Rising demands in Europe to ban weapons sale to UAE

Demands in European countries to ban arms sale to the United Arab Emirates and its ally Saudi Arabia are raising in the light of war crimes and massacres against civilians in Yemen and other countries.

Sébastien Nadot, a former French MP, has called on the French government to stop its arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE in order to find a way out of the Yamani conflict.

“A humanitarian tragedy is going on in Yemen before our eyes and we are participating in it,” Nadot told France-Info radio.

He praised the role of the French human rights organizations in obstructing the loading of arms on the Saudi ship that left the port of Le Havre without shipping arms as it was supposed to.

He said this represented a “primary victory” for human rights organizations that suspect Saudi Arabia and the UAE of using French weapons to kill civilians on the right.

He added that what is happening in Yemen is a war crime according to UN experts and therefore France should not export weapons to countries that do not respect international law.

He also considered that the sales of these French arms give “a pretext for Saudi Arabia to continue the same approach in this Yamani conflict. Which makes France in a situation where diplomacy of collusion is practiced.”

Sébastien Nadot, who was excluded last December from the Republican bloc of the Movement for the Republic forward, filed a complaint with the European Commission to sell illegal weapons and raised a banner reading “France is killing in Yemen” in the National Assembly.

For his part, Olivier Faure, MP and First Secretary of the French Socialist Party, expressed his regret that France had invoked its “trade reputation” in the face of the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen, where the current government considers it may face difficulties if contracts with Saudi Arabia are suspended.

Meanwhile, a group of activists held a rally in the German capital to protest against the sale of arms to countries participating in the war in Yemen.

The stand was held in the square of “March 18” in front of the famous Brandenburg Gate, and the participants raised banners demanding that Germany and EU countries stop arms exports to the warring countries in Yemen.

Four protesters wore masks embodying the faces of French President Emmanuel Macaron, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and British Prime Minister Theresa May.

In a speech on behalf of the protesters, Christine Hoffmann said that weapons manufactured in Germany and other EU countries are used in Yemen, which is experiencing the greatest humanitarian disaster.

“German companies, with the consent of the German government, are selling weapons to countries that are involved in the war in Yemen, such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, and Jordan,” she said.

She pointed out that the weapons produced in Germany, France, Britain, Italy, and Spain are used in the war in Yemen, bringing the countries mentioned to responsibility for the humanitarian disaster in Yemen.

Earlier, Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reinders called for a suspension of arms sales to Saudi Arabia because of doubts about their use in the conflict in Yemen.

“I think it would be good to suspend contracts to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia,” Renders told La Presse radio, calling on the three regions of Belgium, especially Wallonia, to make a decision in this direction.

In Belgium, the executive authorities in the regions (Wallonia, Flanders, and Brussels) have the power to grant export licenses to producers of arms and military equipment.

In Wallonia alone, three-quarters of the jobs are in the Belgian arms industry. In this region, arms exports to Riyadh are one of the largest customers, with special sensitivity. The production of heavy machine guns and FN Herstal assault rifles is concentrated in the region.

Reinders, who also holds the defense portfolio in the federal government, said that the chief executive of Wallonia, Philly Porsos, a member of the French-speaking liberal party, to suspend arms exports to Saudi Arabia; because of the conflict in Yemen, He said.

“If there are elements that actually show the use of weapons in the current conflict, as is happening today in Yemen, we have to go towards ban decisions, and I think the Wallonia government will do that,” he said.

For the fifth year in a row, Yemen is witnessing a war between pro-government forces and Houthi militants accused of receiving Iranian support and controlling the provinces, including the capital Sanaa since September 2014.

Since March 2015, an Arab military alliance led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates has supported government forces in the face of the Huthis in a war that has left a severe humanitarian crisis, the worst in the world, according to a former UN report.