As we approach the global day of action for Yemen on Monday 25 January, Jamal Elaheebocus describes the humanitarian catastrophe inflicted by Saudi Arabia with US and UK support.

The war in Yemen has been raging for almost six, devastating years, after the Houthis seized the capital Sana’a and the Saudi-led coalition began its deadly intervention in March 2015.

The number of people who have been killed is uncertain but we know over 100,000 people, likely many more, have been killed, including tens of thousands killed by the deadly famine caused by the war and the blockades on Yemen. 17,500 civilians have been killed or injured directly due to the conflict since 2015, over three-quarters of the population are food insecure and millions are on the brink of famine.

Yemen has experienced a cholera outbreak since 2016, with over 2 million people being infected. Now the country’s shattered health system is dealing with coronavirus, the spread of which is largely unknown due to the lack of testing.

Yemen has been declared the world’s worst humanitarian disaster. But this disaster has been caused by the Saudi-led war backed by the West.

British and American arms sales to Saudi Arabia have fuelled the devastating conflict. The UK has licensed over £4.7 billion of arms exports since the start of the Saudi intervention in Yemen.

These arms sales were declared unlawful in 2019, after successful court action by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade. However, despite then International Trade Secretary Liam Fox’s promise that no new licenses would be granted to Saudi Arabia, these have been granted.

Britain’s involvement doesn’t end at arms sales. RAF personnel work with the Saudis to coordinate air strikes, which have targeted weddings, funerals and school buses. British engineers maintain the planes, British-trained pilots fly the planes and BAE Systems, the main company producing weapons sold to Saudi Arabia, have 6,300 contractors in Saudi Arabia.

One BAE employee said in 2019: “If we weren’t there, in seven to fourteen days there wouldn’t be a jet in the sky.”

US arms sales are even greater than the UK’s. In 2017, Trump signed a deal with Saudi Arabia to provide arms worth $110 billion immediately and $350 billion over the next 10 years.

Joe Biden has promised to end arms sales to Saudi Arabia. This is a vital step to ending Western support for the war and ending the devastating conflict. Therefore, it is vital that we put pressure on Biden to stick to his promise and withdraw US support for this devastating conflict.

Anti-war groups in the UK including Stop the War have called a day of action against the war in Yemen this Monday, 25th January. Over 300 organisations from 17 countries have signed the call to action so far, making this the biggest international anti-war coordination since the campaign against the Iraq war in 2003.

Here’s how to get involved:

  • Ask your MP to pressure Dominic Raab and Liz Truss to end all arms sales to the Saudi-led coalition using this online tool.
  • Help promote the day of action using this toolkit.
  • Join the student rally on Monday 25th January at 5pm, featuring Andrew Feinstein and Ahmed al-Batati. Register here.
  • Join the global online rally, featuring Jeremy Corbyn, Danny Glover, Yanis Varoufakis and others from across the world, on Monday 25th January at 7pm. You can register here.

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