Saudi Arabia

1 April 2022News

We need to work for peace in Ukraine – and  recognise our greater moral responsibility for peace in Yemen

Noam Chomsky once wrote that some things were almost painful to have to say, they were so obvious. One example is that we have more responsibility for things that we can affect than for things that we have little or no influence over.

In Britain, we can help relieve the suffering of Ukrainians, but we have little influence over the Russian state which is raining destruction on Ukraine.

Whatever influence we have, we should try to use. Bruce Kent gave us a fine example of that…

1 April 2022Feature

A comparison of the wars in Ukraine and Yemen - and the west's response

Boris Johnson told the Conservative spring conference in Blackpool that the Ukraine war was ‘a moment of choice... a choice between freedom and oppression’, where victory for Russia would be ‘a green light for autocrats everywhere.’ (19 March)

He had already given that green light to the autocrats by backing the Saudi war in Yemen wholeheartedly, ever since he became foreign secretary in 2016.

Saudi Arabia’s record on democracy, freedom and human rights is even worse than that…

19 October 2020Blog

A review of Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran and the Rivalry that Unravelled the Middle East by Kim Ghattas (Wildfire, 2020; 400pp; £10.99)

I do find it shocking that Kim Ghattas uses the word ‘black’ in such a negative way in the title of her new book about the Middle East.

Ghattas, a former BBC journalist, describes the upsurge of fundamentalism in the region since 1979 as a Black Wave. She takes this phrase from Egyptian film-maker, Youssef Chahine.

For me, the title seems to reinforce the idea of blackness as evil and anti-human – which is how Ghattas, a mainstream Western liberal, sees Islamic…

1 December 2016Feature

An interview with the co-founder of the women-led US peace group CODEPINK.

CODEPINK’s Medea Benjamin at a protest on Wall Street, 2008. Photo: Thomas Good/Next Left Notes [GFDL] via Wikimedia Commons

Having become one of the most prominent US anti-war activists protesting against the US-led ‘war on terror’, Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the group CODEPINK, has now turned her attention to her nation’s close relationship with Saudi Arabia.

‘I’ve been doing a lot of work around the Middle East conflicts since the 9/11 attacks’, Benjamin, 64, tells…

1 December 2016News

High Court to scrutinise UK arms exports

On 11 July, Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) handed in a petition to Downing Street, London, against British arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Photo: CAAT

‘No one questions that these people are terrorists, but their presence in that city cannot justify an assault on 275,000 innocent people, still less the imposition of a siege, which is, by its very nature, a wholly indiscriminate tactic.’

These were the words of British foreign secretary Boris Johnson during a speech in which he…

1 August 2016News

3-day investigation to take place next February

The high court was silent on 30 June when judge Andrew Gilbart announced that he would be granting a judicial review into the legality of UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia. It was only decorum and tradition that stopped us from cheering or breathing a big sigh of relief.

Our claim calls on the secretary of state for business, innovation & skills to suspend all current licences – and to stop issuing any more arms export licences to Saudi Arabia for weapons which could be used in…

1 February 2016News

Campaigners bring legal challenge to UK arms exports

The British government must end arms sales to Saudi Arabia because of the Saudi naval blockade of, and air strikes in, Yemen that are breaching international law, according to Amnesty International and Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT). An arms cut-off is supported by most people in the UK, a recent poll has found.

On 10 January, a law firm acting for CAAT began taking legal action against the government, issuing a ‘pre-action protocol letter for judicial review’. Leigh Day cited…

31 March 2015Feature

Juan Cole explains what's really behind current events in Yemen

The massive twin bombings at mosques in the capital that shook Yemen on 20 March, killing over 100 and wounding many more, were immediately claimed by Daesh (the Arab acronym for ISIS/ISIL). Since the mosques were largely attended by members of the Houthi movement who subscribe to Zaidi, Shi’ite Islam, and Daesh is ultra-Sunni, the bombings also suggest Sunni-Shi’ite conflict of the sort that has characterised Iraq’s recent sectarian violence.

But Daesh doesn’t in fact have a…

30 May 2012News in Brief

In late May, the government of Saudi Arabia announced that it had awarded a £1.6bn training contract with BAE Systems. The order includes the purchase of 22 Hawk trainer/fighter jets from BAE (to be supplied in 2016) and 55 aircraft made by a Swiss company.

The aircraft will be used to train Saudi pilots to fly 72 Eurofighter Typhoons made by a European consortium including BAE. The Typhoon order, signed in 2006, was worth more than £6bn.

The latest deal has saved 278 jobs at a…