Trudeau Liberals approve $74 MILLION explosives deal with Saudi Arabia

Global Affairs said they would not issue a weapons permit if the weapons sold would be used to violate international humanitarian law.

Alex Anas Ahmed Calgary AB

Outcry over the Trudeau Liberals' arms deals with Saudi Arabia intensified amid concerns of their use in the Yemen war.

Canada was publicly named for helping fuel the Yemen war in Yemen by the UN last fall, who investigated the possible war crimes committed in the gulf region. France and the United States were also named. Saudi Arabia is the top exporter of Canadian military arms after the US, having previously purchased $15-billion in armoured vehicles. Global Affairs reported that Canada sold $73.9-million worth of explosives to Saudi Arabia last year.

Since 2018, the federal government could regulate and broker the sale or transfer of weapons and other "restricted technology" between Canadians, Canadian companies and multiple foreign countries when Canadians or Canadian companies. Weapons sales require a permit to be authorized.

Global Affairs spokesman Grantly Franklin said in a statement to the Globe and Mail that Canada would not issue a permit if the government believed there to be "substantial risk" that the items sold "could be used to commit or facilitate a serious violation of international human rights law or international humanitarian law or serious acts of gender-based violence or violence against women and children.” Kelsey Gallawould greenlit a permit for selling explosives to Saudi Arabia, carrying out airstrikes in Yemen for six years.

Canada discloses little about weapon sales, keeping the identities of those involved a secret, including the nature of the goods sold, except that they belong to Export Control List category 2.4, which include “bombs, torpedoes, rockets, missiles, other explosive devices and charges and related equipment and accessories.”

NDP foreign affairs critic Jack Harris openly criticized the government for its “very narrow” view of risk, referencing subsequent reports by Global Affairs indicating that weapon sales to Saudi Arabia were not a problem. “It’s part of an ongoing pattern, particularly with Saudi Arabia,” Mr. Harris said. “There is an ongoing failure by this government when it comes to following through on its stated commitment to human rights.”

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, almost a quarter of a million people have died in the Yemen war. The conflict has led to an estimated 233,000 deaths since 2014 – including 131,000 from indirect causes such as lack of food, health services and infrastructure. It’s also led to what the UN body has called the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis.”

Saudi Arabia, which heads the coalition of Mideast and African countries supporting a Yemeni government against Houthi rebels backed by Iran, has been at war with Yemen since 2015. Human-rights groups and Western political leaders – including the European Parliament – have urged a freeze on arms sales to Saudi Arabia. They are among the worst human-rights abusers in the world. Rights group Amnesty International’s 2020 report said, "repression of the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly intensified.”

Global Affe harassed, arbitrarily detained, prosecuted or jailed “were government critics, women’s-rights activists, human rights defenders, relatives of activists, journalists, members of the Shia minority and online critics of government responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.'' By the end of 2020, “virtually all known Saudi Arabian human-rights defenders inside the country were detained or imprisoned at the end of the year.”


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