17:12 GMT27 January 2021
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    Gulf States Launch Military Operation in Yemen (442)

    Despite its image as a peaceful country, Norway seems to make the most of its arms export to warring countries. Meanwhile, pressure has been rising on Norway to put a stop to its controversial weapons sales to the Saudi-led coalition that is waging a war in Yemen.

    A network of 50 Norwegian organizations, including Save the Children, the Christian Council of Norway, Red Cross Norway and the Norwegian Peace Association, demanded a thorough investigation of Oslo's weapons sales to countries that engage in the Yemeni civil war. Their demand was supported by the Liberal Left Party, whose spokesman Bård Vegar Solhjell also called for a complete halt of sales to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Egypt, all of which are bombing Yemen.

    "I see no reason at all why Norway should go on with its weapons exports to some of the countries that are at war, and Yemen war is very brutal, with documented violations of international humanitarian law identified by the UN and other organizations," Bård Vegar Solhjell told Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet.

    Norwegian export control rules state explicitly that Norway "will not allow the sale of weapons and ammunition to areas where there in an ongoing war or a threat of war, or to countries where a civil war goes on." According to regulations, military equipment will not be exported in case of an obvious danger of weapons being used for repression. Previously, Norway stopped its weapons sales to Israel and Colombia, as well as Egypt and Bahrain during the Arab Spring.

    "To sell weapons to countries involved in the Yemeni war is contrary to the established Norwegian tradition," Solhjell commented.

    According to Solhjell, the Saudi-led coalition has been proven to lie behind numerous violations of international law, and there is a risk that Norwegian weapons or other defense equipment directly or indirectly contributes to violations of international law.

    Norway's yearly arms export constitutes 2.4 billion NOK (roughly $300 million), placing Norway in tenth place on the 2014 list of the world's biggest arms dealers. In 2014, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait were all among Mid-Eastern importers of Norwegian arms. The same year, Saudi Arabia and the UAE bought 10.3 million NOK ($1.3mln) and 44.5 million NOK ($5.5mln) worth of Norwegian arms respectively.

    In January 2016, the Red Cross first voiced fears that Yemeni civilians could have been killed using Norwegian arms. In April, the Norwegian Foreign Ministry suspended its arms exports to the UAE citing fears for human rights violations.

    "The danger that Norwegian military equipment has been used in the war in Yemen against civilians is very real. The problem is that the Norwegian authorities will not give out accurate information about what exactly has been sold, and that it is therefore impossible to get a proper debate on what is actually happening," Gerald Folkvord, an adviser to Amnesty Norway told Dagbladet earlier this year.

    Norwegian surveillance vessel Marjata
    Yemen has been engulfed in a raging military conflict between the government headed by Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and Houthi rebels since 2014. The Houthis are backed by army units loyal to former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. In March 2015, the Saudi-led coalition launched an attack on the Houthis, whereupon the civil war transformed into a regional war with many players involved. According to the UN, the conflict has claimed over 10,000 lives, injuring at least 31,401. At least 2.5 million people have been displaced due the conflict, in which all parties reportedly committed war crimes, bombing civilians, hospitals and schools. The Red Cross previously requested a worldwide export ban to countries participating in the war.

    Gulf States Launch Military Operation in Yemen (442)


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    Yemen War, arms export, Dagbladet, Scandinavia, Yemen, Norway, Saudi Arabia
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