12,000 Yemeni civilians lie dead due to mass airstrikes, many of which are illegal. Like many figures from the various conflicts in the middle East this may seem like just that, a figure. We have become numb to the various trails of destruction in the region. This particular atrocity was committed by a brutal dictatorship which takes part in beheadings, crucifixions and the vicious oppression of women. Not to mention the exportation of a radical Islam ideology. 

All of these things seem depressingly typical of the dreadful regimes that hold power in the region, to such an extent that these are no longer particularly newsworthy. Of course our government finds all of these things abhorrent and seeks their eradication.

Except in the case of Saudi Arabia. You see if they want to buy our weapons then these things seemingly aren't an issue. 

Just to put Saudi Arabia's tyranny into context, Freedom in the World, a yearly survey by American NGO Freedom House which measures the civil liberties of every country and disputed territory in the world only ranks 10 countries as distinctly worse than Saudi Arabia. It has the equal second lowest score of any of the countries ranked With Political Rights score of 7 (1 being best & 7 worst) and Civil Liberties of 6 (1 being best and 7 worst). Only Tibet, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Myanmar, North Korea, Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, Equitorial Guinea and Libya are worse. 

Since 2010 this country with such an abysmal human rights record has been issued with £6.7billion of export licenses by our government (£2.9 billion since the #Conflict in Yemen began). The fact is we are arming them to the teeth, a fact that should be a matter of national shame.

Although abhorrent none of this is illegal in itself. However untargeted Saudi airstrikes are and 32 different ones have been, but Britain bears no official wrongdoing for this. What involves us though is their use of British made cluster bombs dropped from planes that we sold them, serviced by engineers we dedicate to them. It is this that takes our relationship with Saudi Arabia from unpalatable to unacceptable.

Britain ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions in 2007 which made them illegal and have destroyed all stocks on home territory. Unfortunately our friends in Saudi Arabia did not do the same and stocks from the '70s, '80s and '90s remain. As a result British made cluster bombs are being dropped on innocent civilians in Yemen. Recently Amnesty researchers came across a partially unexploded BL-755 model made by British manufacturer Hunting Engineering Limited. This confirmed what many had suspected to be true.

This type of Bomb is designed to be dropped out of Tornado Aircraft, many of which we have also sold to the Saudi Arabian government. Add this to the several hundred specialist support personnel which we provide to the Royal Saudi Air Force and we have potential claims of illegality on the grounds of failing to observe our legal responsibility set out in the legal ban on cluster bombs.

Whether or not Britain is culpable for this outrage, legally or morally, one thing is for sure and that is that any respectable government would stop dealing arms with this barbaric nation. Over to you Mrs May. 

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