This post was last updated on May 19th, 2019 at 11:17 am
A Saudi cargo ship has recently been sailing around the European ports, trying its luck to acquire weapons for suspiciously using them in Yemen war. After being banned to acquire the French weapons, the ship on Friday headed towards Spain, where the purpose has reportedly been pulled off partially.
On Monday, the Bahri Yanbu left the Spanish port and set sail for Genoa, Italy. A spokesman of the Control Arms Coalition of human rights and aid groups, which is trying to halt arms deals involving conflict zones, Alberto Estevez told The Associated Press that the Saudi vessel left the port of Santander after loading two containers.
The Spanish arms control groups speaker also stated that the ship took a consignment contracted from private companies, which he highlighted was neither illegal nor it contravened any international laws.
Before moving to Spain, the Bahri Yanbu reached the northern French port, where it was due to load weapons. However, in a legal challenge on Thursday, a French rights group ACAT argued that the cargo contravened the UN Arms Trade Treaty, as the arms could be used against civilians in Yemen.
After the consignment of French weapons was blocked on humanitarian grounds, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia switched to another European country in order to achieve the arms deal. However, the Arab country opted a far-sighted approach this time.
Fixing a deal with a private firm, Saudi left no loopholes that could become a hindrance in acquiring weapons. Spokesman Estevez told the AP that a Zaragoza-based company, Instalaza sent arms for a trade exhibition in Saudi’s key ally in the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Besides, the weaponry would be returned to Spain.
On the other hand, the Kingdom obtained a ceremonial cannon as a part of its deal with another private company in the European country.
Countries in Europe have remained divided over the arms sales to Saudi Arabia, where Germany recently extended a ban on weapon exports to the Arab nation for six months. Besides, Belgium is reportedly considering a similar embargo.
However, Amnesty International suspects reported that the vessel took on Belgian-made ammunition in Antwerp, before sailing to pick French weapons in Le Havre. Activists also provided a May 7-dated Belgian Customs document to the AP, indicating that arms were placed on board the Bahri Yanbu at Antwerp.
Last week, Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said on a state broadcaster RTBF, “I think it would be good to suspend arms delivery contracts to Saudi Arabia.”
On the other hand, the United Kingdom and France continue the arms sale to Saudi. The Saudi French weapons deal that was protested last week was reported signed between the two sides several years ago.
Although the European countries that are still exporting weapons to the Kingdom claim that the arms are not for war purpose or to harm the civilians, the reality and facts are still behind the curtains. While Saudi Arabia has been continuing its destruction in Yemen from past four years, its international allies have been taking equal part in causing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
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