July 26, 2021

“There is no international embargo in force”


The majority of congressional parliamentary groups – from the PP to United We Can, through ERC and Bildu – have asked the Secretary of State for Commerce, Xiana Méndez, for explanations on Thursday about Everis’ arms contracts with Saudi Arabia revealed recently in an investigation of elDiario.es.


Spanish companies trained Saudi Arabian military personnel at the Army's premises in Zaragoza

Spanish companies trained Saudi Arabian military personnel at the Army’s premises in Zaragoza

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Méndez has defended the sale of arms to the Riyadh regime despite recommendations to suspend them by relevant international organizations. He has also denied that Spanish weapons are used in the Yemen war and has described it as “nonsense” the information in this newspaper in which it was demonstrated how the Executive has hidden in its statistics the export of hundreds of mortars and thousands of projectiles. Despite defending the government’s actions, he has admitted that in the future control over how Spanish weapons exported to Saudi Arabia are used will be improved.

According to Méndez, the control instrument that the Government has put in place to check what is done with Spanish weapons has not yet been used to revoke any contract with Saudi Arabia, although it has announced that the mechanism has been included in the new authorizations and in the future it will serve to better control where this war material ends up.

“How is it possible that after an investigation by elDiario.es weapons made in Spain appear on the Yemen border? ”, EH-Bildu deputy Jon Inarritu asked him. Méndez has responded that he has no record of this and has insisted on defending exports to the Riyadh regime.

“There is no international embargo in force on Saudi Arabia,” Méndez responded on more than one occasion, at the insistence of different groups from around the parliamentary arch, who have reminded him of the information published by elDiario.es. Méndez has insisted that the government complies with the common European position on arms exports despite the fact that the European Parliament has passed different resolutions in which it says that the countries that sell arms to Riyadh are not complying with it.

“Why does the European Parliament say one thing and its report says another?”, Asked the PP deputy Jesús Postigo. “Are you in a position to say here today that the European Parliament is wrong about Spain?” He insisted. “Can you guarantee that all exports are included in the report?”

“How is it possible that Everis, a company chaired by a former Defense Minister, guaranteed in its contract with Saudi Arabia that it would obtain authorization from the Government?” Asked the deputy of United We Can, Roberto Uriarte. Méndez has not yielded a millimeter and has remained in his argument at all times. Many of the questions have been left unanswered.

The Government continues to authorize contracts with Saudi Arabia

According to the report sent by the Secretary of State for Commerce on arms exports and contract authorizations in 2020, last year 26 licenses were granted to export defense material to Riyadh worth 215.3 million euros. The authorizations were made despite the fact that both the UN and the European Parliament have required that no more material be sold to Saudi Arabia due to the risk that it will end up being used in the Yemen war.

Regarding the exports that were made in 2020 to Riyadh, they amounted to 48.2 million euros. Of this amount, 27 million correspond to ammunition and mortar grenades, among other projectiles. 99.9% was destined for the Saudi Armed Forces and the remaining 0.1% for private companies, according to the analysis of the report carried out by the Control Arms campaign.

“The Government must abandon the ostrich policy that it is pursuing and join the growing list of countries that have said ‘Enough’ to the war crimes committed by the Saudis and Emiratis with total impunity in Yemen and have suspended the sale of weapons that they can be used for atrocities in that country, ”said Alberto Estévez, an analyst with the Control Arms campaign formed by Amnesty International, FundiPau, Greenpeace and Oxfam Intermón. “We are aware of the economic implications of suspending these sales, but the Government must stop hiding behind the excuse of employment and consider measures to mitigate the consequences of these suspensions.”

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