Charities urge Spain not to sell warships to Saudi Arabia as MbS visits

Charities urge Spain not to sell warships to Saudi Arabia as MbS visits
The "Arms Under Control" collective called on Spain to halt its planned military deals with Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, during Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman's official visit to Madrid.
2 min read
11 April, 2018
More than 10,000 have been killed since the Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen [Getty]

A coalition of NGOs urged Spain not to sign off on a planned sale of warships to Saudi Arabia during an upcoming visit to Madrid by the kingdom's crown prince, reports said on Wednesday.

The "Arms Under Control" collective, which includes Amnesty International, Oxfam and Greenpeace denounced plans to resuscitate two-year-old negotiations for the sale of five corvettes during a Thursday meeting between Prince Mohammed bin Salman will meet King Felipe VI and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

The two will come together in “a meeting during which bilateral agreements will be signed," read the Spanish government's agenda, without giving more details.

On Wednesday, the NGOs coalition asked the royal palace and Spanish government "not to promote the signature of Spanish company Navantia's contract to build five corvettes... for the Saudi army and to end arms exports to Saudi Arabia".

It also called on Spain "to join a growing number of countries like Germany, Sweden, Norway or Belgium that have stopped exporting arms to the Saudi coalition" fighting in Yemen, which also includes countries like the United Arab Emirates and Sudan.

The Saudi prince's trip to Spain will come hot on the heels of a three-day official visit to France and after a tour lasting several weeks of the United States, Britain and Egypt, where the self-styled moderniser signed multimillion-dollar deals.

Spain and Saudi Arabia's royal families are very close as King Felipe VI's father Juan Carlos was a close friend of the kingdom's late King Fahd, who reigned from 1982 to 2005, and is close to his brother King Salman.

More than 10,000 Yemenis have been killed and 53,000 wounded since the start of the deadly Saudi-led coalition intervention in Yemen.

Civilian casualties from coalition airstrikes have drawn criticism from rights groups, and in October the United Nations placed the alliance on a "blacklist" for killing and maiming children.

The UN is making a fresh push for peace talks in Yemen, where the coalition acted to support the internationally-recognised government after the Houthis seized the capital in September 2014.

Earlier this month, the UN asked donors for nearly $3 billion to help an estimated 13 million people who urgently need aid in war-ravaged Yemen.

"Yemen is the world's worst humanitarian crisis," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, calling the situation "catastrophic."