The Ministry of Defence put out a bragging tweet that will make you feel physically sick

Aftermath of Saudi-led bombing in Yemen
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At least 29 children were killed in Yemen as the UK-backed Saudi-led coalition bombed a bus returning from a picnic.

As people continued to digest the horrific news of Saudi-led bombing runs in Yemen, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) sent out a tasteless tweet celebrating UK ‘defence’ sales around the world.

Government statistics show Saudi Arabia is the UK arms trade’s largest customer.

MoD ‘celebrating’

News of the Saudi airstrike on the northern Yemeni province Saada broke on 9 August. And the atrocity has led to renewed calls for the UK to halt arms sales to the Gulf state.

But just one day later, on 10 August, the MoD chose to celebrate an article showing the increase in arms sales from the UK:

The tweet linked to a webpage promoting an article in the Telegraph showing a 53% increase in UK arms exports, bringing the total to £9bn in 2017. The figures came from the government’s Defence and Security Organisation. But the Telegraph article omitted to name Saudi Arabia as a factor in this increase.

The tweet from the MoD received criticism immediately, with journalist Mark Curtis highlighting the reality behind the figures:

Growth in Saudi arms sales

Since the Saudi-led coalition commenced bombing Yemen in 2015, the UK has licensed at least £4.7 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia. According to Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT), this has included:

  • £2.7 billion worth of ML10 licences (Aircraft, helicopters, drones).
  • £1.9 billion worth of ML4 licences (Grenades, bombs, missiles, countermeasures).

Andrew Smith of CAAT claimed that the UK has been “utterly complicit” in the Yemen attacks. He said:

Those responsible must be held fully accountable. Thousands of people have been killed in this terrible war, and many more will be as long as the bombardment continues.

The UK government has been utterly complicit in the destruction. It has armed and supported the Saudi-led coalition right from the start. The death toll has spiralled, and the humanitarian crisis has only got worse, and yet the arms sales have continued.

Reaction and calls to halt sales

There was widespread condemnation of the Saudi-led attacks on social media. Especially the UK’s complicity in them:

Despite the growing pressure, some sections of the UK’s political sphere have stayed silent. But many continued to get the message across:

The tweet from the MoD shows a real disregard towards the children and civilians killed this week. With atrocities being perpetrated by UK backed regimes, it is surely crucial to have an honest and frank debate about the UK’s role in global conflict.

Get Involved!

– Write to your local MP about Britain’s silence on Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuses.

– Read more of the Canary’s coverage of the crisis in Yemen

Featured image via screengrab

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