Canada is lifting a freeze on arms sales to Saudi Arabia, paving the way to go-ahead with the $10 billion ($14 billion Canadian dollar) deal for armored vehicles stalled on the table for six years now.
On Thursday, Canadian authorities said they found a way to dodge restrictions imposed in November 2018, that prevented the export of General Dynamics Corp-built light armored vehicles (LAVs) to Riyadh. The contract that was signed way back in 2014 with the company’s subsidiary in Canada, has now been renegotiated.
“Under the terms of the renegotiated agreement, Canada can delay or cancel permits without penalty if it discovers Saudi Arabia is not using the vehicles for their stated purpose. Scrutiny of all proposed weapons sales will be boosted,” Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said Thursday.
The weapons export ban came into play after Saudi Arabia’s intervention in the Yemen conflict and the controversial killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The “significant improvements” to the contract would secure thousands of jobs in Canada, the minister noted.
“As we enter a world of deep economic recession, countries - including Canada - will likely be even less willing to give weight to human rights considerations in decisions over arms exports. Basically this is good money and we need it,” said Thomas Juneau, an assistant professor and Middle East expert at the University of Ottawa.