UK: Protest calls for end to arm sales to Saudi Arabia

By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal

LONDON (AA) – Around 100 activists and protesters on Thursday gathered in front of the Saudi Embassy in central London to call on British government to end arm sales to the kingdom, following killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The protest organized by the Stop the War Coalition was also joined by members from the International Campaign for Justice group.

Jamal Khashoggi murder was a terrible act “conducted by a state that is totally out of control,” Chris Nineham, vice chairman of the Stop the War Coalition said.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Nineham underlined the Saudi government is involved in the war in Yemen, which is on the brink of “one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes in the world since the second world war.”

“Disgracefully, the British government is supplying a huge amount of weapons and diplomatic and political support to the Saudi regime. We believe that has to end,” he said.

Nineham said they are protesting to “demand justice for Jamal Khashoggi and call for an end to aggressive war-like behavior from Saudi Arabia in the region.”

Robert Andrews, a researcher from the Arab Organization for Human Rights in the U.K., said they were at the Saudi Embassy “to ask and demand for the body of Jamal Khashoggi” and an end to the war in Yemen.

– 'This must stop'

Andrews, who came with tens of other protesters to the Saudi embassy building by a bus carrying banners which read “Justice for Jamal”, said: “Saudi Arabia has been carrying out international crimes.”

Pointing out that the U.K. government has licensed for £4.7 bn ($6 bn) worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, Andrews said “this must stop.”

Jay Ginn, a professor from London King’s College, said she was at the protest because she was outraged with “the war against the Yemenis and the bombing of their cities, population, schools and hospitals and the killing of thousands of women and children.”

“And we are implicated here in the U.K. because we supply aircraft and the bombs,” Ginn said.

After days of denying any knowledge of his whereabouts, Saudi officials last week admitted that the journalist had been killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

Amid the ongoing furor over Khashoggi’s death, Saudi King Salman has sacked the deputy head of the Saudi intelligence agency — and a top aide — while also ordering the arrest of 18 suspects in the case.

Meanwhile, world leaders continue to urge the Saudi authorities to clarify the circumstances of the journalist’s killing.

– Arms sales

British sales of arms and military equipment to Saudi Arabia reached to a volume of £1.1 bn ($1.4 bn) in the first half of 2018, according to official data.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) statistics show the sales of arms from the U.K. to Saudi Arabia increased by £280 million ($359 million) between January and March and reached £836 million ($1.71 billion), when compared with the sales in the same period last year.

Saudi Arabia was one of the first countries British Prime Minister Theresa May visited after triggering the Article 50 and officially starting the U.K.’s exit from the EU.

The arms and equipment sold to Saudi Kingdom by the U.K. include air-to-air missiles, aircraft components, sniper rifles, anti-riot gear, ballistic shields and body armor.

The High Court rejected a legal action forcing the U.K. government to suspend arms sales to Saudis by Campaign Against Arms Trade in July.