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After U.S. Vote To End War in Yemen, When Will Britain Follow Suit?

  • U.S. Congress votes to end all support for the war in Yemen.
  • Trump expected to veto to move.
  • British still supporting the war.

The United States Congress has voted to follow the lead of the Senate and vote to end all support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, rejecting a central foreign policy aim of the Trump Administration.

While President Trump is expected to veto the move, the vote comes as a strong rebuke to the Presidency as Congress shows an increasing willingness to not only use rarely or never-before-used powers but also to challenge the American President’s volatile and controversial foreign policy agenda.

“The president will have to face the reality that Congress is no longer going to ignore its constitutional obligations when it comes to foreign policy”

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY)

But when will British lawmakers take their own steps to question and rebuke similar policies from the Conservative government?

While the British government officially claims that it has no direct involvement in the war in Yemen, the evidence speaks to the contrary with at least five members of the Special Boat Service injured in recent weeks following direct confrontations with Houthi rebels and the revelation that British forces are maintaining the Saudi aircraft involved in the bombing campaign on Yemen, aircraft that were sold to the Gulf State by Britain.

A Woman in Black protester in central London hands out leaflets highlighting Britain’s arms exports to Saudi Arabia and how they “fuel the conflict” and humanitarian crisis in Yemen. | Alisdare Hickson

While British forces may indeed not be involved in the conflict as a fighting force, they are enabling the genocide being waged upon Yemen through not only the supply and maintenance of Saudi equipment, not only through the training and oversight being given, but through the lack of British condemnation of Saudi Arabian actions.

The British government has sanctioned the sale of £4.3 billion worth of weapons and equipment to Saudi Arabia since the beginning of the conflict in 2015. These sales include the Typhoon fighter, missiles, components and the expertise to maintain these arms. It is said that without British support, the war in Yemen could not continue.

Protest against the welcoming of Mohammad bin Salman at Downing Street | Alisdare Hickson

Theresa May and foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt have so far resisted calls to fully and publically explain Britain’s exact role in the conflict, Armed Forces Minister Mark Lancaster claiming that the RAF provides “engineering support”  and “generic training” to the Saudis.

Jeremy Hunt has been notably disingenuous as he attempts to broker a peace deal involving the very people who are suffering through his government’s actions, giving a public face of benevolence while the government rolls in Saudi Arabian money. It was just last year that Hunt suggested that British lives were more important than Yemeni lives, emphasising the importance of the military alliance with Saudi Arabia and that this relationship “stops bombs going off on the streets of Britain”.

Jeremy Hunt speaks to the BBC on Britain’s culpability in 2018

There have been calls from all sides of the political spectrum to end Britain’s involvement in Yemen. In continuing this conflict, with full knowledge that both Britain’s role is essential and that Saudi Arabia has been implicated in war crimes, Britain is open to a charge of aiding and abetting these same war crimes.

When will Britain follow the lead of the United States Senate and Congress and allow a vote on Britain’s role in Yemen?


Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) Statistics

  • 80,000 killed since the beginning of the conflict.
  • 30,000 killed in 2018 alone.
  • 3.3 million people remain displaced in the country.
  • 20 million people across Yemen are suffering from hunger.
  • 240,000 people are living in famine-like conditions.
  • 177,000 people have fled from Yemen into neighbouring countries.

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