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.
Welcome call to halt UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen from @CommonsIDC today https://t.co/DgYgDVO6pJ— Amnesty UK (@AmnestyUK) February 3, 2016
Civilian targets include two international hospitals, a wedding and five schools in Yemen — although Saudi Arabia says it does not target civilians.
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.
Tremendous support for all our industries from SoS for defence, Michael Fallon at our dinner this evening.— ADS Group (@ADSgroupUK) February 2, 2016
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.