In the wake of claims British-made bombs are being used to carry out deadly attacks in Yemen, on Wednesday the Saudi foreign minister will be briefing a UK select committee to convince British lawmakers to prevent the ban of arms sales to the Gulf kingdom,
According to the Guardian, Adel Al-Jubeir is set to hold the briefing on Wednesday (7 September) just hours before the select committee on the control of arms exports convenes to debate whether or not to ban arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
A Saudi-led coalition has conducted a bombing campaign in the 18-month Yemen civil war – and has been accused of carrying out indiscriminate strikes. Hospitals, schools, weddings and markets have been not been spared from the devastation.
Last month an air strike hit a hospital run by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in northern Yemen, killing 19 people and leaving 24 others injured. Following the aerial bombing of Abs Hospital in Yemen's Hajjah governorate, MSF decided to withdraw its teams from six hospitals in the country.
In a written statement to Parliament yesterday (5 September), Boris Johnson defended a Saudi-led inquiry into its own practices. "They have the best insight into their own procedures and will be able to conduct the most thorough and conclusive investigations," Britain's foreign secretary said.
"It will also allow the coalition forces to work out what went wrong and apply the lessons learned in the best possible way. This is the standard we set ourselves and our allies."
Johnson also sought to defendthe sale of British weapons to the Saudi regime. He insisted the UK government "takes its arms export responsibilities very seriously and operates one of the most robust arms export control regimes in the world."
He said: "The key test for our continued arms exports to Saudi Arabia in relation to international humanitarian law is whether there is a clear risk that those weapons might be used in a commission of a serious violation of international humanitarian law. Having regard to all the information available to us, we assess that this test has not been met."
Despite Johnson's assertions, Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International and Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) all told IBTimes UK that the British government should stop selling arms to the Middle East oil giant until it "curbs unlawful acts and credibly investigates those that have already occurred."
Given Johnson's statement, the UK foreign office minister, Tobias Ellwood was summoned by the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, to clarify the government's position – the Guardian noted. Rather than adopt a position on whether bombing incidents amounted to international humanitarian law violations, Ellwood said the government should "take an overall view of the approach and attitude by Saudi Arabia to international humanitarian law".