CANADA/SAUDI - Human Rights & Arms Export

CANADA/SAUDI - Human Rights & Arms Export

Postby Oscar » Mon Aug 20, 2018 8:38 pm

Complicity with Saudi Crimes Limits Canada’s Response
[ ... se/5651109 ]
By Yves Engler Global Research, August 19, 2018 Yves Engler 15 August 2018
"Governments, like gardeners, reap what they sow. Trudeau’s continuation of Harper’s Conservative Mideast foreign policy has reaped the current mess with Saudi Arabia."
The Liberal brain trust must be wondering, “what do we have to do? We slavishly back the odious Saudi regime and they freak over an innocuous tweet.”
The Trudeau government has largely maintained the Conservative government’s pro-Saudi policies and support for Riyadh’s belligerence in the region. They’ve mostly ignored its war on Yemen, which has left 15,000 civilians dead, millions hungry and sparked a cholera epidemic. Rather than oppose this humanitarian calamity, Ottawa armed the Saudis and openly aligned itself with Riyadh.
Some of the Saudi pilots bombing Yemen were likely trained in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Since 2011 Saudi pilots have trained with NATO’s Flying Training in Canada (NFTC), which is run by the Canadian Forces and CAE. The Montreal-based flight simulator company trained Royal Saudi Air Force pilots in the Middle East, as well as the United Arab Emirates Air Force, which joined the Saudi-led bombing of Yemen.
As Anthony Fenton has demonstrated on Twitter, Saudi backed forces have been using Canadian-made rifles and armoured vehicles in Yemen. Saudi Arabia purchased Canadian-made Streit Group armoured vehicles for its war, which have been videoed targeting Yemeni civilians. The Trudeau government signed off on a $15 billion Canadian Commercial Corporation Light Armoured Vehicle (LAV) contract with the kingdom. Over a decade and a half, General Dynamics Land Systems Canada is to provide upwards of a thousand vehicles equipped with machine guns and medium or high calibre weapons. The largest arms export contract in Canadian history, it includes maintaining the vehicles and training Saudi forces to use the LAVs.
With the LAV sale under a court challenge, in late 2016 federal government lawyers described Saudi Arabia as “a key military ally who backs efforts of the international community to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and the instability in Yemen. The acquisition of these next-generation vehicles will help in those efforts, which are compatible with Canadian defence interests.” In a further sign of Ottawa aligning with Riyadh’s foreign policy, Canada’s just-expelled ambassador, Dennis Horak, said in April 2016 that the two countries have had “nearly similar approaches on Syria, Yemen, Iraq and the Middle East Peace Process” and the Canadian Embassy’s website currently notes that “the Saudi government plays an important role in promoting regional peace and stability.”
Within six weeks of taking up his new post, Trudeau’s first foreign minister Stéphane Dion met his Saudi counterpart in Ottawa. According to briefing notes for the meeting, Dion was advised to tell the Saudi minister, “I am impressed by the size of our trade relationship, and that it covers so many sectors … You are our most important trading partner in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.”
The Trudeau government also sought to deepen ties to the Saudi-led Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), whose members almost all intervened in Yemen. Announced in 2013, the Canada–GCC Strategic Dialogue has been a forum to discuss economic ties and the conflicts in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. Dion attended the May 2016 meeting with GCC foreign ministers in Saudi Arabia.
Canada is a major arms exporter to the GCC monarchies. Canadian diplomats, the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC), and the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries (CADSI) promoted arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the rest of the GCC. With support from Global Affairs Canada and the CCC, a slew of Canadian arms companies flogged their wares at the Abu Dhabi-based International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) in 2016, 2017, 2018 and are already preparing for 2019.
Canadian companies and officials sold weapons to monarchies that armed anti-government forces in Syria. In an effort to oust the Bashar al-Assad regime, GCC countries supported extremist Sunni groups, which have had ties to Daesh/Islamic State.
The Trudeau government continued with the previous government’s low-level support for regime change in Syria. It provided aid to groups opposed to Assad and supported US cruise missile strikes on a Syrian military base in April.
With the Saudis, Israel and the US generally antagonistic to Iran, there has been only a minor shift away from the Harper government’s hostile position towards that country. The Trudeau government dialed down the previous government’s most bombastic rhetoric against Tehran but has not restarted diplomatic relations (as Trudeau promised before the election) or removed that country from Canada’s state sponsor of terrorism list. One aim of the Canada-GCC Strategic Dialogue is to isolate Iran. A communiqué after the May 2016 Canada-GCC ministerial meeting expressed “serious concernsover Iran’s support for terrorism and its destabilizing activities in the region.” An April 2016 Global Affairs memo authorizing the LAV export permits noted that “Canada appreciates Saudi Arabia’s role as a regional leader promoting regional stability, as well as countering the threat posed by Iranian regional expansionism.”
The Trudeau government continued to criticize Iran for their human rights abuses while regularly ignoring more flagrant rights violations by the rulers of Saudi Arabia. In the fall of 2017, Canada again led the effort to have the United Nations General Assembly single Iran out for human rights violations.
Saudi Arabia’s over the top response to an innocuous tweet has given the Liberals a unique opportunity to distance Canada from the violent, misogynistic and repressive regime. If there were a hint of truth to Trudeau’s “feminist”, “human rights”, “Canada is back”, etc. claims the Liberals would seize the occasion. But the Saudis are betting Canada backs down. Based on Trudeau’s slavish support for the kingdom so far it is a safe bet.
The original source of this article is Yves Engler Copyright © Yves Engler, Yves Engler, 2018

= = = =
There Is a Way to Control Arms Exports, but Does Canada Have the Will?

[ ... d_articles ]
By Asad Ismi Global Research, January 21, 2017 Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives 17 January 2017
The Trudeau government has significantly undermined its stated commitment to human rights by going ahead with a $15-billion sale of light armoured vehicles (LAVs—combat transports that can be armed with lethal high-calibre weapons) to Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi regime’s vicious repression of its own population is well documented by human rights groups, and a two-year bombing campaign against Houthi rebels in neighbouring Yemen has claimed as many as 10,000 lives, more than half of them civilians by United Nations accounts. Depending on when they arrive, the Canadian-made LAVs could enter the battle on the Saudi side, and would be used in future, as they were in Bahrain in 2011, to quell domestic protest against the regime or its allies.
“We are concerned that this is the largest arms deal in the history of Canada and the military equipment is going to a country which is a human rights pariah, holding among the very worst such records, according to every organization that tracks this issue,” says Cesar Jaramillo, executive director of Project Ploughshares, a Waterloo, Ontario–based NGO focused on preventing war and building peace.
If Saudi Arabia, with such a dire human rights record, both internally and externally, is eligible to receive Canadian military exports, then which country would not be?
The U.S.-backed Saudi royal family suppresses virtually any dissent, criticism, democratic aspirations and civil rights. Saudi women are among the least free in the world; in 2013, King Abdullah granted women the right to run and vote in municipal elections, but they are still not permitted to drive, and make up a very small fraction of the national workforce. Beheadings or long jail terms, extensive flogging, the cutting off of hands and torture are common sentences for political crimes.
Saudi Arabia’s actions have also destabilized the region, for example, by invading Bahrain in 2011 and then Yemen in March 2015. The latter conflict has destroyed a country that was already one of the poorest in the world. Saudi bombing has targeted Yemen’s markets, houses, schools, factories, hospitals and health clinics (all war crimes), injuring 35,000 and starving the country’s 7.6 million people through the imposition of a blockade, according to the UN’s Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The Saudi regime is also a financier of international terrorism, including the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), as revealed in a recent leak of Hillary Clinton’s emails from when she was U.S. Secretary of State. “We need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to Isis and other radical groups in the region,” said a memo dated August 17, 2014. A 2009 email sent under Clinton’s name, also leaked by Wikileaks, says “Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaeda, the Taliban, LeT [Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan].”
Yet, in April 2016, Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion referred to the Saudi warfare state as Canada’s “strategic partner in an increasingly volatile region, particularly in the armed conflict against the so-called Islamic State” (emphasis added). The Liberal government is therefore determined to stand by a Conservative-brokered sale of LAVs—from one ally to another. “We will not weaken the credibility of the signature of the Government of Canada,” said the same government press release.
Ottawa also justifies the LAV sale by highlighting the economic benefits, such as the 3,000 jobs it claims will be sustained at General Dynamics Land Systems’ Canadian plants. However, most Canadians asked about the issue want the government to cancel the sale (an Angus Reid poll in February 2016 found only 19% support for the deal). “It is a pernicious argument to assert that Canadian jobs must depend on the killing, maiming, injuring and repressing of innocent civilians abroad,” says Peggy Mason, president of the Rideau Institute in Ottawa.
Jaramillo agrees. He points out there “are very strong ethical questions to be asked about linking the economic well-being of Canada to the suppression of human rights in other countries.” If jobs are the key consideration, he asks, “then what’s to stop Canada from selling weapons to ISIS or to the Mexican drug cartels? Sadly whenever commercial interests are pitted against the protection of human rights, the former often win.”
Richard Sanders, co-ordinator of the Ottawa-based Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT), says if the Canadian government were really interested in creating jobs it would be investing in more labour intensive sectors such as health and education, “which also have added social benefits that weapons exports obviously don’t provide.” In contrast, the military industry “creates relatively few jobs as it is so capital intensive,” he says. “It is one of the least efficient ways to create jobs.”
In Canada, military exports are reviewed to ensure there is no reasonable risk of the buyer government using Canadian weapons against civilians or otherwise to violate human rights. According to a report in the Globe and Mail in November, Minister Dion blocked a shipment of military goods to Thailand last year because the military junta running the country since 2014 has silenced the press, imprisoned political opponents and prevented public protests. The Globe has persistently highlighted the contradictions of a Canadian policy that blocks some arms sales but allows them to countries with a human rights record as poor as Saudi Arabia’s.
Sanders, who has been studying Canadian arms exports for 30 years, says Canada’s export controls actually “have no teeth whatsoever.” Canada has guidelines but no firm rules, which explains why the government is able to sell billions of dollars worth of military technology to the United States, the most warring country on the planet. “The controls are a facade which protect the official mythology that Canada is a promoter of peace and human rights. That is their real function. The narrative that Canada has these so-called rules fits into the grand myth that this country is a force for peace in the world.”
Sanders emphasizes that when we are speaking about the impact of Canada’s arms sales on peace and human rights, the U.S. is the unmentioned “elephant in the room.” The U.S. government “is constantly at war,” he says. Canada’s exports to the U.S. consist of essential components for about 40 major U.S. weapons systems used in Iraq and Afghanistan. These included helicopters, warplanes and gunships, but also electronics for radar and communications, and targeting and guidance systems that do not go through any export screening at all.
“Washington is also the godfather of Saudi Arabia and many other countries that violate human rights,” says Sanders. “The mainstream peace movement seems to want to shy away from this central issue.”
Jaramillo agrees this “historic loophole” is a major issue. “This is the biggest chunk of exports annually and they get almost blanket approval from Ottawa. Of course, the U.S. has direct or indirect involvement in any number of conflicts around the world and is the biggest arms exporter globally.” Jaramillo opposes such exceptional treatment for any nation and wants Canada to treat all its trading partners in a similarly transparent manner. For him, all military exports should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
The Canadian government has failed to respond adequately to a number of Ploughshares’ concerns about the Saudi arms deal and “may be wilfully blind” to the reasonable risk that the monarchy might use the LAVs against civilians, says Jaramillo. “At the end of the day, what matters are the actual arms deliveries that are going to threaten civilians’ lives, enable human rights violations, cause human suffering, embolden dictators and sustain oppressive regimes.”
Asad Ismi is an independent journalist and activist who covers international affairs for the CCPA Monitor.
The original source of this article is Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Copyright © Asad Ismi, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, 2017

= = = =
Did the Canadian Government Bribe Saudi Officials to Obtain its Arms Deal?

[ ... d_articles ]
By Julie Lévesque Global Research, June 01, 2016
In 1965, the United States and the UK were competing to sell war planes to Saudi Arabia. In order to get the lucrative contract, a « commission » had to be paid to members of the Saudi government.
The history of this colossal deal is recounted in a 1999 BBC documentary, The Mayfair Set. Four Stories about the Rise of Business and the Decline of Political Power. The first episode is titled Who Pays Wins.
The voice over images of the Queen of England and the Saudi King shaking hands and parading the streets of London to celebrate the historic deal explains: “December 1965, the Saudis announced they would buy the British planes. The bribes had worked. It was the biggest export dealing in Britain’s history and King Faizal came on a state visit to celebrate.“
Lord Caldecote, the director of the military aeroplanes manufacturer English Electric explained this blatant corruption in those words: paying a commission to Saudi officials in order to obtain a contract is a cultural thing, just like having many wives. In other words, the Saudis have different customs, and paying bribes is not a form of corruption. It is just the Saudi way of doing business.
Almost 50 years later, in 2014, Canada was just like the UK signing its biggest export contract of all time, a 15-year arms deal worth $15 billion. A Crown corporation, the Canadian Commercial Corporation, negotiated and signed the contract. The armoured vehicles will be supplied by General Dynamics, based in London Ontario.
Knowing the Saudi « customs », which have not evolved much for the past 50 years, Canadians have every right to wonder if the Canadian government offered bribes to the Saudi royal family in order to obtain the most important contract of its history.
In 1965, the sale of British war planes to Saudi Arabia was closed as a war was raging in Yemen, where Nasser’s Egypt backed the republican Yemenites who were fighting against the royalist forces supported by Saudi Arabia. The British planes were instrumental in driving the Egyptians out of Yemen, reasserting British control over important trade routes and protecting the Saudi influence in the region.
In 2014, while Canada was concluding its sale of armoured vehicles to the Saudi kingdom, a war broke out in Yemen involving, once more, Saudi Arabia.
On March 27 2015, the then Minister of Foreign Affairs Rob Nicholson voiced the support of the Canadian government for the U.S.-Saudi war in Yemen: “Canada supports the military action by Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] partners and others to defend Saudi Arabia’s border and to protect Yemen’s recognized government at the request of the Yemeni president.”
In this history that repeats itself, one can seriously doubt the saying “other times, other customs.” The BBC documentary shows how the historic British deal in 1965 was “the beginning of the modern arms trade with the Middle East which has grown to dominate Britain’s economy.” The deal also gave rise to a blooming trade in other economic sectors, such as the construction business, opening a foreign market for British contractors.
According to the Globe and Mail: “Stephen Harper’s Conservative government made Saudi Arabia’s “emerging market” a priority as part of a foreign policy that focused on international trade and business. Ottawa made careful diplomatic overtures to Riyadh in the years before the 2014 arms deal, according to Saudi government documents made public last year by Wikileaks. The Saudis, in turn, made their own investments in Canada, such as donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to expand private Islamic schools in this country.

The Harper government lobbied hard for the arms deal, which was brokered by a federal Crown corporation, Canadian Commercial Corp. Canada beat French and German companies to get the contract. Ed Fast, then the federal trade minister, touted the deal in February, 2014, as a triumph for Canada’s economic diplomacy.” (The Saudi arms deal: What we’ve learned so far, and what could happen next, The Globe and Mail, May 24, 2016)

The Trudeau government, which initially declared it “didn’t approve” the contract and was simply refusing to terminate it, actually approved the remaining export permits. Thus, this deal was approved by both the Harper and Trudeau governments.
How did Canada beat the French and German companies? Did the Conservatives and the Liberals offer and/or secure bribes to Saudi officials in order to obtain this historic sale, thereby helping to maintain the influence of the most repressive, misogynist regime in the Middle East, which, by the way, is also responsible for training and financing terrorism which Canada is allegedly fighting at home and abroad?
An inquiry into this largely secret arms deal is needed.
The original source of this article is Global Research Copyright © Julie Lévesque, Global Research, 2016

= = = = = =
Ten Facts about Canada’s Arms Deal with Saudi Arabia

[ ... d_articles ]
By Cesar Jaramillo Global Research, December 21, 2015 Open Canada 25 September 2015
The largest arms exports contract in Canadian history will see Canadian-made military equipment shipped to one of the worst human rights violators in the world — Saudi Arabia. This will happen despite an existing export control regime specifically intended to prevent Canadian goods from fuelling human rights violations abroad. The deal was brokered by the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) — a taxpayer-financed Crown corporation — for an undisclosed number of Light Armoured Vehicles to be manufactured by General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS), based in London, Ontario. While many details of the deal remain shrouded in secrecy, below are 10 indisputable facts.
Fact 1: The deal is, by far, the largest military exports contract in Canadian history.
The contract, valued at $14.8-billion, was awarded during the 2013-2014 fiscal year. It dwarfs any other military exports contracts brokered by the CCC — ever.
With the total value of all military export contracts for 2013-2014 at $15.5-billion, the Saudi deal accounted for more than 95 percent of military exports for the fiscal year.
Fact 2: Canada’s trade policies state that Canada “closely controls” military exports to governments with “a persistent record of serious violations of the human rights of their citizens.”
According to Canada’s export control policies, “once an application to export goods or technology has been received, wide-ranging consultations are held among human rights, international security and defence-industry experts” at Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD), the Department of National Defence, and, “as necessary, other government departments and agencies.”
Before export permits for military equipment are issued, the human rights safeguards built into Canada’s export control policies call for a case-by-case assessment, after which the Canadian government must be satisfied that “there is no reasonable risk that the goods might be used against the civilian population.”
The position of the Canadian government — as stated on the publicly accessible DFATD website — is that Canada has “some of the strongest export controls in the world.”
Fact 3: Saudi Arabia is one of the worst human rights violators in the world.
By any modern standard, Saudi Arabia is a human rights pariah. According to Washington-based Freedom House, the country is among the “worst of the worst” human rights offenders in the world. Year after year, authoritative organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch condemn the consistent, systematic repression of the Saudi civilian population by the governing regime.
Beheadings are routine; an October 2014 Newsweek feature story was entitled “When It Comes To Beheadings, ISIS Has Nothing over Saudi Arabia.” Posting online comments critical of the regime can result in the author being publicly flogged. Women cannot drive. Freedom of speech is severely censored. Freedom of association, freedom of the press, and academic freedom are restricted. Hundreds of thousands of websites have been blocked. The state imposes harsh penalties, including beheadings, for crimes such as witchcraft, apostasy, sorcery, and fornication.
If a country with Saudi Arabia’s dire human rights record is deemed eligible to receive Canadian-made military goods, it is hard to comprehend what sort of record a country must have to actually trigger the pertinent human rights safeguards.
Fact 4: Documentary evidence shows that the Saudi regime uses Light Armoured Vehicles against civilians.
In March 2011, Saudi Arabia sent armoured vehicles to help quell peaceful civilian protests in neighbouring Bahrain. One of several media outlets that made such claims, Britain’s Telegraph reported that Saudi troops were in Bahrain to “crush” the protests.
The Canadian government has neither confirmed nor denied that the armoured vehicles used by Saudi forces in Bahrain were made in Canada. In May 2015, The Globe and Mail reported, “Asked if it believes the Saudis used made-in-Canada LAVs when they went into Bahrain, the Canadian government doesn’t deny this happened.”
Fact 5: The necessary export permits had not been issued when the deal with Saudi Arabia was officially announced.
Project Ploughshares has established that at the time that the Saudi deal was announced in February 2014, the required export permits had not been issued. This is especially significant, as a key element of the export permits is a human rights assessment to determine that the deal in question does not contravene Canada’s export control policies.
We need to ask: Was the announcement of the sale made on the assumption that the export permits would eventually come through? What was this assumption based on? Would any reasonable observer not find this assumption highly risky, given what is known about the recipient nation?
Fact 6: The deal was announced without a single reference to the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia.
When Minister for International Trade Ed Fast made the official announcement that General Dynamics Land Systems had won “the largest advanced manufacturing export win in Canada’s history,” it was framed as an economic victory for Canada.
References to job creation and a “cross-Canada supply chain” constituted the primary talking points. The announcement said nothing about the dire human rights situation in Saudi Arabia or the necessary export permits.
Fact 7: Information on how Ottawa justified the deal has not been made available to the Canadian public.
No human rights reports for 2014, the year in which the deal was announced, or the 2013-2014 fiscal year, when the CCC awarded the contract to GDLS, were produced by Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada. Further, DFATD will not divulge details of the export permit application process, citing commercial confidentiality.
Fact 8: More than a passive intermediary, the CCC is an active promoter of military exports.
The Canadian government has made “economic diplomacy” in the service of private industry a centerpiece of Canada’s foreign policy. As The Globe and Mail reported in May 2015, Martin Zablocki, the president and chief executive of the Canadian Commercial Corporation, sees the Middle East as a “strategic region” for sales of Canadian arms sales. Further, The Globe and Mail reported that the CCC has actively sought new markets for military goods as “part of a push by the federal government to beef up Canada’s role as an arms dealer.”
Fact 9: Other developments, such as the expansion of the Automatic Firearms Country Control List, point to the erosion of military export control standards in Canada.
The Automatic Firearms Country Control List (AFCCL), which was designed to restrict the foreign market for Canadian-sourced automatic firearms, is becoming less and less restrictive. As only countries on the list can receive Canadian firearms, countries have been added to the list as potential markets and lucrative deals have emerged for Canadian-made weapons — and as old, trustworthy clients have cut back on their purchases.
The number of countries on the AFCCL has tripled — from 13 to 39 — since it was established in 1991.
Fact 10: Canada’s minority position as a non-signatory to the Arms Trade Treaty denies it a voice in a critical international process to better regulate the arms trade.
The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which came into force in December 2014, is widely seen as a major diplomatic achievement, as it seeks to regulate the global arms trade and prevent military exports from fueling human rights violations and armed conflict. A key feature of the treaty is the expectation that arms deals be conducted with the utmost transparency, so that the risk of human rights violations by the end users can be easily assessed. The historic First Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty was held on August 24-27 in Mexico. Crucial decisions were made on the treaty’s rules of procedure; financing mechanisms that will ensure its sustainability; decision-making rules, such as voting thresholds for procedural and substantive matters; the location, makeup, and role of the ATT secretariat; and the rights and responsibilities of states, industry, and civil society during subsequent meetings of states parties. What say did Canada have on these consequential matters? None. Canada is the only country in North America, the only member of the G7 group of industrialized nations, and the only one of the 28 members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization that has not signed the Arms Trade Treaty. Other non-signatories include South Sudan, North Korea, Somalia, Pakistan, Syria, and — perhaps not surprisingly — Saudi Arabia. Cesar Jaramillo chairs a discussion on “Canada and the global arms trade” Sept. 21 in Waterloo.
The original source of this article is Open Canada Copyright © Cesar Jaramillo, Open Canada, 2015
Site Admin
Posts: 8493
Joined: Wed May 03, 2006 3:23 pm

Return to Canada in MIDDLE EAST/EUROPE

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest