ANTI-ARMS TRADE campaigners branded Defence Secretary Michael Fallon “disgraceful” yesterday after he called on MPs to stop criticising Saudi Arabia so that Britain can sell more weapons to the brutal theocracy.
Mr Fallon told the Commons defence committee that criticism of the Gulf kingdom and its brutal bombardment of Yemen was a hindrance to British arms sales. He said that Parliament needed to do “everything possible” to ensure that Saudi Arabia signs a deal to buy a second batch of Eurofighter jets after his visit to the country last month.
Britain has licensed an incredible £3.8 billion of arms sales to Saudi forces since the bombing of Yemen began in March 2015. Campaigners failed to win a judicial review halting the exports earlier this year amid allegations of war crimes being committed in Yemen, where more than 10,000 people have been killed and millions displaced.
The United Nations said Yemen was suffering from the “world’s worst cholera outbreak” and blamed it on the bombing campaign.
Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: “These comments from the Secretary of State for Defence are disgraceful. He is calling on other parliamentarians to join him in putting arms sales ahead of human rights, democracy and international humanitarian law.
“The Saudi regime has one of the most appalling human rights records in the world, and has inflicted a terrible humanitarian catastrophe on Yemen.
“Fallon should be doing all he can to stop the bloodshed and end UK complicity in the suffering, not urging his colleagues to willingly ignore the abuses in order to sell even more weapons.
”Arms sales to human rights-abusing regimes like Saudi Arabia would not be possible without the support of ministers like Fallon.”