The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is an active participant in the war in Yemen and regularly violates international arms embargos. Arms exports to the UAE must be stopped immediately, concludes Dutch peacebuilding NGO PAX in a new report.
Frank Slijper, who researches the arms trade for PAX, says, “Weapons shipped to the UAE don’t sit around – they are being used in conflicts in Yemen and Libya where thousands of civilians have been killed or wounded. Whoever exports weapons to the UAE contributes to these conflicts.”
This small Gulf country has become the third largest weapons importer in the world. Most of these imports are from the United States, followed by France, Russia, Italy and Sweden. The UAE’s role in the war in Yemen is at least as big as that of Saudi Arabia, even though the latter gets most of the attention. UAE vessels are blocking the most important harbour in the north of Yemen, its air force carries out air strikes and Emirati soldiers are fighting on the ground. UAE forces are also linked to secret detention centres in Yemen where detainees are tortured. The war in Yemen has cost more than ten thousand lives, according to the most conservative estimates. At least three million people have fled their homes.
PAX research shows that the UAE systematically violates United Nations arms embargos to Libya, Eritrea and Somalia. The Emirates sent special forces to Libya to train rebels there, took part in bombing raids and recently exported weapons and other military material to one of the parties fighting in Libya’s civil war.
The Netherlands: exception for navy material
Dutch arms export policy in principle forbids arms exports to the UAE. However, an exception is made for navy-related exports. The Dutch should not allow this exception, according to PAX. Researcher Frank Slijper says, “The UAE’s navy is not only active in the blockade of Yemen, but is also conducting attacks from the sea. How can the Dutch government still claim that exports to the UAE are acceptable?”
PAX calls on all countries to cease all arms exports to the UAE, and on the United Nations to better enforce its weapons embargos.