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Is Sweden complicit in Saudi war on Yemen?

Press TV – February 21, 2018

Last year, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström told a conference that the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Yemen was one that “has far too long been neglected and forgotten by the global community” and what Yemeni people were going through was “difficult to imagine.”

It is such statements that, besides leading various international peace efforts to help resolve major conflicts across the globe, including Saudi Arabia’s deadly war on Yemen, have helped Sweden establish the image of a peace-loving country that cares for others.

However, a steady rise in the Scandinavian country’s weapons business over the past years, including its major dealings with repressive Arab regimes in the Persian Gulf region, has cast doubt on Stockholm’s true intentions.

In fact the rise has been so fast that according to official data by the US government, Sweden is now the world’s third largest weapons producer per capita, closely following Russia and Switzerland while overtaking France, Britain and the US.

At the heart of Sweden’s weapons industry is Saab, a company that sold over $2.7 billion worth of weapons in 2016 alone, making its way into the world’s top 30 arms producing companies according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Over the recent years, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have become some of the main customers for Swedish-made weapons.

Svenska Freds, a 135-years-old Swedish anti-militarization group, charges that Stockholm has been providing Riyadh with weapons since 1998, with a brief suspension in 2015 following a diplomatic row between the two countries.

The larger chunk of the trade has taken over in the past eight years. According to Svenska Freds, the arms sales to Saudi Arabia reportedly approached six billion Swedish kronor ($741mn) between 2010 and 2016.

That means the arms deals between the two sides have continued throughout Saudi Arabia’s deadly war on Yemen, which began in March 2015 and has killed nearly 14,000 Yemeni civilians.

The UAE, another Saudi ally in the bloody war, was able to secure a larger deal in 2016, when the Swedish administrative authority, the National Inspectorate of Strategic Products, authorized 11 billion Swedish kronor ($1.3bn) in arms sales to the Arab country.

Before that, the country had sold 2.1 billion kronor ($272mn) in weapons sales to the UAE.

In a move that further proved Sweden’s desire to expand military ties with repressive Arab regimes, Saab opened a new office in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi in late 2017.

Lawmakers in the Swedish parliament have time and again criticized the government’s arms deals with the Saudi-led coalition.

While Foreign Minister Margot Walltröm has pledged to introduce measures that would limit the exports later this year, there are no signs that Stockholm is willing to end the profitable business anytime soon.

February 21, 2018 - Posted by | Corruption, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , ,

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