Finland has joined Germany and Denmark in halting exports of military equipment to Saudi Arabia over the devastating war in Yemen, in the latest fallout from the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The Finnish government announced on Thursday it will also stop exporting arms to the United Arab Emirates, a member of a Saudi-led coalition which has waged a deadly war on the innocent people of Yemen since 2015.
In a statement, the Nordic country cited ‘the alarming humanitarian situation in Yemen’ as the reason for halting arms exports to both Arab countries.
The country said it was “complying with the European Union’s arms export criteria, which take particular account of human rights and the protection of regional peace, security and stability.”
Earlier in the day, Denmark announced it had stopped selling weapons to Riyadh in response to the assassination of Khashoggi and the regime’s bombing campaign in Yemen.
“With the continued deterioration of the already terrible situation in Yemen and the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, we are now in a new situation,” Denmark’s Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen said in a statement.
Samuelsen said the decision was taken following a series of meetings with EU counterparts earlier this week.
“Denmark already has a very restrictive policy in this area, but I hope that the Danish decision will generate further momentum and induce more EU member states to support a tougher sets of EU rules on this,” said Samuelsen.
The European Parliament (EP) said last week that the European Union’s arms exports to Saudi Arabia are stoking the deadly war on Yemen, calling for sanctions on the countries that refuse to respect the EU’s rules on weapons sales.
Calls for a suspension of arms sales to Riyadh and its allies have increased, especially after the killing of Khashoggi in Turkey last month, which is blamed on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Many governments have promised to stop arms exports to Saudi Arabia, but only Germany has suspended its sales until clear explanations are made about the murder. The UK, France and Spain have all signaled that they will continue business as usual.
According to figures compiled by the Middle East Eye, European countries have approved arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE worth more than $86.7 billion since 2015.
Saudi crown prince gets warm welcome in UAE
In his first foreign trip after issuing the order to kill Khashoggi, bin Salman on Thursday arrived in the UAE as part of a “tour of a number of brotherly Arab countries”, which will later take him to Bahrain, Egypt, and Tunisia, according to media reports.
Upon arrival in the UAE, he was warmly welcomed by his close ally Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi.
“We’re proud of our deep-rooted ties. Close cooperation and a fruitful partnership lies in store for our countries. The UAE will always be a loving and supportive home for our brothers in Saudi Arabia,” bin Zayed said in a tweet.
The two officials discussed “regional and international” developments and the “challenges and threats facing the Middle East region”, AFP reported, citing the UAE’s state-run news outlet, WAM.
Bin Salman and bin Zayed are both under fire by the international community for the ongoing bloodshed in Yemen.
A rights group based in France recently filed a lawsuit against bin Zayed during his visit to Paris over his complicity in war crimes committed in Yemen.
The complaint filed by the International Alliance for the Defense of Rights and Freedoms (AIDL) on Wednesday accused Prince Mohammed – the deputy supreme commander of the UAE Armed Forces – of war crimes, complicity in torture and inhumane treatment in Yemen.
The complaint cited a report by UN experts that said airstrikes conducted by a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE on Yemen may amount to war crimes and that torture was carried out in two centers run by Emirati troops.
Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the aim of bringing the government of former Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crushing the country’s Houthi Ansarullah movement.
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