Spain’s coalition government has lifted temporary restrictions on the sales of Spanish-made munitions and equipment to Saudia Arabia, with sales to be approved on a case-by-case basis and with a ban on “lethal material” that the government says might be used by the Saudi-led coalition in the civil war in Yemen.
The news surfaced last week after the government lifted an 18-month information blackout regarding sales of Spanish-made weaponry abroad, with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism releasing figures to the Congress detailing the sale of weaponry and equipment worth 2.41 million euros to foreign governments during the first half of 2019 and totaling 3.72 million during the previous year.
Saudi Arabia ranked third among purchasers of Spanish weaponry and equipment in the first half of 2018, with 183.4 million euros worth of sales accounting for 10.8 percent of total exports by Spain during the period.
But, the pace of sales of Spanish weaponry and equipment to the Saudis began to fall in late 2018 after the Socialist government of President Pedro Sanchez came to power in May, ending the year with just 235.3 million worth of sales for just 6.3 percent of the total, placing Saudi Arabia in sixth place among military export markets for Spain. By July 2019, the Saudi market had fallen out of the top 10 export markets for Spanish military sales, accounting for just 23.5 million euros worth of sales, for less than 1 percent of the total during the six-month period.
According to the Ministry’s Secretariat for Trade, the slowdown in the arms sales occurred as the government began to look carefully at sales of military weapons and equipment to the Saudis on a contract by contract basis. Moving forward, government says it now has controls in place to ensure that no lethal weaponry will be sold that might be used by the Saudi military in Yemen, where the Saudis have been accused of indiscriminate bombing in civilian areas in their support of the Yemeni government’s war against Houthi insurgents.
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