Carthy: Ireland must implement Saudi arms embargo over Yemen war
Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has called on the Irish government to implement a total ban on arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other members of the Saudi-led Coalition involved in the war in Yemen. The MEP was speaking from Strasbourg after the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling on all member states of the EU to end their arms sales to Saudi Arabia in accordance with the common rules on arms exports adopted by the EU Council in 2008 (Common Position 2008/944/CFSP).
Mr Carthy said: “Earlier this year the Irish government launched a campaign for a seat on the United Nations Security Council for 2021-2022, saying it is a strong supporter of human rights and conflict resolution. Yet this same government continues to authorise the sales of goods used in conflict to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other countries that are responsible for the world’s most severe humanitarian crisis in Yemen.
“I welcome today’s vote in the European Parliament, which all Sinn Féin MEPs supported. Despite the best efforts of the EPP group, which Fine Gael MEPs are members of, to remove the call in the resolution for a complete end of arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the majority of the Parliament adopted this call. Our resolution urged all members of the EU to strictly apply the common rules on arms exports, adopted by the Council in 2008, to Saudi Arabia in light of the humanitarian disaster in Yemen.
“It is now estimated that well over 50,000 civilians have been killed in air strikes by the Saudi-led Coalition since they began their bombing campaign in 2015 – but due to lack of access to Yemen by journalists and NGOs, this figure could be a significant under-estimation. A Coalition blockade has caused a humanitarian disaster, with seven million people facing famine today.
“Britain, Germany, France and Spain have all been involved in fuelling these atrocities by authorising the sale of billions of euros worth of deadly weapons to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Britain and France are among the top three exporters of arms to Saudi, second only to the US.
“It is reprehensible that the Irish government has continued to authorise the sale of dual-use items to Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the years since the attack on Yemen began. These countries continue to appear as destinations for sale or ‘final end use’ of Irish military exports in the government’s last two annual reports that it is required to publish under the Control of Exports Act 2008.
“These are the two members of the Coalition directly responsible for carrying out air strikes in Yemen, such as that launched against a bus full of more than 40 schoolchildren in August. Ireland continues to sell many more military products to other members of the Coalition responsible for logistical support for the Saudi war.
“It is unacceptable that the EU has not implemented a full arms embargo against Saudi Arabia, and it should do so immediately. The Irish government should be demanding this in the EU Council.
“The government has used our official ‘neutrality’ as a selling point in its campaign for a seat on the UN Security Council, and has claimed throughout its campaign that it promotes peace-making and respect for human rights. But the government’s actions tell a different story, one of turning a blind eye to war crimes and the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.
“We need to show leadership and implement a comprehensive arms embargo against Saudi Arabia and UAE immediately, while demanding the EU do the same in the Council.” ENDS