

The non-binding motion calls on member states to stop selling weapons to the country, which is currently conducting a widely-criticised military operation in neighbouring Yemen marked by high civilian casualties.

Criticism of the country’s military operation have however included the bombing of multiple hospitals run by the charity Médecins Sans Frontières and the deaths of thousands of civilians, including 130 at a single wedding.

While international observers have recognised abuses on all sides, in late December UN human rights chief Zeid Raad al-Hussein said that a “disproportionate” number of attacks of civilians in Yemen had come from the Saudi-led invasion force.

“I have observed with extreme concern the continuation of heavy shelling from the ground and the air in areas with high a concentration of civilians as well as the perpetuation of the destruction of civilian infrastructure – in particular hospitals and schools – by all parties to the conflict, although a disproportionate amount appeared to be the result of airstrikes carried out by Coalition forces,” Mr Zeid said.

The UN has also said Saudi Arabia is contributing to a “humanitarian disaster” in Yemen.

The Government must approve all arms exports by UK companies abroad. Overall UK licences granted to military equipment to the country are £6.7 billion since David Cameron took office in 2010 and £2.8 billion since the bombing of Yemen began.

Recent opinion polling by Opinium found that 62 per cent of UK adults oppose arms sales to Saudi Arabia, with only 16 per cent supporting them.

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said the sale of European weapons to the region was fuelling the war in the region and that EU member states should listen to the European Parliament.

“The European Parliament has sent a clear, strong and much needed message to governments like the UK, that have been complicit in the destruction of Yemen,” he said.

“The toxic combination of arms sales and political support has helped to fuel, facilitate and legitimise the humanitarian catastrophe that is taking place.”

Alyn Smith, a Scottish National Party MEP involved in the tabling the motion, said Europe had a duty to the civilians of Yemen being killed by Saudi Arabian weaponry.

An MSF hospital at Haydan in Yemen after a Saudi Arabian air strike
“I have a close association with Saudi Arabia. I grew up there and I am sensitive to the realities of the Saudis and appreciate that the Saudis have concerns in their neighbourhood,” Mr Smith said.

“But our duty is to the civilians in Yemen, and given widespread and very valid concerns over the conduct


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