Citizen Action Monitor

Saudi Arabia “is a key military ally to counter ISIS”, claims Global Affairs Canada. Really?

“The worst Islamic extremism and terrorism of the past two decades has tracked back to Saudi Arabia” – The Guardian.

No 1639 Posted by fw, April 13, 2016

“The document goes on to say that Canadian officials “engage regularly with Saudi officials” when required to raise human rights issues of concern while at the same time describing Canada’s military alliance with the kingdom as having been ‘cemented’ during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. ‘Saudi Arabia is a key military ally supporting international efforts to counter ISIS in Iraq and Syria as well as countering instability in Yemen,’ the documents says. ‘The acquisition of state-of-the-art armoured vehicles will assist Saudi Arabia in these goals, which are consistent with Canada’s defence interests in the Middle East.’”CBC News

moral high groundWhere in the world does Global Affairs Canada get its foreign intelligence from? The National Post? The Guardian is not known for investigative journalism, but even it seems to know more about the relations between Saudi Arabia and ISIS than Global Affairs Canada. Consider the following passage from an article the UK paper published over a year ago: Is it time to make Iran our friend and Saudi Arabia our enemy?

“Far from being a guarantee of stability in the Middle East, the western alliance with the kingdom is an impediment to peace…. most of the worst Islamic extremism and terrorism of the past two decades has tracked back, through funding and religious influence, ultimately, to Saudi Arabia. In this situation, the state we have been accustomed to seeing as our enemy (Iran) is starting to look more like a potential friend, and the state we treat as an ally looks more and more, if not like an enemy, like the sort of friend that renders it unnecessary to have enemies…. The key to success against Isis has to involve encouraging Sunni Arabs themselves to reject Isis…. Many would agree that the extremist Sunni ideology of Isis is merely a step on from, or the application of, the Wahhabi Islam that is the basis of Saudi Arabia. It is this extremism that is driving the burgeoning sectarian conflict between Sunni and Shia, potentially disastrous on a hitherto undreamed-of scale.”

One of the upwards of 1200 reader responses to this story cut right to the heart of Team Trudeau’s primary motive to approve the arms deal:

“I had hoped that the Liberals would show more moral decency than their predecessors. Jobs are a good thing for Canada, but at any price?”

By trying to pass off this fiction of Saudi Arabia as “a key military ally”, the Liberals show little respect for the intelligence of Canadians. Such political amateurs. Dion is at risk of losing all credibility.

Below is a reposting of the CBC story. To read the original report, see a video clip of Dion doing his best to defend the deal, and access the hundreds of readers’ comments to the story, click on the following linked title.

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Stéphane Dion approves export permits for $11B in LAVs to be sent to Saudi Arabia  by Peter Zimonjic et al, CBC News, April 12, 2016

Documents say past sales have not been linked to violations of civil or political rights in the kingdom

Documents obtained by CBC News are shedding light on the strategy the federal government is using to justify the sale of light armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia.

The newly revealed documents from Global Affairs Canada confirm that Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion has signed off on export permits to ship $11 billion worth of the $15-billion vehicle sale to the desert kingdom.

These documents also say that it’s rare for a foreign affairs minister to personally sign off on export permits, but that this is an exception because the deal is so high profile — and worth so much money.

The deal with Saudi Arabia was struck by Stephen Harper’s government, and when it was announced the Conservatives used the opportunity to tout the thousands of jobs it would create and sustain in southern Ontario.

But since the sale of vehicles by General Dynamics Land Systems was announced, questions have emerged over Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.

Saudi rights violations noted

The documents acknowledge these concerns noting; “the reported high number of executions, suppression of political opposition, the application of corporal punishment, suppression of freedom of expression, arbitrary arrest, ill-treatment of detainees, limitations of freedom of religion, discrimination against women and the mistreatment of migrant workers.”

The document goes on to say that Canadian officials “engage regularly with Saudi officials” when required to raise human rights issues of concern while at the same time describing Canada’s military alliance with the kingdom as having been “cemented” during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

“Saudi Arabia is a key military ally supporting international efforts to counter ISIS in Iraq and Syria as well as countering instability in Yemen,” the documents says.

“The acquisition of state-of-the-art armoured vehicles will assist Saudi Arabia in these goals, which are consistent with Canada’s defence interests in the Middle East.”

LAV sales not linked to abuses

The deal has been widely criticized by groups such as Amnesty International, which has raised concerns about how those weapons will be used by the Saudi regime.

There’s lots of stuff that Global Affairs Canada appears not to be aware of

The documents, however, insist that Global Affairs Canada is not aware of any reports linking violations of civil or political rights in the kingdom with proposed military exports.

“Canada has sold thousands of LAVs to Saudi Arabia since the 1990s, and, to the best of the department’s knowledge, there have been no incidents where they have been used in the perpetration of human rights violations,” the documents say.

The documents also draw attention to a story first reported by the CBC detailing how Canadian sniper rifles, sold to Saudi Arabia, were likely stolen “from Saudi forces by Houthi fighters during military operation along the Saudi-Yemeni border.”

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