It’s been known for some time that Royal Air Force personnel have been assisting with US counterparts in Saudi command and control centres engaged in coordinating the bombing of Yemen. In addition the only thing keeping the Saudi Air Force in the Air are fortnightly flights of spare parts from Warton (Lancs) fitted by UK sourced ‘civilian’ contractors.
However it’s also now become known that Royal Navy personnel are assisting the Saudis in monitoring UN aid shipments into the country. Yemen is facing a devastating food crisis and medicines already in short supply in a country whose health centres and hospitals are targets for Saud warplanes are also subject to embargo. The RN personnel the UK say are providing support to help the UN’s Verification and Inspection Mechanism (UNVIM) to ‘facilitate’ commercial imports into Hodeidah and Saleef ports in Yemen. All shipping to these ports is checked at either Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) in Djibouti (Horn of Africa) or Salalah in Oman. The RN personnel are said to be based solely in Saudi Armed Forces HQ. The UK government has said a small number of personnel are deployed.
It’s also been revealed that a unit of the Royal Artillery (RA) has been deployed to Saudi Arabia to bolster defences against drone attacks by the Houthi government forces in Yemen targeting Saudi oil fields in reprisal for the bombing of civilians. The 16th Regiment RA are armed with Giraffe rader and Rapier and Sky Sabre missile systems – the MOD say that the radar has been deployed but again will not give specific detail.
The Celtic League has set out its opposition to UK military support for attacks on civilians in Yemen. The 2019 Celtic League AGM in Brittany condemned the use of military air bases in the Celtic countries to support the training of RSAF personnel (and their coalition allies).
Interestingly Royal Artillery units also train using ranges in Scotland and Wales and they to are now engaged in supporting the Saudi led war on the civil population of Yemen.
Image: Jeddah port one of a number that vet aid supplies to Yemen that the Royal Navy assists with – Inset: Hospitals in Yemen are desperately short of medicines because of the blockade.
pp Celtic League Military Monitoring (5th February 2021)