Ottawa reportedly allowed arms exports to Riyadh to ensure low oil prices and strengthen a Western proxy in the region
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has continued to allow controversial military exports to Saudi Arabia, seeing the weapons as helping to ensure low oil prices and a heavily armed Middle Eastern proxy for Western countries , according to a document obtained by online media outlet The Breach.
An analysis by Global Affairs Canada states that Saudi Arabia is the “head guarantor” of affordable oil for Western countries, as well as an important market for Canadian companies, The Breach reported Monday, citing the seven-page document. Canadian weapons are critical to maintaining Riyadh as one “integral and valued security partner,” the report claimed.
The analysis contrasts with Trudeau’s statements suggesting he would like to cancel a $14.8 billion ($10.8 billion) contract to export military vehicles to Saudi Arabia over concerns over the war in Yemen and the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018. Despite anti-Saudi pressure on Canada’s Liberal government, Trudeau chose to renegotiate the car deal rather than cancel it, and lifted the freeze on arms exports to the kingdom .
Arming Saudi Arabia helps provide a “regional stronghold” against Iran, giving the West a proxy power that reduces the need for large Western troop deployments in the Middle East, according to analysis by Global Affairs Canada. Canada, the US and the UK view Saudi Arabia as one “important security and strategic partner”, the document showed.
“Canada and our like-minded partners see the government of Iran as one of the main threats to regional stability, and more broadly, Iran’s opposition to the rules-based international system is seen as a direct threat to stability in the region and beyond. ” according to the analysis.
Saudi Arabia’s armored vehicle deal helped make Canada the second largest arms exporter to the Middle East. A 2020 report from the Canadian government claimed it was “no substantial risk” that weapons from Canada would be used to commit human rights abuses, a claim disputed by Amnesty International.
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Global Affairs Canada’s analysis dates back to 2020. Relations between the US and Saudi Arabia have deteriorated since President Joe Biden took office in January 2021, but Trudeau defended continued arms sales to Riyadh as recently as November last year. It is not clear whether Western attitudes to arms sales will change following Friday’s announcement that Saudi Arabia and Iran had agreed to restore diplomatic ties under a China-brokered deal.
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