Updated: Weekly Roundup on Warsaw Ministerial, INF Treaty and Canadian weapons in Yemen

In this week’s blog we look at the outcome of the U.S.-led Warsaw Ministerial, the state of the INF Treaty now that Russia too is withdrawing and a stark reminder of why Canadian accession to the global Arms Trade Treaty is more pressing than ever. [And see blockbuster update below on a  new report which finds UK arms ‘highly likely to be cause of significant civilian casualties in Yemen’.]

Warsaw Ministerial To Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East

While the title of the conference reflects linguistic subterfuge of Orwellian proportions, its planning and execution were a ham-fisted debacle. Alex Ward, an analyst who shares the Trump administration’s deep concerns over Iranian behaviour, writes:

A US-led conference in Warsaw this week that was intended to isolate Iran has ended up isolating America instead — highlighting one of the central problems of President Donald Trump’s foreign policy.

However, for an alarming assessment of the real beneficiary of this fiasco – and what it means for heightening the risk of a war with Iran – see: Warsaw summit was a failure for Trump – but a win for Netanyahu (Trita Parsi, Middle East Eye, 15 Feb 2019). This article outlines “five central victories in Warsaw” for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu:

  • autocratic Arab leaders sharing the stage with Netanyahu in utter abandonment of the Palestinians
  • deepening U.S.- Iran enmity
  • the U.S. moving closer to a military confrontation with Iran
  • much needed political benefit for Netanyahu back home; and
  • the widening rift between the U.S. and EU and within the EU.

Trita Parsi concludes:

All in all, the Warsaw summit may have been a “dumpster fire” for the Trump administration and an embarrassment to Europe. But for Netanyahu, he could hardly have wished for a better gathering.

To which, we would add: and a security-diminishing event for all of us.

Whither Canada?

The anti-Iran focus of the conference led several European countries to downgrade their representation. As of late afternoon on 15 February, Ceasefire.ca had been unable to ascertain anything at all about Canada’s approach to this conference. The usual press advisory had not been released and telephone and email requests yielded nothing.

Further alarm over deterioration of INF Treaty

This week saw several more voices of concern being raised over the American notice to withdraw from the INF Treaty – the subject of our 1 Feb 2018 blog – and the Russian response in kind. The Editorial Board of the New York Times asks:

Will there be a dangerous new era of unchecked nuclear weapons development?

For the full article see: For Decades, the United States and Russia Stepped Back From the Brink. Until Now. (NYTimes Editorial Board, 10 Feb 2019).

Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director of the Arms Control Association, makes it abundantly clear that there are eminently feasible diplomatic and technical solutions to this crisis. But the ball is decidedly in the European court if progress is to be made.

Whether the Trump administration has the interest or diplomatic bandwidth to pursue post-INF missile limitation agreements for Europe is not clear. But leading NATO states most affected by the termination of INF, including Germany can and should, in coordination with the United States, develop such and engage in serious talks with Russia. The time do so is now, before it is too late.

For the full article, see: Two Ideas That Might Stop a Post-INF Arms Race, and One That Won’t (DefenseOne.com, 11 Feb 2019).

We call on the Government of Canada to work with our European allies to help bring both the USA and Russia back into compliance with the INF Treaty.

Canadian Membership in the global Arms Trade Treaty more urgently needed than ever.

Back in late 2018, investigative journalist, Martin Lukacs, wrote a seminal piece on the mountains of Canadian military equipment that have made their way from Saudi Arabia to the Yemen conflict. See: Is Saudi Arabia deploying Canadian-made weapons in Yemen? (By Martin Lukacs in Canada’s National Observer, November 30th 2018). He writes:

With the Trudeau government’s approval, $2.4 billion in military goods — mostly weaponized combat vehicles, and another $100 million in guns, bombs, rockets or missiles, ammunition, surveillance components for war helicopters, drones, and armour — have been shipped to Saudi Arabia since the war on Yemen started in 2015, according to National Observer’s calculations of government statistics.

In the view of  RI President Peggy Mason, these shocking statistics on the sheer bulk of Canadian weaponry in Yemen highlight the urgency of Canadian accession to the Arms Trade Treaty, before the fall federal election.

Under Canada’s enabling legislation – Bill C-47 – the Foreign Minister must disallow arms exports where there is a “substantial risk” they will be used to commit or to facilitate serious human rights abuses and/or undermine regional or international security….

In plain English, Canadian armaments to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other members of the Saudi-led coalition wreaking havoc on innocent civilians in Yemen will have to end.

Update: A new parliamentary Report finds UK arms ‘highly’ like to be the cause of significant civilian casualties in Yemen. Guardian diplomatic editor Patrick Wintour writes:

It is the first unanimous report from a [UK] parliamentary committee describing Saudi arms export sales as unlawful, and comes ahead of an imminent high court appeal by campaigners to block arms sales to Saudi Arabia on the grounds they are in breach of humanitarian law.

For the full article, see: UK’s Saudi weapons sales unlawful, Lords committee finds (Patrick Wintour, Guardian.com, 16 Feb 2019).

Clearly Canada is becoming more and more isolated in its continued export of military equipment to Saudi Arabia.

Photo credit: Defence Dept. of Pakistan (Warsaw Ministerial)


Tags: "substantial risk" criteria, Arms Control Association, Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), Bill C-47, European Union (EU), INF Treaty, International Humanitarian Law (IHL), Iran, Israel, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Saudi-led coalition, USA, Warsaw Ministerial to Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East, Yemen