US Senate to vote to block arms sale to 3 Arab countries

US Senate to vote to block arms sale to 3 Arab countries

Government figures analyzed by CAAT show that Britain, which accounts for 23 percent of arms imports to Saudi Arabia, has licensed almost £5 billion ($6.4 billion, 5.6 billion euros) in weapons to the kingdom since its Yemen campaign began in 2015.

But the court's ruling does not mean arms-sales licenses must be suspended, only that the government "must reconsider the matter".

Demonstrators react outside the Court of Appeal after the result in the court case regarding the judgment of a legal battle by campaigners to challenge the United Kingdom government's decision to grant licences for the export of arms to Saudi Arabia in London, Britain June 20, 2019.

The judges accused Ministers Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt, and Liam Fox of having illegally authorized weapons sales to Saudi Arabia in 2016 without assessing whether the sales would pose a risk to civilians or have other humanitarian consequences.

A spokeswoman for Prime Minister Theresa May said the government was "disappointed" and would be seeking permission to appeal against the judgment.

The court accepted the challenge brought by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) that accused the United Kingdom government of licensing the arms sale when there is a clear risk that the weapons use could breach worldwide humanitarian law.

The relevant domestic and worldwide laws require governments to undertake a pre-export assessment on every arms transfer before authorising it. Countries can not transfer weapons if they are completely blind to whether the recipients of the weapons will respect global law. "The existing licences will continue".

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Amnesty International also welcomed the ruling as "a rare piece of good news" for the people of Yemen.

Opposition in Congress to close US Saudi ties escalated after the killing of US-based columnist Jamal Khashoggi by agents of the kingdom previous year.

US Secretary of state Mike Pompeo justified the action by saying that the supplies were due to the activities of Saudi Arabia's Nemesis Iran urgently needed. In particular, the court can indicate which information the government needs to take into account before making a decision.

"The UK Government trumpets itself as one of the largest aid donors to Yemen, but as one of the largest arms exporters to the Middle East, it is giving with one hand and taking away with the other". There was also £1.9 billion worth of ML4 licences for grenades, bombs, missiles and countermeasures. Mostly it includes high end, advanced weaponry such as jets and missiles.

The votes were only assured this week when Republican leadership agreed to hold the sensitive roll calls on the arms sales that critics say will aggravate the devastating war in Yemen.

"This judgement is not about whether the decisions themselves were right or wrong, but whether the process in reaching those decisions was correct", a spokeswoman for the Department for Trade said.