Document reveals why Canada arms Saudi Arabia – media

Ottawa has reportedly permitted weapons exports to Riyadh to ensure low oil prices and bolster a Western proxy in the region

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has continued to allow controversial military exports to Saudi Arabia because it sees the weapons as helping to ensure low oil prices and a heavily armed Middle Eastern proxy for Western nations, according to a document obtained by online media outlet The Breach.

An analysis by Global Affairs Canada argues that Saudi Arabia is the “principal guarantor” of affordable oil for Western countries, as well as an important market for Canadian companies, The Breach reported on Monday, citing the seven-page document. Canadian weapons are crucial to maintaining Riyadh as an “integral and valued security partner,” the report claimed. 

The analysis stands in contrast to Trudeau’s statements suggesting that he would like to cancel a CAN$14.8 billion ($10.8 billion) contract to export military vehicles to Saudi Arabia amid concerns over the war in Yemen and the October 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Despite anti-Saudi pressure on Canada’s Liberal government, Trudeau chose to renegotiate the vehicle deal, rather than cancel it, and lifted a freeze on weapons exports to the kingdom.

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Arming Saudi Arabia helps provide a “regional bulwark” against Iran, giving the West a proxy force that reduces the need for major Western troop deployments in the Middle East, according to the Global Affairs Canada analysis. Canada, the US, and the UK see Saudi Arabia as a “major security and strategic partner,” the document showed.

“Canada and our like-minded partners see the government of Iran as one of the primary threats to regional stability, and more broadly, Iran’s resistance to the rules-based international system is seen as a direct threat to stability in the region and beyond,” the analysis stated.

The armored vehicle deal with Saudi Arabia helped make Canada the second-biggest arms exporter to the Middle East. A 2020 report by the Canadian government asserted that there was “no substantial risk” that weaponry from Canada would be used to commit human rights violations, a claim that was disputed by Amnesty International.

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The Global Affairs Canada analysis dates back to 2020. US-Saudi relations have deteriorated since President Joe Biden took office in January 2021, but Trudeau defended continued arms sales to Riyadh as recently as last November. It’s not clear whether Western views on arms sales will change in the wake of Friday’s announcement that Saudi Arabia and Iran had agreed to restore diplomatic relations under a deal brokered by China.

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