Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

There are less than 48 hours left in this Mid-Year Campaign and our independent journalism needs your help today.
If you value our work, please support Common Dreams. This is our hour of need.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

People gather at the site of a house destroyed by a Saudi-led airstrike in Sanaa, Yemen, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016. (Photo: AP)

EU Resolution Calls for Saudi Arms Embargo in 'Appeal to End Bloodshed'

'Continuing arms sales would constitute a breach of the EU's own legally-agreed Code of Conduct'

Andrea Germanos

The EU parliament on Thursday overwhelmingly called for an arms embargo against Saudi Arabia over its bombing of Yemen which has "led to thousands of deaths" and "further destabilized" the war-torn country.

"This is a clear humanitarian appeal to end the bloodshed in Yemen, and call on Saudi Arabia to pursue a political rather than a military solution to the conflict," stated Richard Howitt, who proposed the motion.

Despite lobbying by Saudi Arabia, the non-binding resolution passed 449 to 36, with 78 abstentions. "The vote does not compel EU member states to act but it does increase pressure on Riyadh, in the wake of criticism from the UN and growing international alarm over civilian casualties in Yemen," the Guardian reports.

Saudi Arabia has been waging an aerial assault on Yemen since March 2015 with the backing of the United States. United Nations humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien told the U.N. Security Council earlier this month that the campaign has resulted in at least 35,000 casualties and over 6,000 deaths. Yemen is experiencing a"humanitarian catastrophe," he warned, and added, "The United Nations has confirmed that at least 2,997 of those killed and 5,659 of those injured are civilians."

"Europe and the world must not ignore the unacceptable death toll in Yemen, and the European Parliament is voting today that the allegations of breaches of international humanitarian law by Saudi Arabia in Yemen are now so serious that continuing arms sales would constitute a breach of the EU's own legally-agreed Code of Conduct," Howitt added.

The call for the arms embargo is "unprecedented," said Greens/EFA foreign affairs spokesperson Alyn Smith, who led efforts to get the amendment passed. "Saudi Arabia is a top arms client of the UK and France, and there is evidence that these weapons have been used in gross violations of international law in Yemen," he added.

The EU vote follows a campaign by led by Avaaz which gathered roughly 750,000 signatures calling for such an embargo. Alex Wilks, campaign director at the group, said, "European countries and arms dealers have been making billions selling bombs to Saudi Arabia to be dropped on babies and children in Yemen. The UN has already said it's unacceptable, and now the EU must do the same."

A report released this week by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) also found that Saudi Arabia increased its arms imports 275 percent between 2011 and 2015, since the previous 5-year period, and is the United Kingdom's top arms recipient.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Just a few days left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Naomi Klein: The US Is in the Midst of a 'Shock-and-Awe Judicial Coup'

"The rolling judicial coup coming from this court is by no means over," warned the author of "The Shock Doctrine."

Jake Johnson ·


Markey, Bowman Join Climate Coalition in Urging SCOTUS Expansion

"We cannot sit idly by," said Markey, "as extremists on the Supreme Court eviscerate the authorities that the government has had for decades to combat climate change and reduce pollution."

Brett Wilkins ·


Ocasio-Cortez Says US 'Witnessing a Judicial Coup in Process'

"It is our duty to check the Court's gross overreach of power in violating people's inalienable rights and seizing for itself the powers of Congress and the president."

Brett Wilkins ·


Critics Say Biden Drilling Bonanza 'Won't Lower Gas Prices' But 'Will Worsen Climate Crisis'

"President Biden's massive public lands giveaway in the face of utter climate catastrophe is just the latest sign that his climate commitments are mere rhetoric," said one campaigner.

Kenny Stancil ·


Grave Warnings as Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Case That Threatens 'Future of Voting Rights'

"Buckle up," implores one prominent legal scholar. "An extreme decision here could fundamentally alter the balance of power in setting election rules in the states and provide a path for great threats to elections."

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo