Norway Suspends Weapon Sales to UAE Over Yemen War
The Norwegian Foreign Ministry announced today that it has suspended sales of arms and ammunitions to the United Arab Emirates “as a precautionary line” over fears that they could be used in the war in Yemen.
Norway's Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide said that although she had “no information” that Norwegian weapons were being used in the conflict, the government were increasingly “concerned” about the humanitarian in crisis in Yemen.
The UAE are part of the Saudi-led coalition that have been at war with Yemeni rebels, the Houthis, since March 2015. The war has so far claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people, displaced up to 3 million and led to a cholera epidemic in one of the regions poorest countries.
UN reports have also suggested that the Emirati state may be committing war crimes in Yemen, where they hold a significant naval, ground and air presence.
The announcement of the weapons ban came after the Norwegian newspaper, Verdens Gang, published a video purporting to show a “US spy submarine” that had allegedly been seized by Houthi rebels. The newspaper claimed that it was a REMUS 600 Autonomous Underwater Vehicle made by Norway's Kongsberg group. Neither Konsberg or the Saudi led coalition have issued a comment on the story. However, Foreign Minister Eriksen Soreide said that although the announcement was made today, the decision to suspend arms exports to the UAE was made on December 19.
Norway have been selling arms and ammunition to the UAE since 2010. According to Norwegian news agency NTB, in 2016 alone weapon sales to the UAE amounted to around £9 million.
Line Hegna, of the Norwegian branch of Save the Children, welcomed today's announcement describing it as “important and the right thing to do.”
In a statement to the Associated Press, she said:
"The decision taken by the Norwegian government can act as an example for other exporting nations to act responsibly in the face of repeated violations of international humanitarian law,"
The UK Labour Party's shadow minister for peace and the Middle East, Fabian Hamilton recently said that a future Labour government would ban UK weapon sales to all members of the Saudi led coalition involved in the conflict in Yemen, including the UAE.