2,870% hike in Spain arms sales to Saudis in one year

Saudi Arabia's Mohamed bin Salman w/ Abu Dhabi's Mohamed bin Zayed. Photo: Saudi Press Agency / DPA via El Diario
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The policy of Spain’s “progressive” coalition government regarding arms sales to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has made a radical about-face since the government led by President Pedro Sánchez of the Socialist party announced in September 2018 the cancellation of the sale of 400 laser-guided smart bombs valued at 9.2 million euros to Saudi Arabia.

Retracting almost immediately the next month, the Sánchez government clarified that it was placing the sale “on hold”, pending a review to determine the bombs’ use would comply with the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and not be used to target civilian areas by Saudi planes in the ongoing civil war in neighboring Yemen.

Then, Sánchez appeared before Congress to confirm that the sale would go ahead because it was made under a 2015 contract that his government did not negotiate and could not legally override.

And, then the Socialist government imposed an 18-month news blackout on the sale of armaments to the Saudis, lifted only in February of this year when the government’s Ministry of Industry reported to Congress that there had been a slowdown in the sale of weaponry to Saudia Arabia.

► News Sources: El Diario, Europa Press and Público …

However, figures released by the Ministry’s Secretariat of Commerce this week show that what appears to have actually occurred during the 18-month blackout period was a skyrocketing growth in sales of weaponry to the Saudis.

From the 13.2 million euros worth of arms authorized in the first six months of 2018 by the previous conservative Partido Popular government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, arms sales to the Saudis during the rest 2018 under the Sánchez goverment did indeed grind to a halt — zero weaponry was sold for the remainder of 2018 by the Socialists.

Not so in 2019, however, when the sale of Spanish armaments to the Saudis soared to 392 million euros’ worth, representing a rise of 2,870 percent over the total 13.2 million in sales the previous year as the government granted 22 different licenses to Spanish arms manufacturers to export weaponry to the Saudis.

According to a report in the daily El Diario newspaper, the breakdown of the 392.78 million euros worth of weaponry included 76.2 million euros worth of ammunition, 1.3 million in bombs and 315 million in aircraft. An estimated 97 of the Spanish contracts were with the Saudi Armed Forces, which since 2015 have been participating in a Saudi-led coalition combating rebels in a bloody civil war in Yemen, where bombing targets are often in civilian areas, resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of non-combatants.

Government authorization for Spanish arms sales worldwide reached a record figure of 21.825 billion euros for the combined years 2018-2019.

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