Biden Ends Support for Saudi Yemen Offensive Including Arm Sales While Trudeau Sees Saudi Arm Sales Double

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Biden Ends Support for Saudi Yemen Offensive Including Arm Sales While Trudeau Sees Saudi Arm Sales Double

Without doubt over the last 75 years, the US has been the biggest outside troublemaker in the Middle East, with Biden playing a major role in that, but he has now cut support for the Saudi attack on Yemen and cut related arm sales as Yemenis face the world's worst famine and a horrendous death toll from the war. Meanwhile, the Trudeau Liberals have not addressed our role in the problem, especially with regard to our $14.8 billion contract to sell armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia which have been used in the war. The deal started under Harper, but in 2019 under Trudeau we doubled our arms sales to Saudi Arabia, making Canada the #2 arms seller in the Middle East, while keeping most of the arm sales agreement secret. This doubling comes after Trudeau placed a moratorium on arm sales on new arms exports to the Saudis. Some moratorium! It's long past time for this to change. The claim that Canada only sells defensive weapons is ridiculous, especially when we also sell the Saudis artillery and heavy machine guns. 

Canada sold a record amount of military hardware to Saudi Arabia in 2019, despite sharply criticizing its poor human rights record and placing a moratorium on any new exports to the kingdom. 

Newly released figures show Canada sold nearly C$3bn (US$2.2bn) worth of military equipment to Saudi Arabia in 2019 – more than double the total of the previous year, reported the Globe and Mail. The bulk of the exports were light armoured vehicles, part of a deal with the Saudis worth C$14.8bn. The record figures come despite a moratorium on export permits following the killing of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and mounting civilian deaths from the war in Yemen. The government’s decision not to issue new permits does not affect existing permits. A permit can cover multiple items and as a result, companies have existing permits for years. 

Justin Trudeau says Canada is looking to pull out of Saudi arms deal “I struggle to know what ‘moratorium’ means to this government, because to me, when there’s a moratorium on something, you can’t increase the sales of that thing. And exactly what seems to have happened,” said Mark Kersten, deputy director of the Wayamo Foundation. ...

Canada also exported more than 30 large-calibre artillery systems and 152 heavy machine guns to Saudi Arabia.

The multi-billion-dollar arms deal with the kingdom was initiated under a previous Conservative government in 2014, but continued under the Liberals.  At the time it was signed, it was the largest export deal in Canada’s history, making the country the second-largest arms exporter to the Middle East. ..

Rights groups, academics and policy advisers have long called on Trudeau to cancel the deal, and follow the example of Germany and Sweden which both cancelled arms contracts with Saudi Arabia following public outrage over Khashoggi’s murder. The Liberal government argued that Canada would incur billions of dollars in penalties if it tore up the contract.


In April 2o20 the Trudeau Liberals signed a new "improved" arms deal with Saudi Arabia with the Liberals proclaiming it offered greater transparency to the ultra secretive previous agreement and therefore allowed it to lift the arms sales freeze. When asked about the details Foreign Affairs Minister Champagne he couldn't discuss them. He seemed more concerned about the improved payment schedule. Tells you everything you need to know.  

Saudi Arabia still has a troubling human rights record but Canada’s foreign affairs minister says an amended contract to sell it light-armoured vehicles is better than the version the previous Conservative government negotiated.

Francois-Philippe Champagne offered that explanation Thursday as he defended the government’s decision to announce — just hours before the start of a holiday long weekend — that it had improved the much-maligned $14-billion contract to sell light-armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia.

Champagne said the government was able to make significant improvements to the contract, including making its terms more transparent and eliminating Canada’s exposure to risk when it runs into issues with future export permits.

Champagne said two new amendments to the deal, negotiated by Finance Minister Bill Morneau in recent months, were signed on March 31 and the government just wanted to tell Canadians about it as soon as it could. He said 50 per cent of the vehicles had been delivered and that Morneau managed to make improvements to the Saudi “payment schedule.” ...

But he said he couldn’t go into any further detail on that because of commercial confidentiality. ...

The Liberal government has been under pressure since winning power in 2015 to cancel the contract between Saudi Arabia and Ontario-based General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada because of concerns over Saudi Arabia’s poor human-rights record.

Champagne reiterated past Liberal complaints that they were hamstrung by the confidentiality provisions of the contract, which was negotiated by the previous Conservative government in 2014, and that cancelling it could cost jobs in the manufacturing sector.

Champagne and Morneau said in a joint statement that the cancellation of the contract “or even the mere disclosure of any of its terms” could have cost the government billions of dollars, including up to its full value.

“This would have put the jobs of thousands of Canadians at risk, not only in southwestern Ontario but also across the entire defence industry supply chain, which includes hundreds of small and medium enterprises,” they said.


In September 2020 Canada faced fresh demands to end its arms sales to Saudi Arabia after a UN panel named Canada as one of the countries fueling the Yemen war. In Canada 39 groups ranging from unions to arms control and human rights groups pushed for the Trudeau Liberals to stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is facing fresh calls to end arms exports to Saudi Arabia after a United Nations panel named Canada for the first time as one of the countries helping fuel the war in Yemen.

A coalition of 39 human-rights, arms-control and labour groups, including the Public Service Alliance of Canada, which is the largest union in the federal government, have signed a letter urging Mr. Trudeau to stop arms sales to the desert kingdom.

Combat vehicles of the kind that Canada sells to Saudi Arabia – in a deal brokered and approved for export by the federal government – have been spotted in the Yemeni conflict, in which Riyadh is leading a fight against Houthi rebels believed to be supported by Iran.

The letter is dated Sept. 17, and the coalition of signatories said this is the first anniversary of Canada’s accession to the global Arms Trade Treaty, an accord intended to bring uniform standards to the international sale of conventional weapons.

However, they said in the past calendar year, Canada’s arms exports to Saudi Arabia more than doubled. Canadian shipments of military goods to Saudi Arabia hit a record high in 2019, almost entirely owing to a $14-billion contract to sell light armoured vehicles (LAVs) to the kingdom. Canada exported nearly $2.9-billion worth of military equipment to Saudi Arabia last year, nearly all of it LAVs made in London, Ont., by a subsidiary of U.S. defence contractor General Dynamics Corp.

Arms shipments to Saudi Arabia now account for more than 75 per cent of Canada’s military exports to countries other than the United States, the groups say.


Once again pressure is growing on Canada to end its arm sales to Saudi Arabia after Biden announced a hold on weapon sales to the Saudis. 

Only seven days into the Biden presidency, the U.S. government announced a hold on weapons worth tens of billions of dollars to these countries, including “precision-guided munitions” to Saudi Arabia and “F-35 fighter jets and armed drones” to the UAE. This action marks a significant departure from recent U.S. arms export policy.

North of the United States, little has changed. Canada continues to export weapons to both Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

If the United States, the world’s largest arms dealer, is willing to end some arms sales on humanitarian grounds, it will become more difficult for Canada to justify its own weapons exports. Perhaps, a new American resolve to restrict at least some arms sales could encourage Canada to adjust its own policy on arms exports.

The war that UN Secretary-General António Guterres calls the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe has raged in Yemen since 2014. Begun when Houthi rebels forced President Hadi from the capital, the conflict has become a regional struggle between the Houthis and their supporters, thought to include Iran, and the Yemeni government that is supported by a Saudi-led coalition that includes the UAE. That coalition has received substantial military aid from the United States, the United Kingdom, and France.

The UN Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen has repeatedly said that those who export weapons to Saudi Arabia and its allies, including the United States, are facilitating the violence in Yemen. In 2020, for the first time, the group identified Canada as one of the countries “helping to perpetuate the conflict.” ...

While it remains unlikely that the United States will end most or all military exports to Saudi Arabia, the freezing of some arms sales does indicate a new  and more distant relationship. ...

A number of European countries, including Germany, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, and Belgium have also reduced or ended arms exports to Saudi Arabia, citing human-rights concerns and the war in Yemen. ...

In the meantime, Saudi Arabia has become Canada’s #1 customer for arms exports. In 2019, Canada sent the Saudis arms valued at nearly $3-billion. Included were 183 light-armoured vehicles (LAVs) that came under a 2014 arms deal worth $14-billion, the biggest in Canadian history.

These exports have continued despite Canada’s 2019 accession to the Arms Trade Treaty, consistent public and civil-society opposition, and the growing pool of evidence that the arms being exported are fueling the conflict in Yemen, making such exports illegal under Canadian and international law.

Most Canadian polls conducted since 2015 show that respondents believe that Canada should stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia. There also appears to be growing dissent within the governing Liberal party. In December, Toronto-area Liberal MP Adam Vaughan stated that Canada should cut arms exports to Saudi Arabia. Following this January’s local protests in support of the Global Day of Action for Yemen, he told The Globe and Mail that he “believe[s] the humanitarian crisis in Yemen requires us to suspend military shipments to the region.” This is the first time that any Liberal or Conservative MP has broken party ranks on this issue.



Let's hope Biden is serious. This ME commentator is skeptical. We will soon see.

'Biden has just halted US support for Saudi Arabia's campaign of destruction in Yemen'

"It's not going to end because Trump's FTO (Foreign Terrorist Organization) and SDGT [Specially Designated Global Terrorist] designations of the Houthis are still in place. A temporary 1 month exemption from OFAC [Office of Foreign Assets Control] means jack. This is a distraction from what will be the largest famine in decades if nothing is done now."

But collectively  Canadians most certainly have the ability to cancel Trudeau's obscene Saudi arms deals if they decide it's important enough to make the effort. Otherwise, like support for Saudi's new ME partner Israel also, Canada's awful contribution to the Yemen slaughter will continue as long as the Saudi checks cash.

[email protected]


President Joe Biden’s administration is moving to revoke the designation of Yemen’s Houthis as a terrorist group, citing the need to mitigate one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters.


Let me know when he stops moving and reaches that 'goal.' I'm guessing this leads to more intervention not less. We'll see.


'Nazi Germany used starvation as a weapon of war and that's exactly what's happening in Yemen right now' (and vid)

"The genocidal war on Yemen is led by Washington, obsessed with destroying every independent state in the region. Saudi Arabia is just the cat's paw..."

And with Biden, Canada continues its Saudi arms sales and complicity.


The title of this Jacobin article, "Under Trudeau, Canada Is Saudi Arabia’s Most Dedicated Gunrunner", summarizes the article perfectly. Canada is the #2 arms supplier for Saudi Arabia, behind only the US. 

In the run-up to Canada’s 2015 federal election, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau promised voters a renewed vision of Canadian foreign policy, including hikes in foreign aid, deployments of Canadian UN peacekeepers, and the use of a feminist perspective. Under Trudeau, Canada was supposed to be a broker of peace and a beacon of progressive values.

However, during Trudeau’s time as prime minister, Canada has exported more weapons abroad than at any point in its history. Some of these arms sales have been directed to the most repressive regimes in the world.

Canada’s top customer for arms, apart from the United States, is Saudi Arabia, a regime that is guilty of human rights abuses at home and war crimes abroad. The Saudi Kingdom is the leader of a coalition that has committed well-documented international humanitarian law violations — including the indiscriminate targeting of civilians — in Yemen’s civil war. By approving the export of arms to the Saudi regime, Trudeau’s government is complicit in such atrocities. ...

While the Conservative government may have orchestrated the deal, it was the Liberals who actually greenlighted the arms shipments. Government documents published in April 2016 show that Trudeau’s minister of foreign affairs, Stéphane Dion, formally approved the export of the LAVs more than four months after the Liberals took power. The memo describes Saudi Arabia, a state that uses mass executions as a means of political repression, as a “key partner for Canada” and a “regional leader promoting regional security and stability.”

Following the assassination of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents in October 2018, Canada did freeze arms exports to Saudi Arabia. However, this pause affected only new export permits. It did not prevent any of the LAVs that had already received permit approvals from leaving Canadian soil. In fact, exports even increased by 111 percent over this period of roughly a year and a half. ...

During this time, Canada acceded to the Arms Trade Treaty, the first internationally binding framework to control the trade and transfer of conventional weapons. As a result, Canada’s arming of states that might misuse Canadian weapons became a breach of international law (although doing so was already a violation of Canadian law). ...


The new US administration has now joined them. Secretary of state Antony Blinken, at his first press briefing on January 27, announced a hold on arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE worth tens of billions of dollars.

This arms freeze constitutes a welcome reversal of the policy of the Trump administration. The policy change has come about largely due to years of lobbying by arms control advocates and grassroots organizations, with support from the progressive wing of the Democratic party.

Two days after Blinken’s announcement, Italy ended its export of smart bombs to the Saudi-led coalition. In early February, the European Parliament reiterated its call for member states to endorse an EU-wide ban on weapons to members of the coalition.

But we cannot be sure that the winds of change will have a lasting effect. Any long-term freeze on US arms exports to Saudi Arabia seems unlikely at this point. The current suspension — as part of a “review” — is implicitly temporary. ...

In June 2020, Canada was unsuccessful in its bid for a seat on the UN Security Council. Many commentators saw Canada’s booming weapons sales to Saudi Arabia as a clear reason for this failure.

But nothing changed in practice. An investigation ordered by the Canadian government in the wake of the Khashoggi killing determined that the exported arms posed “no substantial riskof being used in violation of international humanitarian law, facilitating gender-based violence, or being subject to diversion — the illicit transfer of a weapon system from its specified end use or end user. Despite clear evidence to contradict these politically convenient findings, exports to the Saudis continued.

Saudi Arabia supplied written guarantees that Canadian LAVs would be used only for internal security purposes. But there are numerous photographs and videos of these LAVs being diverted to the Yemen conflict. Diversion is illegal under Canadian and international law, and awareness of diversion requires Canadian officials to revoke any further export approvals to the offending party.

Canada has also sold other weapons to the Saudis, including thousands of Winnipeg-made sniper rifles. They, too, have been illicitly diverted, in this case to the military forces of the Saudi-aligned Yemeni government. ...

In September 2020, the UN Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen — the same panel that identified American weapons as directly fueling the war — accused Canada of “helping to perpetuate the conflict” through the provision of arms to the Saudis. Only four other countries have earned this “distinction.” ...

In early February this year, the leader of Canada’s left-wing New Democratic Party, Jagmeet Singh, once again called on the Canadian government to stop LAV exports to Saudi Arabia: “There is a time when the clear human rights violations perpetrated by a country make it so we cannot sell them arms.” To preserve the jobs of GDLS-C workers, Singh urged the government to purchase LAVs for the Canadian Armed Forces.

If even the United States, where the term “military industrial complex” was coined, is willing to curtail its arms exports on human rights grounds, its northern neighbor should be willing to do the same. Until it does, Canada’s self-presentation as a peace broker and beacon of progressive values will be a comforting fantasy, dismissed out of hand by the rest of the world.