The first bomb hits the village of Deir al-Hajari in north-western Yemen on October 8, 2016 at around 3 a.m. The air strike kills a family of six: a pregnant mother, her husband, and four children. The survivors watch as their homes are destroyed by the air raid.

The next morning in Deir al-Hajari, remains of a bomb and a hanging hook from RWM Italia S.p.A. found on which the serial numbers are engraved with the date of manufacture June 2014: remnants of a Paveway II bomb, which was one of the most modern at the time.

Apparently, a questionable business model of the international arms industry is emerging that leads from the theater of war to the holiday island of Sardinia, where the Rheinmetall subsidiary RWM Italia supplies a global bomb supermarket - as part of a nested system that includes lucrative deals. 

A cross-border Italian-German team of journalists revealed the trade links between Great Britain, Saudi Arabia, Germany and Italy, which lie behind the bloody war in the country that once belonged to the Queen of Sheba. 

Germany and Italy are not the only EU countries involved in such deliveries. There is a third protagonist: Great Britain. As early as 2016, London had been criticized in the European Parliament as the main trading partner of the Waha-Bite monarchy. According to data released by the Stockholm interna-tional peace research institute (Sipri), between 2012 and 2016 London was awarded about 27% of the growing Saudi contracts for military supplies.

The debate on the Riyadh embargo is heated throughout Europe: Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands have banned the sale of weapons to the Saudis. In Italy, the proposal was naufra-gated in Montecitorio.  In Germany, despite promises of an export restriction made by the coalition government, the parliamentarians of Die linke denounce that orders tripled in 2018, reaching 161.8 million euros. Therefore, a clear link between the increase in military supplies from Great Britain and Italy and the war in Yemen. 

Photo: Luke Macgregor/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Laura Silvia Battaglia al-Jalal

Laura Silvia Battaglia al-Jalal is a freelance award-winning journalist, living between Italy and Sanaa (Yemen). 

Lorenzo Bagnoli

Lorenzo Bagnoli is board member of the Investigative Reporting Project Italy (IRPI), a centre for investigative journalism based in Italy.

Sonja Peteranderl

Sonja Peteranderl is an editor at Der Spiegel and founder of BuzzingCities Lab, a think tank focusing on how digitalization influences security, organized crime and urban violence in megacities. 

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