Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has voiced concern about the Government’s planned cuts to aid to Yemen while reinstating arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which has been heavily involved in the Yemeni conflict. Speaking during a ministerial statement on the terrorist group Daesh, Mr Carmichael warned that by putting arms before aid the UK risked creating the potential for further conflict in the years to come. The Government has chosen to cut aid to Yemen by more than half compared to previous years.
Speaking virtually in Parliament, Mr Carmichael said:
“Daesh poses a global threat and we absolutely must not allow it to take root elsewhere. That being the case, does the Foreign Secretary not agree that it is surely, therefore, counter-productive to be cutting our aid to Yemen and to be continuing to supply arms to Saudi Arabia for their use in the conflict in Yemen?”
Responding for the Government, the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab MP said:
“We are still a world leading donor in relation to Yemen and we have remained and will remain between the 3rd or 5th in terms of the top donors. Of course we have a world-leading export license regime which makes sure that anything that could be used for illegal purposes cannot be exported.”
Reacting after the exchange, Mr Carmichael said:
“It is all very well talking about a “world-leading” arms license regime – how many times has this Government used the term “world-leading” to the point of parody? What matters are results and with arms sales up and support for those suffering from conflict down the results tell a sorry tale.
“This is not a niche issue. Many constituents in the isles have written to me to voice their real concerns about the Government’s eagerness to arm Saudi Arabia in spite of its persistent human rights violations. We know that if we are complicit in the creation of further conflict in the Middle East we are likely to feel echoes of that conflict globally for years to come.”