Finland, Denmark and Netherlands announce arms to Saudi suspension

Activists dress in black "grim reaper" outfits and hold a banner reading "Stop Arming Saudi"
Activists in the UK hold a protest against arms sales to Saudi. Photo: CAAT/Flickr
Andrew Metheven

Germany has been joined by Finland, Netherlands, and Denmark in a suspension of arms sales to Saudi Arabia. The decisions follow the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and announcements by the United Nations that Yemen is experiencing the worst famine the world has seen for 100 years. Save the Children, using data compiled by the UN, has estimated that 85,000 children in Yemen may have died from starvation or disease since the war began in 2015. According to the research organisation Saferworld, Finland sold around $6m worth of arms to Saudi Arabia in 2017. Denmark's freeze includes military and surveillence equipment, and some "dual-use" technologies. Following the passing of a law banning arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the Dutch Foreign Secretary Stef Blok announced that he would be pushing for a similar ban by the United Nations.

In November the European Parliament called for further restrictions on European arms exports to Saudi Arabia. In a statement, the Parliament said: “Warships imported from EU countries are used to impose a blockade on Yemen, while aircraft and bombs are used in air raids that deepen the human tragedy.”

In mid-November, the US Senate rejected a resolution by Senator Rand Paul designed to stop a $300 million shipment of missiles and launchers from the USA to Bahrain. Bahrain is a member of the Saudi-led coalition, and in September the State Department announced it intended to sell 110 Army Tactical Missiles Systems (ATACMS) missiles along with 120 rocket pods. ATACMS is a 500lb-class guided missile with a 300km range, built by Lockheed Martin.

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