BERLIN: German government has announced it is suspending arms exports to Saudi Arabia and other countries waging war in Yemen, a measure that sets a new bar for Western countries selling to Riyadh and puts pressure on Canada to follow suit. Human rights advocates have accused Saudi Arabia of war crimes over its conduct in Yemen, where more than 5,200 civilians have been killed and 8,800 injured since Riyadh began a military campaign there in 2015 against Houthi rebels aligned with Iran. Canada is sending billions of dollars worth of armoured combat vehicles to the Islamic kingdom, which has ramped up a violent military campaign in Yemen, a country on its southern border. The Saudi-led strategy includes aerial bombing, ground fighting and a blockade severely restricting the flow of food, fuel and medicine to civilians there.
The Trudeau government has approved the export of weapon equipped combat vehicles to Saudi Arabia expressly to help Riyadh with the war in Yemen part of a $15-billion contract brokered by Ottawa that will stretch over many years. A memorandum from April, 2016, that the Liberals relied upon to justify granting the green light for these combat vehicle exports specifically mentioned Yemen. It said the light armoured vehicles will help Riyadh in its efforts at “countering instability in Yemen” as well as fighting Islamic State threats. “The acquisition of state-of-the-art armoured vehicles will assist Saudi Arabia in these goals.” Armoured vehicles previously sold by Canada to the Saudis and already in use by the country have appeared in videos and photos of the conflict in Yemen, including machines made by General Dynamics Land Systems in London, Ont. Germany announced on Jan. 19 that it would “immediately” stop approving arms exports to parties participating in the war in Yemen, a group that includes Saudi Arabia a major buyer of German weapons, according to Deutsche Welle, the country’s public international broadcaster