The war in Yemen is calling the worst war in the world just now and has led to a humanitarian catastrophe with many starving people, not least children.
Recently, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and Finland have announced that they will stop or freeze arms exports to Saudi Arabia and in some cases also the United Arab Emirates. The countries entered the war in the spring of 2015.
– It is a catastrophe that is taking place in Yemen, and we must stop it, by Foreign Minister Margot Wallström (S) when she welcomed the warring parties to the UN peace talks at Johannesberg Castle in Gottröra this week.
“No new business”
But arms exports can continue as before. And Margot Wallström does not want to talk about it at all. She refers to Minister of Justice Morgan Johansson (S), who also does not want to talk about it without writing a comment:
“There are no new deals with Saudi Arabia. Sweden’s arms exports to Saudi Arabia currently only include consequential deliveries of spare parts, among other things. ”
Sweden has terminated the co-operation agreement with Saudi Arabia, and the arms export law was tightened this spring so that it can be more difficult to sell to countries that lack democracy.
Business with the United Arab Emirates gained momentum
But the spare parts for surveillance systems and anti-tank robots could make it easier for Saudi Arabia to continue the war, and several countries, including Norway and Denmark, are also stopping follow-up deliveries.
– If Swedish arms exports are to work and be credible, then different buyers need to know that they not only get the stuff but that they also have spare parts so that the system works, says Kenneth G Forslund (S), vice chairman of the Riksdag’s Foreign Affairs Committee.
And at the same time as Sweden became more stingy with weapons to Saudi Arabia, business really took off with the United Arab Emirates. Six months after the United Arab Emirates entered the war in Yemen in November 2015, Saab acquired its first – and so far only – customer for its new updated Globaleye surveillance system. Order value: SEK 10 billion.
– Globaleye is built to make it easier to make war. You can find the boats you want to hit to prevent weapon transports to the opponents. But you meet everything else as well and that is what can be considered to contribute to the humanitarian catastrophe, says Pieter Wezeman, expert on arms trade and the Middle East at Stockholm’s international peace research institute, Sipri.
New order from the United Arab Emirates
After that, business has continued. Exactly one year ago, Saab inaugurated a facility for the production and development of defense products on site in the United Arab Emirates. Around the same time, the Saab Globaleye plane premiered with the United Arab Emirates flag on its tail wing.
As recently as last summer, Saab received a new order from the United Arab Emirates for more equipment for Globaleye for SEK 345 million.
Saab does not want to answer SVT Nyheter’s questions about the deals in the United Arab Emirates, but points out that the plan has not yet been delivered.
“Politics should not decide business by business”
In Sweden, it is the Swedish Inspectorate for Strategic Products, ISP, which issues permits for munitions exports, not the government. It is a secret which companies receive permits for different products, but from the statistics it can still be concluded that Saab received an export permit for the plan in 2016. The permits are valid for three years. In order for the authority to revoke already granted permits, major changes, such as an arms embargo, according to the ISP.
If politicians are to be able to stop ongoing business in the same way that neighboring countries work, they will change the rules.
– I do not think that politics should sit and decide business by business on Swedish arms exports, says Kenneth G Forslund (S).