MPs voted by 368 to 221 to back an embargo against the autocratic petrostate, whose intervention in Yemen has been blamed for causing thousands of civilian deaths and exacerbating a severe shortage of food.
The UK is one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest arms suppliers, having sold £4.6 billion worth of controlled arms since the bombardment of Yemen started in 2015. Of that figure, £1.9 billion is said by the Government to be bombs or missiles and £2.7 billion worth is aircraft.
20.7 million people in Yemen are in need of humanitarian assistance in the country, with over 7 million on the verge famine.
The country is being wracked by a civil war between the Saudi-backed and internationally recognised government and Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.
Saudi forces have been widely accused of committing war crimes during the campaign in the country, where reports on the ground suggest they have blown up international hospitals, funerals, schools, and weddings. Peace talks led by the UN have been frozen since August 2016 after no agreement was made.
Speaking in a debate ahead of the vote, Christos Stylianides, the European Commissioner for humanitarian aid, told the Parliament that Saudi Arabia was preventing aid from getting through despite a looming famine.
“We do understand Saudi Arabia’s security concerns. At the same time the new measures taken by the Coalition are having a severe impact on the delivery of lifesaving assistance,” he said.
“Commercial goods cannot enter the areas beyond the government’s control. most Yemenis no longer have the means to get food or fuel. Such escalation has worsened an already dire humanitarian situation.”
Victor Boștinaru, a Socialist group MEP, said: “In Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the world, war and famine continue will impunity, and civilians die under bombs of one of the richest countries in the world, Suaid Arabia, the country we are continuing to sell arms to and offer support.
“The other side of the story is that while we are turning a blind eye and while some are shamefully choosing sides, Saudi Arabia and Iran are turning Yemen into a misery.”
MEPs backed the call for an arms embargo (REUTERS)
Crucially the centre-right European People’s Party did not back the motion calling for the arms embargo, though it did support a less specific motion calling for a new round of peace negotiations.
The Parliament's renewal of a call follows the call by two British parliamentary committees which also called for a ban.
The Prime Minister on Thursday defended her friendly visit to Saudi Arabia, telling reporters who accompanied her on her visit that she was “very concerned about the humanitarian situation in Yemen” but that “building our relationship with [Saudi Arabia] enables us to get that greater knowledge and understanding which enables us to address issues which are of concern to us”.
Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: “The European Parliament has sent a clear, strong and unambiguous message to governments like the UK, that have been utterly complicit in the destruction of Yemen. European arms have played a central role in the bombardment. The situation has become even worse over recent months with the devastating blockade of Yemeni ports, and the worst cholera outbreak on record.
Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn pleads guilty to lying to the FBI about reaching out to the Russians in 2016. But he did so at the president's urging on behalf of Israel, to quash a Security Council resolution against settlements the Obama administration was allowing to pass. The Russians ignored Flynn's advice. And the Israel lobby is still the elephant in the room.
After Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted a photograph of himself with a smiling Senator Kamala Harris, a progressive looks into her record on the Muslim ban, immigration reform, and Medicare for all and finds it stellar. Then discovers her unabashed support for Israel and is shocked.
Israeli settlers from the illegal Yash Kod settlement outpost raided Palestinian lands near Qusra and shot and killed a farmer, Mahmoud Ahmad Zaal Odeh, 48, as he was working the land. The same day an Israeli soldier was killed by a stabbing in Arad, in the Negev.
Israeli consul general Dani Dayan warns American Jews that recent differences with Israel must not lead to a divorce from that country. "We may be Jewish but our marriage is Catholic, there is no divorce in our marriage. We may need a lot and apparently we do need a lot of marital counseling, but-- no divorce in our marriage," he said.
A ban by Israel on herding black goats – on the pretext they cause environmental damage – is to be repealed after nearly seven decades of enforcement that has decimated the pastoral traditions of Palestinian communities. The Israeli government appears to have finally conceded that, in an age of climate change, the threat of forest fires to Israeli communities is rapidly growing in the goats’ absence. Jonathan Cooks writes that the story of the lowly black goat, which has been almost eliminated from Israel, is not simply one of unintended consequences. It serves as a parable for the delusions and self-destructiveness of a Zionism bent on erasing Palestinians and creating a slice of Europe in the Middle East.
In this moment of nuclear proliferation, police brutality, resurgent Nazism, and stunning inequality, Zionists have managed to find the real enemy: a children’s book. The offending title is 'P is for Palestine', and Zionists have reacted as if it’s the Hamas charter. Why? Simply put, nothing threatens Israel more than the survival of Palestinian identity through successive generations, which is exactly what 'P is for Palestine' tries to accomplish.
(english below) De Tweede Kamer beslist op 4 december over het verlengen van de oorlogsmissies in Mali en Afghanistan en later over die in Irak. Het kabinet gaat de krijgsmacht hiervoor versterken, in plaats van te kiezen voor vrede door diplomatie en een eerlijke internationale economie èn voor een goed klimaatbeleid.
Deze regering wil de Nederlandse defensiebegroting dit jaar namelijk met 900 miljoen euro verhogen, en daarna elk jaar nog eens met 1,5 miljard. Terwijl op jeugdzorg, ouderenzorg en onderwijs onverantwoord veel is bezuinigd.
Nederland blijft wapens over de hele wereld exporteren en blijft meedoen aan oorlogsmissies. Deze interventie-oorlogen dragen niets bij aan vrede en veiligheid. Integendeel! Zij hebben vele slachtoffers en vluchtelingen tot gevolg. Ze verdedigen de toegang tot belangrijke grondstoffen en de winsten van grote bedrijven. Ze vergroten de armoede en verminderen vrijheid en democratie in de betreffende landen maar ook hier. Er ontstaat een sfeer van onveiligheid die vijandbeelden voedt en racisme aanwakkert en haat in onze harten brengt. Vluchtelingen zijn wat ons betreft van harte welkom, maar beter is het voorkomen van nog meer vluchtelingen. Stop daarom de oorlogsmissies.
Kom op 3 december om 15:00 uur naar het Spui bij ’t Lieverdje om te laten zien wat wij allen denken: GOEDE OORLOGEN BESTAAN NIET!
Sprekers onder meer Geeske Hovingh (Wereldhuis), Roel Walraven (N-bom activist jaren '80), Wendela de Vries (Stop Wapenhandel), Rob Marijnissen ( vakbond en vredesstrijd), Abou Menehbi (anti racisme comité 21 maart) Muziek van onder meer Worldhouse Fusion Band (Afrika) en Karim Mounir (allochtonenblues)
STOP THE WAR MISSIONS
On December 4th the Dutch parliament will decide on prolonging the war missions in Mali and Afghanistan and later on the one in Iraq. The government will enforce the armed forces for this, instead of choosing for peace by dimplomacy, by a fair international economy and a good climate policy.
This government wants to increase the Dutch defense budget this year by 900 million euros, and then by an annual 1.5 billion for the coming years. While budgets for child protection, eldercare and education have been largely reduced.
The Netherlands continues to export arms around the world and continues to participate in war missions. These intervention wars do not contribute to peace and security. On the contrary! They result in many victims and refugees. They are defending access to raw materials and profits of large companies. They increase poverty and reduce freedom and democracy in the countries concerned, but also in our own country. An atmosphere of insecurity is emerging that feeds enemy images and raises racism and brings hate into hearts. We say refugees are welcome, but it is better to prevent that they need to flee. Therefor stop the war missions.
Join us at December 3 at 3:00 pm on Spui at 't Lieverdje to show what we all think: GOOD WARS DO NOT EXIST! Speeches amongst others by Geeske Hovingh (Wereldhuis), Roel Walraven (N-bom activist '80), Wendela de Vries (Stop Wapenhandel), Rob Marijnissen ( trade union and peace activism), Abou Menehbi (anti racism comitee 21 maart) Music amongst others by Worldhouse Fusion Band (Africa) en Karim Mounir (migration blues)