GeneralMiddle East

We offer prayers for victims on one side of the world and sell bombs to fuel war on the other

According to the Office of Human Commissioner for Human Rights, as of 24th September, 2,355 Yemeni civilians have been killed, primarily due to Saudi Arabian led airstrikes. Attacks include a coalition led bombing of a wedding party, killing over 130 civilians in one strike, as well as destroying a Medecins Sans Frontier (MSF) associated hospital, despite being given the GPS co-ordinates and MSF logo painted on the roof. With all this brutal shelling over Yemen, it is not surprising that Saudi’s arsenal is depleted, as highlighted by the Defense Security Coorperation Agency explaining the depletion is “due to the high operational tempo in multiple counter-terrorism operations.” What is surprising, however, is the United States, the ‘land of the free’, approval of selling USD 1.29bn worth of smart bombs to the Gulf State.

Due to the ongoing Saudi bombardment and control of Yemeni borders, the Yemeni healthcare system has suffered greatly. According to the World Healthcare Organisation (WHO), the Yemeni healthcare system is on the verge of collapse with adverse effects on Yemen’s poorest. Prices of medicine have risen by over 300%. Yemen was struck by cyclone Chapala 2 weeks ago where the healthcare system was unable to cope with the serious consequences of the natural disaster.

Corruption Watch UK explains that studies show that 40% of global corruption in trade is due to arms trade. The extent of corruption relating to arms trade with Saudi Arabia dates as far back to when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister of UK and the British government took over £6bn worth of bribes in order to force through a weapons deal with Saudi. During this war in Yemen, where Saudi controls which planes go in and out of Yemen, a war where journalists are barely allowed to report, do we really think that there is no corruption on the side of Saudi?

Saudi Arabia is one of the largest exporters of terrorism. Let us not forget that 15 of the 19 terrorist involved in the 9/11 attacks were citizens of Saudi Arabia. Even recently, during a prayer sermon in Mecca, the Imam of the mosque publicly prayed for the success of the Jihadists over “Shia, the Jewish traitors and the hateful Christians.” This barbaric Wahabi ideology, where a belief of anything other than their specific interpretation of Islam warrants murder, is the theological backdrop to organisations such as Daesh (ISIS) and Al-Qaeda. Yet, we still prop up this savage country due to its apparent co-operation in transferring essential security intel to the West (read as; co-operation with cheap oil deals), according to David Cameron. Furthermore, the oil-rich nation has been known to help fund terrorism, be it directly or through wealthy citizens, terrorism including Daesh. It is important to highlight that Saudi Arabia did not intervene in Yemen when Al-Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) took control of vast swathes of Yemeni territory. What’s ironic is that on one hand, in Syria, Saudi has been funding and arming the rebels Syria under the vice of democracy, yet in Yemen, Saudi has acted to silence the rebels.

I have yet to even mention the human rights abuses within its own nation. Can we expect a state where civil liberties are denied to care for human rights during war? Activists such as Sheikh Al-Nimr are awaiting the death penalty, woman cannot leave their homes without the permission of the “man of the house”, bloggers who criticize the government face lashing and women are not allowed to drive, let alone vote. Actually, who am I kidding? It’s a theocracy, no citizen is allowed an opinion, you know, unless they are willing to run the risk of crucifixion. Crucifixion you ask? Yes, apparently that’s still a legitimate punishment in 2015.

Following the Parisian attacks, almost shockingly, the Saudi king denounced the attacks on the soils of France despite the hate that is preached from the religious elite of the country. He did, however, not denounce the bombings in the neighbouring cities of Baghdad and Beirut over the same 24-hour period as the Paris attacks. Hypocrisy runs deep in a country that teaches anti-Semitism in not only high schools across Arabia but also in Saudi funded schools in London.

If we, as Western nations, even feel an ounce of solidarity with the French over the vicious attacks, if we are truly against terrorism, then we should start by refusing to allow this vile arms deal to go through. We must campaign to our governments to think twice. We light candles to remember fallen victims on one side of the world, then fuel oppression on the other.