The Spanish government announced Monday that it is canceling a deal with Saudi Arabia to supply 400 precision bombs and return 9.2 million Euros paid by Riyadh amidst apprehensions that the bombs could be used to target civilians in the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen.
The attack on August 9 on a bus carrying Yemeni students, which killed 51 people including 40 children, prompted defence minister Margarita Robles to review all arms deals with the Arab kingdom. The bomb sale contract cancelation is said to be the first stage of the revision process, EL Mundo newspaper reported.
Spain is the fourth biggest arms exporter to the Riyadh regime. In one of the most recent contracts, the Spanish state-owned shipbuilder Navantia signed a €1.8-billion deal to sell five small warships to Saudi Arabia.
The deal was signed in April by Saudi Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman after his meeting with his then Spanish counterpart Cospedal in Madrid.
The Spanish defense ministry’s decision to halt the arms deal it had earlier signed with Riyadh would open the door to the possibility that Spain would join countries such as Sweden, Canada, Finland, Norway, Belgium or Germany, which have suspended their arms exports to the Saudi-led coalition.
Amnesty International has cited that between 2015 and 2017, Spain exported 1.2 billion euros worth of military equipment to the coalition waging war in Yemen which includes the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain.
“There is extensive evidence that irresponsible arms flows to the Saudi Arabia-led coalition have resulted in enormous harm to Yemeni civilians. But this has not deterred the USA, the UK and other states, including France, Spain and Italy, from continuing transfers of billions of dollars’ worth of such arms. As well as devastating civilian lives, this makes a mockery of the global Arms Trade Treaty,” a recent report by Amnesty International said.
Saudi Arabia and its allies launched the war on Yemen in March 2015 to reinstall its former Riyadh-allied government. The military aggression has so far killed over 14,000 Yemenis and put millions on the verge of famine. It has also caused a deadly outbreak of cholera.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Abdullah Al-Mouallimi said in New York that legitimate military action was taken on Thursday Aug. 9 when Houthi leaders were targeted in Saada governorate.
Al-Mouallimi was quoted as saying by Saudi Gazzette that the targeted Houthi leaders were responsible for recruiting and training young children and sending them to battlefields. The military action also targeted one of the most prominent weapons trainers and a sniper trainer.