Since October 2nd the world has been gripped with the brutal and brazen murder of Washington Post journalist and Saudi national Jamal Khashoggi by a Saudi Arabian hit squad. The unspeakable crime took place in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey and was almost certainly carried out on the orders of Crown Prince Mohammed bin-Salman (MBS).
Global outrage has led to the German suspension of arms sales to the Kingdom and American congressional threats to do the same, despite President Trump’s extreme reluctance to jeopardize lucrative arms deals in any way. U.S. legislators are also calling for the resignation of the Crown Prince, described by one Republican Senator as a human “wrecking ball”.
I agree with those who say that [German] arms exports, which are already limited, cannot happen given the circumstances, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday.
What about Canada? After all, Saudi Arabia is our largest customer for military goods after the USA, due mainly to the $10-billion-plus contract to sell upgraded armoured vehicles to Riyadh, older versions of which have already been deployed in the brutal Saudi war in Yemen.
Prime Minister Trudeau discussed Canada’s position on a popular Quebec television program on Sunday evening, 21 October. He stated:
[I]n this contract, there are [human rights] clauses that must be followed in relation to the use of what is sold to them [the Saudis].… If they do not follow these clauses, we will definitely cancel the contract. [translation from French]
Let us be clear. Whatever the terms of the contract originally negotiated by the Stephen Harper regime, Canada has full authority under both the Export and Import Permits Act AND the so-called Canadian Magnitsky Law of 2017 to cancel arms shipments to the Saudi Royal family in the face of gross human rights violations.
The real question is not one of legal authority — Canada has it — but of moral courage in the face of shocking depravity. – Peggy Mason, RI President.
Prime Minister Trudeau also addressed the issue Monday in Question Period:
We have frozen export permits before when we had concerns about their potential misuse and we will not hesitate to do so again….
Photo credit: Youtube image (Crown Prince MBS and Jamal Khashoggi)