Will Norway Inspire The U.S. To Stop Aiding Saudi Arabia In Yemen?

Norway suspends weapon and arms export to the UAE as a part of a “precautionary line.”

Norway has reportedly suspended the exports of all weapons to the United Arab Emirates as a precautionary measure because it doesn’t want them to be used in the war in Yemen.


There is no evidence Norwegian ammunition has been previously used in the conflict but according to Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide, there is “great concern” over the humanitarian crisis amid the civil war where Saudi Arabia keeps bombing Yemen with U.K. and U.S.- made weaponry.

For nearly 1,000 days, since March 19, 2015, the Saudi-led coalition, including the UAE, has been fighting Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen.

More than 10,000 Yemenis have died in the span of two years. Thousands are suffering from mass starvation and nearly 1 million people have contracted cholera.


According to Soreide, Norway has been exporting weapons and ammunition to the UAE for seven years. The decision to suspend the sales was made on Dec. 19.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has decided, as a precautionary measure, to suspend licenses that have already been issued for the export of Category A defense-related products to the UAE”, the ministry explained in a statement. "This means that no arms or ammunition can be exported to the UAE. The armed conflict in Yemen has escalated since autumn 2017, and there are major concerns about the humanitarian situation." 

The weapons, ammunition and other military equipment exported to the UAE in 2016 alone were worth more than 100 million kroner ($12 million), according to NTB, a Norwegian new agency.

The Emirati government has not yet responded to Norway’s announcement.

The decision was “important and the right thing to do,” Line Hegna, of Norway’s chapter of the international aid group Save the Children, said in a statement. “The decision taken by the Norwegian government can act as an example for other exporting nations to act responsibly in the face of repeated violations of international humanitarian law.”

Meanwhile, the United States and the United Kingdom still remain the main arms exporters to Riyadh. In fact, in the last two years, U.K. sales has increased by 457 percent and British government licenses covering aircraft, including Eurofighter jets, have also risen by 70 percent.

“At a time when the U.K. should at least be putting more consideration into what’s being sold they are giving more and more of these licenses,”, according to the co-director of CAAT Campaign Against the Arms Trade.

The U.S. also approved a $1.4 billion military sale to Saudi Arabia just last year, despite calls by human rights groups to not do so, given the human rights atrocities the Gulf kingdom is carrying out against Yemeni civilians.

He also said the U.K. government has been accelerating sales of “equipment being used to commit atrocities in Yemen” and “over the course of this year the situation in Yemen is only getting worse.”

Will the U.S. and U.K. learn from Norway’s stand for peace and follow in its steps?

Banner / Thumbnail : REUTERS, Khaled Abdullah

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