Campaigners say weapons sales break UK laws as Saudi Arabia uses British bombs and missiles in Yemen war.
The case brought on Tuesday by campaigners against the arms trade could force Britain to halt exporting missiles, bombs and jets in a move that some observers say could curtail Saudi air raids in Yemen within weeks.
“A halt to UK arms exports and engineering support would have a material effect on the Saudis being able to conduct their bombing missions,” said Anna Stavrianakis, senior lecturer in international relations at the University of Sussex and an expert on the arms trade.
“Some reports suggest the Saudi bombing missions would have to stop within seven to 14 days. It would have a material effect on the peace process in Yemen.”
The UK has licensed at least 4.6 billion pounds ($6bn) worth of arms to Saudi forces since the bombing of Yemen began in 2015, and British weapons and military support – now accounting for half of the country’s arms exports – have become crucial to the war effort.
At the same time, there has been growing public disquiet about Britain’s role, with polls indicating that only six percent of people in the country now support arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) is attempting to overturn a 2017 ruling in the UK’s High Court that allowed arms suppliers to continue exporting weapons to the Saudis.