Amid major humanitarian crisis in Yemen caused largely by the Saudi-led war in the country, Norway has suspended exports of weapons and ammunition to the United Arab Emirates over concerns they could be used in the war in Yemen, the foreign ministry said Wednesday.
The UAE is part of a Saudi-led coalition formed in 2015 to fight the Houthi rebel group that controls most of northern Yemen and the capital Sanaa, in a war that has killed more than 10,000 people and displaced more than 3 million.
While there is currently no evidence that Norwegian-made ammunition has been used in Yemen, there was a rising risk related to the UAE's military involvement there, the Norwegian government explained. Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide said there's "great concern" over the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.
Existing export permits had been temporarily revoked and no new licenses would be issued under the current circumstances, she added.
In 2016, Norwegian exports of weapons and ammunition to the UAE rose to 79 million Norwegian crowns, about US$9.7 million, from 41 million in 2015, Statistics Norway data showed.
Since the start, the war against Yemen has been mostly backed by the UAE and Saudi Arabia’s western allies such as the U.S., and Britain, who continue to provide the rich oil Arab nations with billions of dollars in weapons and military arsenal.
The UAE has been one of the most instrumental forces in the Saudi war against Yemen providing both air and ground support for the coalition which has been accused of war crimes amid targeting of civilians in schools, local markets, wedding parties and even hospitals.
But Abu Dhabi’s violation does not stop there. The small country has also been accused of carrying out widespread torture, similar to that used by the United States in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo.
In June a detailed investigation by the Associated Press showed that the UAE carried out human rights violations through the establishment of 18 secret prisons in liberated provinces, notably Aden and Mukalla.
Some of those who survived what they called “the no-return prisons” told AP of being crammed into shipping containers smeared with faeces, and being tied to a spit like a roast and spun in a circle of fire. The witness said U.S. agents were present at the prisons but were only involved in the interrogation part, while UAE officers carried out the torture.
The United Nations, Amnesty International and other human rights organizations accused the UAE and Saudi Arabia of wars against humanity over their actions in Yemen.