It is believed that the British government has been made aware of the use of British made cluster bombs in Yemen. The bombs have been said to have been used by the Saudi-led forces in the country. This will add pressure on to defence ministers over Britain’s arms trading with the country, considering that it is common knowledge that Saudi Arabia is involved in proxy wars in the middle east, as was highlighted by under fire foreign secretary Boris Johnson.
Britain’s involvement in the Saudi military set up is well known, as Britain has been assisting in the training of Saudi troops in the war in Yemen. The deals that are done with the regime are thought to be worth a significant figure. But the continuing use of these munitions must surely be unsavoury as there is a convention prohibiting their use as they are extremely hard to target accurately with and are said to pose a significant danger to civilians. The convention against the use of such weapons was ratified in 2008, with over 100 countries agreeing to no longer supply or use them. Though notably Saudi Arabia was not one of those countries.
The Saudi’s themselves have denied using the weapons, claiming their presence is as a result of use before conventions came in to place. Though many independent observers are not buying it, and have accused the regime of flouting internationally approved guidelines.
The Saudi led coalition has been involved in Yemen since 2015, as they try to help the Yemeni government put down a rebellion by the Houthi rebels. If it is proved that these weapons were sold recently then Britain would certainly have some explaining to do as one of the largest countries to sign the convention. Certainly one of the biggest arms producers to do so.
Thus far the Ministry of Defence has not revealed any analysis, but senior government sources have claimed that the government takes these issues seriously and will raise the issue with the Saudi regime.
Though considering the trade between the two countries, these talks will take on something of a light touch, as Britain seeks to not upset a powerful ally in the fractured middle east, as well as trying to not upset a regime that spends vast sums with British companies. The last few weeks have displayed the relationship as Foreign secretary Boris Johnson was forced to eat humble pie after speaking out against the regime.
Joseph is a 34 year old freelance writer from London. He has a wide interest in politics and specialises in the subject. He's also a blog writer in his spare time.