SAUDI ARABIA (OBSERVATORY) – Rights groups on Wednesday appealed to the Spanish authorities not to approve a weapons deal Riyadh is expected to make with Madrid during a visit by King Mohammed VI to Spain where King Felipe VI will meet.
A coalition of “weapons under control” organizations, including Amnesty International, Oxfam and Greenpeace, said in a statement that it was asking the Royal Court and the Spanish government not to agree to the signing of a five-cruiser contract by Navantia, To the Saudi army and put an end to arms exports to Saudi Arabia.”
“The sales are illegal under international and Spanish law and condemn the risk of involvement in crimes against international law in Yemen,” the statement said.
The coalition called on the Spanish authorities to “join a growing number of countries such as Germany, Sweden, Norway and Belgium, which have stopped exporting arms to the Saudi alliance,” referring to the Riyadh-led military alliance against the Houthi rebels in Yemen.
According to the Spanish newspaper El Pais, the Saudi Crown Prince’s visit to Spain will be followed by the signing of a two-billion-euro contract under which Riyadh will buy five cruisers from Spain’s Navantia.
During a visit to Madrid, Prince Mohammed will meet Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy at a meeting during which bilateral agreements will be signed, the Spanish government said.
Spanish shipyards, which suffer from a large fiscal deficit, are pinning high hopes on the deal of the five cruisers.
The Spanish government pledged in its draft budget for the year 2018, presented in early April, “to support the necessary procedures so that the Ministry of Defense to manage the programs of weapons for export.”
Spain and Saudi Arabia have close ties with King Juan Carlos, who ruled the country from 1975 to 2014. He was a friend of King Fahd and remains close to his brother King Salman.
Juan Carlos played a crucial role in a Spanish consortium at the end of 2011 for a contract worth 6.7 billion euros to run fast trains in the Saudi desert between Mecca and Medina.
Spain is the world’s seventh largest exporter of conventional arms, with arms exports up 55 percent between 2006-2010 and 2011-2015, according to Brussels-based research and information group on peace and security.