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Saudi ship banned from loading weapons in France arrives in Spain

May 14, 2019 at 4:08 am

Royal Saudi Navy, 10 May 2019 [Mattbuck/Wikipedia]

A Saudi ship, which has been prevented by human rights groups from loading arms shipment in the French Port du Louvre on Friday, arrived at the Spanish Santander Port on Monday morning. Thus, it is not yet clear what the Saudi ship is doing in Santander or how long it will remain there.

The Spanish Interior Ministry stated that it has no information about the ship. Hence, no comments were provided by the defence and foreign ministries.

French human rights organisation ACAT filed a lawsuit on Thursday claiming that the arms shipment violated an international treaty because weapons might be used against civilians in Yemen. However, a French judge rejected the case.

French President Emmanuel Macron defended the Saudi arms shipment on Thursday, declaring that Riyadh assured him that the weapons would not be used against civilians. The Saudi naval vessel “Bahri Yanbu’” sailed towards Santander shortly after the verdict, but without the arms shipment.

This coincided with the announcement made by Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders that his country is willing to suspend the export of arms to Saudi Arabia because of the war in Yemen.

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Reynders indicated that he invited Belgian arms manufacturers to stop exporting arms used by Saudi Arabia in the war on Yemen.

He added, during a radio interview, that human rights considerations should be a priority, calling on the prime minister to immediately stop the export of these weapons.

The Belgian Foreign Minister stressed the need to stop sending more military exports to Saudi Arabia, as reports have revealed that Belgian weapons had been used during the battles in Yemen.

Reynders expressed his hope for a united European position to stop the export of arms to Saudi Arabia while admitting that the European countries are not ready for such a step currently.

A secret report prepared by the Direction du Renseignement Militaire (DRM) and published by the investigative website, Disclose, last April showed that French weapons were being used against civilians in Yemen’s civil war.

According to the report, some 50 French-made Caesars were used along the border between Saudi Arabia and Yemen to support forces loyal to President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi.

The report detailed how thousands of Yemeni civilians are at risk due to the use of French weapons. According to information provided in the document, 35 civilians were killed between March 2016 and December 2018 during the bombardment of areas within the scope of the French self-propelled gun-howitzer.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed during the war between the Saudi-led coalition and the Iranian-backed Houthis. Thus, battles between conflicting parties have caused what the United Nations described as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.

READ: Saudi security forces kill 8 people in Shia region