- Sputnik International
Get the latest news from around the world, live coverage, off-beat stories, features and analysis.

Arms Trade Association Dinner With UK Ministers Leaves Bad Taste

© Flickr / Kurtis GarbuttKnife and fork
Knife and fork - Sputnik International
The same day British MPs called for suspension of all arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which has been accused of targeting civilians, government ministers went off for a posh dinner hosted by the arms trade association.

Soldiers stand on a tank of the Saudi-led coalition deployed on the outskirts of the southern Yemeni port city of Aden on August 3, 2015, during a military operation against Shiite Huthi rebels and their allies. - Sputnik International
MPs Call for Immediate Halt to UK-Saudi Arms Sales Amid Conflict in Yemen
MPs released a report calling for action to be taken against Saudi Arabia, Britain’s biggest ally in the Middle East. Yet later that day, Defense Secretary Michael Fallon, along with other ministers attended the Aerospace Defense and Security (ADS) trade association dinner. 

On Wednesday the Parliament’s International Development Committee has called for the suspension of all arms sales to Saudi Arabia following accusations by the United Nations that the Middle Eastern country is contributing to a "humanitarian disaster" in Yemen. 

According to the UN, Saudi Arabia is breaching international law in Yemen but during the first six months of 2016, the British government issued more than 100 export licenses for British arms sold to the Saudis. 

Civilian targets include two international hospitals, a wedding and five schools in Yemen — although Saudi Arabia says it does not target civilians. 

"Tremendous Support" 

According to a report in London newspaper The Independent, the ADS Group posted a statement on social media, saying that Britain’s Defense Secretary had provided “tremendous support” for its operations at the dinner. 

The event hosted by ADS costs US$367 (£252) for members and US$ 677 (£464) for non-members.  Last year’s banquet was attended by over 40 MPs – and an uninvited guest — but The Independent says this year’s attendance numbers are still not known.

A Ministry of Defense spokesman told The Independent:

"It is nonsense to suggest that this engagement is directly linked to exports to one country. This is the annual dinner of a forum that represents hundreds of organizations that sustains tens of thousands of UK jobs across aerospace, space and defense." 

Andrew Smith, spokesman for Campaign Against Arms Trade said:

"The fact that over 40 MPs attended as guests of arms companies and arms trade lobby groups last year is a disgrace and shows the extent of the arms trade’s connections and political lobbying." 

Commenting on the attendance of the ministers to the banquet held the same day MPs called for the suspension of all arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Smith said: 

"The humanitarian crisis in Yemen is getting worse. 14 million Yemeni people are facing food insecurity and 1.4 million children are acutely malnourished."

The British government deny any involvement in Saudi Arabia’s military campaign while MPs, lawyers and human rights campaigners argue that it is unlawful for the UK to be supplying weapons.

To participate in the discussion
log in or register
Заголовок открываемого материала