EU under mounting pressure to ban arms sales to Saudi Arabia

guardian

The European Union is under mounting pressure from MEPs to ban arms sales to Saudi Arabia in response to the Gulf state’s bombing campaign in Yemen.

The leaders of four political groups in the European parliament have urged the EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, to propose an EU arms embargo on Saudi Arabia, because of the devastating war in Yemen that has left nearly 20 million people in need of humanitarian aid.

In a letter to Mogherini, seen by the Guardian, the MEP leaders accuse the EU of flouting its own rules, by selling weapons to Saudi Arabia in defiance of a 2008 common code on military exports. Mogherini has the right to propose an arms embargo, but would need to win the backing of EU member states, including the UK, one of the biggest arms exporters to the Gulf kingdom.

The latest call for a ban would run into immediate opposition from the British defence secretary, Michael Fallon, who urged MPs on Wednesday not to criticise Saudi Arabia in the interests of a fighter jet deal.

The EU code on arms exports lists eight grounds for turning down an arms export licence, including respect for the obligations of international organisations, such as the UN. In particular EU member states must show “special caution and vigilance” when issuing licences to countries where serious violations of human rights have been established by the UN or other bodies…

Read more : The Guardian, 26.10.2017