With the news spreading around the world of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist critical of the Saudi regime but supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood, many governments have announced that they aim to take a ‘tough stand’ against this sort of brutality. This seems to be largely a case of words rather than actions. The brutal killing of Khashoggi sparks an instant and horrified initial reaction that trumps the one given to the real daily deeds of the Saudi regime and it’s leader, Mohammed Bin Salman. The Yemeni Conflict has claimed over 10,00 lives and forced millions out of their homes, yet it has been largely forgotten in the face of the admittedly more deadly Syrian Civil War. The headmaster of a school that has lost 42 infant students in an attack on a bus plainly displayed the effect this conflict is having. The bus driver himself, who was bringing water for the pupils, when the bomb went of, despaired at the lack of impact and action from the West in the face of such brutality.
This feeling of an uncaring and shrugging its shoulders foreign policy has been epitomised in the last few days and weeks. Tory MP Kwasi Kwarteng was on the World Tonight programme last night, reciting the usual chant of this murder being a clear infringement of the international code of conduct and that whoever carried it out should be brought to justice, which is all well and good, but the subject of his supposed anger is a mere drop in the ocean in this humanitarian crisis. When asked about the case of UK-Saudi arms deals, which are worth billions of pounds a year, Kwarteng offered no hope of the government taking action or particular notice and that the ongoing massacre would continue, nothing to see here, no sirree.
The Saudi government has pursued a cause of mass bombardment of civilian areas, destroying cities in the process for its own political gain. It is important to note that there is no good side to this conflict. The Houthi lead revolution is a murderous endeavour, but the previous government was not exactly a friend of piece and reconciliation either. The two sides are locked in a constant battle, which has left the millions of civilians caught in between starving and at large threat of being bombed. 50,00 have been killed by famine thus far. The UN, which likes warning, blaming and being friendly to dictators instead of actually doing anything these days, claimed that this food shortage could lead to the ‘biggest famine in 100 years’ and the effects of the war have already been seen, with many families struggling to get food on their tables while air raids rage above.
After the Iraq War, the government has been put off intervening in other people’s conflicts. The left raises the claim of pacifism while the far-right under Trump voices a protectionist agenda. The UK does not, of course, need to intervene militarily in the Yemeni Civil War, but placing a ban on selling arms to a brutal, murderer is surely the best option, both for the sake of the civilians caught up in this useless war and also this country’s previous cause of furthering democratic, peaceful and humane principles.