For all the legal niceties and nuances, the court judgement yesterday on Britain’s billions of arms sales to Saudi Arabia is a green light to the blood-soaked Gulf despotism to continue its murderous assault on the people of Yemen.
Over 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen since March 2015 when the Saudis began their brutal bombing campaign, using British warplanes, British bombs, British training, British military advice and British diplomatic cover.
The majority have been killed in Saudi air strikes. Yet more suffer from the other effects of that bombing and the other military actions taken by the Saudis and their craven cronies.
Almost the whole population of the country, 24 million people, are at risk of starvation and are reliant on food aid from under-resourced foreign agencies.
To make things worse, that food is going to run out. That’s because the Saudis have been targeting clean water facilities leading to 300,000 reported cases of cholera since the end of April.
Over 1,700 people have died from the disease, which should be easily preventable but given the absolute desperation in Yemen and the lack of basic resources is not.
Aid workers say that the extra food needed to keep cholera victims alive could exhaust their supply by September.
So those merely hungry will be pushed to the brink of starvation, those already starving will die.
The situation is so dire because the Saudis and their murderous coalition have imposed a blockade on the country, strictly controlling what goes in.
Add in the tight-fisted nature of the so-called “international community” and humanitarian agencies have little to work with.
This is what yesterday’s judgement means. It is not a bland legal point; it is the lives of literally millions of starving people.
Millions who over the past few years have had their lives upended. Their homes, hospitals, schools, markets, mosques, workplaces destroyed. Their children literally blown to bits.
The judgement however reinforces some crucial points about this country, its relations with the Saudi kingdom and its willingness to flog arms to all and sundry.
At a very basic level it shows again that our arms export controls are not fit for purpose, unless that purpose is to fuel wars around the world.
And it shows that the Establishment cares nothing for the lives of innocents when it can get into bed with some oil-rich despots.
Not least when those despots are Saudi Arabian despots, ruling over a country formed with the vital assistance of — surprise! – British arms exports to a murderous thug, Ibn Saud, whose conquest of the peninsula cost the lives of 400,000 people. It’s been 100 years, why spoil a good thing?
As shown in sickening and comprehensive detail by the historian Mark Curtis, British foreign policy has been and remains a malign influence in the world, stirring up conflict and great bloodshed in order to achieve cynical aims.
Only a radical transformation can end this and begin to repair the extensive damage caused by our rules.
That radical transformation cannot include quibbling about selling arms to a blatantly murderous regime, but must centre on achieving real peace throughout the world.
This article appeared ( under the title ‘ Saudi Arms Ruling…’) in The Morning Star, Tuesday 11th July 2017