Canadian-made armoured vehicles enter Bahrain


Advance video to 2:23 to see suspected Canadian-made light armoured vehicles.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates sent troops into neighbouring Bahrain on Monday in an effort to shore up the Bahraini government, which has been facing escalating demands for democratic reform. An estimated 1200 soldiers from the Saudi National Guard and 800 from the UAE entered the country from Saudi Arabia, ostensibly to help protect public infrastructure (Ethan Bronner & Michael Slackman, “Saudi Troops Enter Bahrain to Help Put Down Unrest,” New York Times, 14 March 2011).

The video above shows Saudi humvees, troop trucks, other support vehicles, and light armoured vehicles (LAVs) driving into Bahrain.

During the 1990s and early 2000s Canada sold more than 1200 LAVs built by General Motors Diesel Division (now General Dynamics Land Systems Canada) of London, Ontario to the Saudi National Guard.

As arms trade critics such as Project Ploughshares have long pointed out, the Saudi National Guard exists primarily to ensure the continued dominance of the Saudi royal family, and there has always been a great danger that equipment sold to the National Guard would end up used against Saudi civilians. Such arguments of course had little or no effect on the Canadian politicians and officials in charge of controlling Canadian arms sales.

It now appears that the National Guard’s Canadian-built LAVs will also be used to try to prevent democracy in Bahrain.

In 2009 General Dynamics Land Systems received a $2.2-billion contract to supply an additional 724 LAVs to an “unidentified” foreign buyer, universally understood to be once again the Saudi National Guard. Deliveries of those vehicles are supposed to begin next month.

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