Made in Scotland: The deadly relationship fuelling the crisis in Yemen is the first in a research series uncovering the insidious role that Scotland plays within the UK’s arms trade.
UK-made warplanes, bombs and missiles have fuelled the conflict in Yemen which has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with 24 million people, 80% of Yemen’s population, requiring humanitarian assistance as of January 2019. Saudi Arabia and the UAE lead the coalition, alongside Egypt, Bahrain, Kuwait and Morocco. Coalition forces have targeted hospitals, clinics and vaccinations centres across Yemen, and after nearly six years of conflict, the country’s healthcare infrastructure has “almost collapsed.”
Polls over recent years have found the Scottish public are significantly opposed to Saudi arms exports. Just 11% of Scots said arms sales to Saudi Arabia were acceptable in a 2019 Opinium poll. In 2018, a ComRes poll gave similar results, with only 14% of Scots supporting continued arms sales to the Kingdom.
Despite this public opposition, weapons and military goods made in Scotland, from Dumfries and Galloway, Fife, Midlothian, Glasgow and Lanarkshire, are all in operation with the Saudi-led coalition forces. At least 16 arms companies operating in Scotland have applied for military export licences to Saudi-led coalition members or worked directly with military forces since 2008.
In the Scottish Parliament, the Government has faced criticism over grants and support given to arms companies by its business support body Scottish Enterprise. Scottish Enterprise provides ten of the companies mentioned with free account management services, yet held meetings around diversification from arms sales with only four of them over the past 12 months.