Saudi arms embargo resolution passes

Saudi arms embargo
© iStock/swisshippo

The European Parliament has passed a resolution calling on Member States to adopt a Saudi arms embargo in the wake of the Jamal Khashoggi murder.

In the wake of the torture and killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey, MEPs voted to condemn the murder, which they stated was unlikely to have happened without the knowledge or approval of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, “in the strongest possible terms”. In addition to approving the Saudi arms embargo, they called for an impartial international investigation into the events of October 2, when Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Turkey and did not return.

The House had already issued a similar call for a Saudi arms embargo on October 4 in response to the country’s participation in the civil war currently ongoing in Yemen, which has left 22 million people in need of humanitarian support and many more, including more than 2,500 children, dead.

Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi journalist who had to leave Saudi Arabia after threats relating to an article he wrote criticising US president Donald Trump, has been officially missing since entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain documents for his upcoming wedding. At first Saudi authorities disclaimed any knowledge of Khashoggi’s whereabouts, saying he had left the consulate safely; but when the Turkish government insisted they had surveillance recordings of the murder, the Saudis claimed the journalist had been accidentally killed in a fist fight. This story was later changed to acknowledge his murder had been premeditated. To date no body has been found.

In the face of international criticism, calls for the truth and increasing support for a Saudi arms embargo, politicians and commercial entities veered away from being seen to do business with the Saudi government. 40 participants including UK Trade Secretary Liam Fox, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and JPMorgan Chase chief executive Jamie Dimon pulled out of the Future Investment Initiative, a business and development forum held in Riyadh; while actor Gerard Butler pulled out of a Riyadh screening for his new film. Sports entertainment company World Wrestling Entertainment came under fire for confirming, after weeks of speculation, that they would go ahead with an event to be held in Riyadh on November 2.

Amnesty International said: “We welcome the European Parliament’s strong criticism of Saudi Arabia’s crackdown on activists and journalists. Until recently the Kingdom’s blanket suppression of human rights has largely been met with a deafening silence from the international community.”

Germany has already implemented a temporary Saudi arms embargo in response to the Khashoggi murder. EU Member States will address the issue further at the Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva on November 5.

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