Norway has suspended arms exports to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over concerns that the weapons could be used in the deadly Saudi-led military campaign against Yemen, in which Abu Dhabi has played an active role.
Under the existing circumstances, permits for arms export to the UAE have been temporarily revoked and no new licenses will be issued, the Norwegian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.
So far, there has been no evidence about the use of Norwegian-manufactured weapons in the war on Yemen, but the UAE’s involvement in the military campaign could involve that risk, the ministry noted.
According to Statistics Norway data, Norwegian arms exports to the UAE rose from $5 million in 2015 to $9.7 million in 2016.
Abu Dhabi has served as the key ally of Saudi Arabia in the latter’s military offensive against Yemen which was launched in 2015 to restore the former Riyadh-allied government. Emirati Elite Forces have been fighting on the ground in Yemen since then.
In June 2016, American news website The Daily Beast published an investigation bankrolled by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism NGO, which said militants backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had reportedly kidnapped and tortured hundreds of people in southern Yemen.
The probe said the militants, who would fight under the banner of the Elite Forces, had separated the men away from their homes and brought them to a secret prison compound in southern Yemen, where they were tortured.
Earlier in 2016, the United Nations had likewise reported an increase in forced disappearances in the country’s south.
Local rights activists and the abductees’ families told the investigators that the situation at al-Riyyan Airport – used for incarceration – compared to that of the notorious US-run prisons such as Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and Abu Ghraib in Iraq.
According to various reports, Abu Dhabi holds notable sway in southern Yemen and looks to be trying to expand its leverage there by lending support to southern separatist groups.
At least 13,600 people have been killed since the onset of the Saudi-led war against Yemen in 2015. Much of the Arabian Peninsula country’s infrastructure, including hospitals, schools and factories, has been reduced to rubble.
WARNING THIS PICTURE MAY BE DISTURBING TO SOME PEOPLE
The Saudi-led war has also triggered deadly cholera and diphtheria epidemics nationwide.
According to the World Health Organization’s latest count, the cholera outbreak has killed 2,167 people since the end of April and is suspected to have infected 841,906.
The UN has described the current level of hunger in Yemen as “unprecedented,” emphasizing that 17 million people are now food insecure.