Spain Halts Major Missile Sale to Saudi Arabia Over Mounting Civilian Casualties in Yemen War
Air strike in Sana'a, Yemen carried out by Saudi Arabia-led coalition forces (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Spain has halted the sale of missiles to Saudi Arabia amid concerns about their use against civilians in its war with Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Spain’s defence ministry has launched a process to cancel the contract between Spain and Saudi Arabia signed in 2015 for 400 laser-guided munitions and will pay back the $ 10 million already paid for the weapons, broadcaster Cadena Ser reported on Tuesday.

"We confirm the news," Aljazeera quoted an unnamed spokeswoman at Spain's defence ministry as saying, who declined to give any additional details.

The cancellation of the contract reportedly began in July, shortly after Spain’s socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez took office. Before ousting his conservative predecessor in a no-confidence vote, Sánchez had slammed the government’s arms sales to the Saudi government.

Spain now joins Sweden, Canada, Finland, Norway, Belgium and Germany in canceling weapons deals with Saudi Arabia for its actions in the Yemen conflict.

More than 6,000 civilians have been killed in Yemen’s conflict, many of them as a result of coalition airstrikes. A report by the United Nations in August has named the Saudi-led coalition for air strikes on many civilian structures including hospitals and markets without any concern toward “minimising civilian deaths.”

Human Rights Watch has called a Saudi airstrike on a bus full of schoolchildren earlier this month an “apparent war crime.” More than 40 children were killed in the air raid, and 19 more wounded.

There also seems to be growing dissention within Saudi Arabia over the government’s actions in Yemen. According to a report by Aljazeera, a Saudi prince has told protesters in Britain's capital that the wider royal family ought not to be blamed for what is happening in the region, pointing the finger instead at the "king and his heir apparent".

The comments can be heard in a video that captured an encounter outside an unnamed London location between Prince Ahmed bin Abdelaziz - one of the few remaining sons of the founder of Saudi Arabia - and a group of activists chanting slogans such "down, down, the Al Saud" and "criminal family Al Saud".

Translation: Prince Ahmed bin Abdelaziz, King Salman's brother, heard opposition figures chanting "down down Al Saud" so he retorted, "All of the Al Sauds can't be blamed!? There are people responsible for the state of war in Yemen."

Saudi Arabia has launched a vicious campaign against Yemen by blocking its ports which has created a famine in the country with 22 million Yemenis in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. The architect of this campaign is being blamed as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who also serves as the Kingdom’s defence minister.