Where is Canada’s moral compass when it comes to the war in Yemen?

Conventional Weapons, News, Research in Action

The following excerpt is from an article published by Ricochet on January 25, 2022

It was a 45-second clip intended to go viral and elicit fear — and it did just that.

Posted on social media app Telegram, the video opens with ominous music laid over picturesque landmarks in Abu Dhabi, a tiny oil-rich city in the United Arab Emirates that is home to luxury resorts, human-made islands, and cool oases.

Abdul-Malek al-Houthi, leader of the Houthi rebel movement in Yemen, then appears with a stark warning.

“From today all countries that have economic relations with the UAE and all countries that have significant investments with the UAE must not consider the UAE a safe country.”

The screen goes black, followed by quick shots of fighter jets flying low over oil refineries, city skyscrapers and naval ships appear. The screen goes black again, and the clip ends with a final message that brazenly references Abu Dhabi’s prized reputation as one of the safest cities in the world. “Abu Dhabi… Safe City” flashes across the screen. The words suddenly fizzle out and the slogan is replaced by “UAE is no longer safe.”

It was a startling omen for residents of this oil-rich capital — the vast majority of whom are expats that have never witnessed terrorist attacks in the emirate, despite their government’s involvement in Yemen’s seven-year civil war.

Almost a quarter of a million people have died since the start of the war, and more than three-quarters of people in Yemen need humanitarian aid. The Houthis have been fighting Yemen’s government since 2014, when they took control of the country’s capital, Sanaa. The civil war has become a regional conflict, as Saudi Arabia and other states have fought against the Houthis, while Iran has supported them.

Canada has continued to arm Saudi Arabia, despite evidence that Canadian weapons have been used in the Yemeni war.

Canada is also still arming Saudi Arabia to the teeth, exporting tens of millions in light armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia on a monthly basis as part of the $15-billion deal brokered by the Canadian government in 2014.

These shipments continue despite Ottawa’s obligations to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), notes Kelsey Gallagher, one of the authors of a damning report released last summer by Project Ploughshares, a disarmament group based in Waterloo, Ontario, and Amnesty International. The report scrutinized Canada’s arms exports to Saudi in the context of the ATT, to which Canada formally acceded in 2019. It included pictorial evidence that armoured vehicles produced in Ontario by General Dynamics, are being used by coalition forces in Yemen and urged Ottawa to suspend all arms exports to Riyadh.

“Canada could deny further exports, which it should be doing,” says Gallagher. “When a state party to the ATT learns an end user is diverting weapons, it has an obligation to mitigate that risk, which includes up to denying further exports.”

But has Canada denied a permit application from Saudi Arabia on the grounds that it violates international human rights laws?

“I don’t know of a single case of that,” Gallagher says.

Click here to read the full article by Shenaz Kermalli at Richochet.

Spread the Word