What Happened: The U.K. government said it would not grant new licenses for arms exports to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Egypt (including maintenance, military goods and technology contracts), Al Jazeera reported June 25. The announcement follows a recent court decision that ruled U.K. military exports to countries involved in the war in Yemen violated British law.
Why It Matters: The United Kingdom is Saudi Arabia's second-largest arms supplier and serves as a key part of the European defense supply chain in the Middle East. An interruption of its ability to fulfill contracts will thus have a notable effect on Europe's overall regional role as an arms supplier. The decision could also embolden European activists who have been trying to block their countries' arms shipments to Riyadh and its military allies over the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Background: The ban only applies to new arms licenses; current contracts will be allowed to finish. But rising pressure from Western governments and their citizens is pushing politicians to constrain their arms deals with Saudi Arabia. On June 20, the U.S. Senate passed resolutions to block emergency arms sales to Saudi Arabia, though the resolutions are expected to be vetoed by President Donald Trump.