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With the conflict raging on since early 2015, Yemen has been labelled by Amnesty International as the “forgotten war”. Since the Saudi-led intervention started in March 2015 against Iran-backed Shi’a Houthi forces, the Saudis and their allies have managed to push back the Houthis from Aden. However Aden remains far from secure, with a number of key officials having been assassinated, and the influence of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and ISIS/Daesh is growing. Heavy fighting has been ongoing in the south of the country, exacerbating the humanitarian situation there. The Houthi militias have been accused of recruiting child soldiers. Many analysts see the war in Yemen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
There have been allegations that UK-supplied arms have been used to commit violations of international humanitarian law and that UK personnel are close to the Saudi-led coalition’s targeting decisions. The Defence Secretary told the House of Commons on 19 December 2016 that the Saudi Government had informed the UK it had used B-755 cluster munitions supplied by the UK in the 1980s in an attack on northern Yemen in January 2016. The Saudi Government has said will no longer use these munitions in its military operations. The UK Government continues to resist calls to suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia – a stance which is set to be the subject of judicial review in early February 2017.
Commons Debate packs CDP-2017-0007
Authors: Timothy Robinson; Aleksandra Gorb; Jon Lunn