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    Switzerland Partly Lifts Ban on Middle East Arms Exports

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    The Swiss Federal Council has partially lifted a ban on arms exports to Middle Eastern countries in place since last year, local media reported Wednesday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — In March 2015, the Swiss government suspended arms supply deals with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in response to violence escalation in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition had begun conducting air strikes against Houthi rebels.

    On Wednesday, Switzerland's government approved some previously blocked arms deals, the Telebasel television broadcaster reported.

    With over 50 Middle Eastern arms deal on hold, the government had come under substantial pressure from arms exporters, the broadcaster said, noting that the ban lift was cautious and that prohibitions on the exports that could end up in Yemen remain.

    With approved deal amounting to some 178 million Swiss francs ($184 million) having been approved, the government allowed the sale of air defense system, military aircraft and artillery spare parts and other defensive equipment that cannot be used in ground combat in Yemen.

    Yemen has been engulfed in a military conflict between the government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi with Saudi-led coalition backing on one side and Houthi rebels allied with the anti-Hadi General People's Congress (GPC) and army units loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh on the other.

    Since March 2015, a coalition led by Saudi Arabia, including the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Egypt, has been carrying out airstrikes against Houthi positions at Hadi's request.

    arms deliveries, Qatar, Yemen, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland
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