Stop arms shipments to Saudi Arabia: Rideau Institute

The Rideau Institute is calling on the Canadian government to prevent further shipments to Saudi Arabia of military vehicles made in Canada, and to institute an embargo on the export of all military goods to the region during the current political turmoil.

On March 14, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates entered Bahrain in an effort to shore up the Bahraini government, which has been facing escalating demands from citizens for democratic reforms. Several civilians have been killed.

Among the vehicles used by the Saudi troops are light armoured vehicles that appear to have come from Canada. More than 1200 LAVs built by General Motors Diesel Division (now General Dynamics Land Systems Canada) of London, Ontario were sold to the Saudi Arabian National Guard in the 1990s and early 2000s. (See report here.)

And more sales are apparently on the way. The Washington Post reported on November 25, 2009 that the Saudi Arabian National Guard would begin receiving an additional 724 light armoured vehicles produced in Canada in April 2011. The status of these deliveries is unclear.

“Arms built in Canada should not be used to prevent democracy in Bahrain or anywhere else,” said Steven Staples, President of the Rideau Institute. “As more people in the Middle East and North Africa demand more accountability from their governments, Canadians should be very concerned about Canada exporting arms to that region.”

The Government of Canada’s export control policies are intended to “closely control” military exports to countries “involved in or under threat of hostilities” and countries “whose governments have a persistent record of serious violations of the human rights of their citizens.”

Tags: Arms trade, Bahrain, Defence policy, General Dynamics Land Systems, LAVs, Light Armoured Vehicles, Saudi Arabia, Steven Staples