Yemen

Part of Concentrix – in the House of Commons at 6:17 pm on 26th October 2016.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of George Kerevan George Kerevan Scottish National Party, East Lothian 6:17 pm, 26th October 2016

I would not only accept that, but go further and say that it is undermining the Saudi case for trying to create a stable Government and a stable political position in Yemen. Crispin Blunt introduced a new doctrine: the doctrine of intent. He said that we should look at the intent of the Saudis and, since they say they are doing good things and they want peace and security, we should consider that to be enough. Let us look at the intent of the Saudi Government. They have not signed up to the international convention on cluster weapons. If they do not want to use them, I would have expected them to sign up to it. In fact, as we all know, they have been using them—air-launched and ground-launched cluster weapons. I know that the Houthis on the other side are using them as well, but we are talking about a massive, western-funded, western-armed coalition versus a small group of rebels. That is disproportionate.

If we look at which cluster weapons have been found by human rights organisations across Yemen, we can see that they are not just the BL755 cluster weapons manufactured in Britain, but the CBU-105s, CBU-87s and CBU-58s manufactured in the United States. They have been found to have been used in at least five provinces in Yemen. Here is the thing: the American cluster weapons were sold to Saudi Arabia 20-odd years ago. I do not know how they got there or who used them, but it is surprising that all the types of cluster bomb weapons supplied to the Saudis about 20 years ago—in the 1980s and 1990s—have been found to have been used comprehensively and across the whole of Yemen. That deserves an investigation, which is what our amendment asks for.

The test of what Saudi Arabia is doing is not intent, but whether there is on balance a risk that humanitarian law has been broken. I put it to the House that there is ample evidence of that. How do we get the attention of the Saudi regime? That is at the core of the proposal in the SNP amendment, which has not been selected, to call for an immediate withdrawal of current sales of weapons to Saudi Arabia. To respond to the hon. Members for South Ribble (Seema Kennedy) and for Fylde (Mark Menzies), our proposal is not to stop all arms sales in perpetuity. We are trying to get the attention of the Saudi regime, which cannot put its own ground troops into Yemen. The real secret is that the regime cannot trust to using its own ground troops—it keeps them at home to protect the regime, which has no democratic legitimacy—so it uses its air force, which has very close links to the royal family, in a consistently indiscriminate way.

Hon. Members have repeatedly mentioned the bombing of the funeral. It was the funeral of a leading Houthi Minister and a lot of Houthi Ministers were expected to be at it, so one suspects that it was not quite the accident that it has been made out to be. There have been repeated cases of civilians being killed in missile and bomb attacks in places where Houthi leaders were expected. My point is that calling for an investigation and for a halt to arms sales in the short term is a way of getting the attention of the Saudi regime to ensure a ceasefire and a permanent solution to this crisis.