Amnesty International accuses UAE of diverting western arms to militias in Yemen

Mohammed El-Said
3 Min Read

Amnesty International accused the United Arab Emirates of diverting advanced arms from western states to unaccountable militias accused of war crimes and other serious violations in Yemen.  

In a statement on Wednesday, Amnesty International said that “Emirati forces receive billions of dollars’ worth of arms from Western states and others, only to siphon them off to militias in Yemen that answer to no-one and are known to be committing war crimes.”

The UAE is the closest partner to Saudi Arabia in their coalition formed in 2015 called the Coalition for Supporting Legitimacy in Yemen. It was formed shortly after the Ansar Allah Houthi group, backed by Iran, seized control of the Yemeni capital Sanaa.

The organisation carried on an investigation which showed that the UAE has become a major conduit for armoured vehicles, mortar systems, rifles, pistols, and machine guns–which are being illicitly diverted to militias.

Patrick Wilcken, Arms Control and Human Rights researcher at Amnesty International, said that “While the US, the UK, France and other European states have rightly been criticised for supplying arms to Coalition forces, and Iran has been implicated in sending arms to the Houthis, a deadly new threat is emerging. Yemen is quickly becoming a safe haven for UAE-backed militias that are largely unaccountable.”

The organisation warned that the spread of these fighting militias causes a disaster for Yemeni civilians who have already been killed in their thousands, while millions more are on the brink of famine as a direct result of the war.

The UAE has received at least US$3.5bn worth of arms from western states since the outbreak of the conflict in Yemen in March 2015. The list of countries who supply the UAE with arms for the conflict in Yemen includes: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Czech, France, Germany, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the UK and the US, among others.

The UAE has directly trained and funded militias including the Security Belt and Elite Forces, which operate a shadowy network of secret prisons known as “black sites”, according to Amnesty.  

Amnesty International called on all states to stop supplying arms to all parties to the conflict in Yemen.

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Mohammed El-Said is the Science Editor for the Daily News Egypt with over 8 years of experience as a journalist. His work appeared in the Science Magazine, Nature Middle East, Scientific American Arabic Edition, SciDev and other regional and international media outlets. El-Said graduated with a bachelor's degree and MSc in Human Geography, and he is a PhD candidate in Human Geography at Cairo University. He also had a diploma in media translation from the American University in Cairo.
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