News ID: 198312
Published: 0237 GMT August 09, 2017

Time to rethink UK’s engagement with Saudi Arabia

Time to rethink UK’s engagement with Saudi Arabia
NAIF RAHMA/Reuters/PA Images
People hold a wheelchair recovered from under the wreckage of a house at the site of a Saudi-led airstrike on an outskirt of the northwestern city of Sa’ada, Yemen, on August 4, 2017.

By Sherine El-Taraboulsi & James Firebrace

coalition has been blocking shipments of humanitarian supplies. The humanitarian has been recently described by the UN as the largest humanitarian crisis in the world. As a result of the blockade, 7 million people have been pushed to the brink of famine.

The UK must exert pressure on Saudi Arabia through the UN Security Council to allow food and medical supplies to reach people in need. Satellite technology is key to increasing the effectiveness of surveillance at minimal cost. Opportunities for arms smuggling need to be shut down and vital international shipping lanes protected from disruption.

3. The UK must decisively push for an independent investigation of violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) in Yemen by both sides to the conflict. The Saudi Arabia-led coalition has bombed hospitals and other civilian infrastructure and carried out indiscriminate attacks, killing and injuring civilians so much so that in August 2017, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said it had lost “confidence in the Coalition’s ability to avoid such fatal attacks”.

Failure to hold parties to the conflict accountable to IHL only allows the current absence of accountability to continue unchallenged, compromising the UK as a peace broker in the negotiations.

These proposals are ambitious but consistent with the UK’s public recognition that there is no military solution in Yemen. Peace is the only way forward and the UK needs to raise the game urgently. Past approaches have simply not worked. The scale of Yemen’s unfolding disaster and economic collapse, with all its humanitarian and security implications, call for immediate action.

Excerpts from a larger article published by Open Democracy on August 9.

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