19 May 2021 | Michael Moore | Email:

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Under the Freedom of Information act it has been revealed that the Australian Government is approving the sale of military weapons and other war products to with Australia approved 103 military export permits to UAE and Saudi to kill women and children and men in the Yemen. This despite protests from the UN which are simply ignored by the Australian Government.

Michelle Fahy investigated Australia’s escalating export trade in weapons with the Saudi dictatorship, in defiance of its international commitments and discovered behind the secrecy that The Defence Department approved local weapons-making companies to export to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The two countries waging war against the Yemen even as the UN was pleading for the rest of the world to stop supplying weapons to these countries.

In” the nearly six years from 1 July 2015 to 31 March 2021, the Defence Department approved 103 permits for munitions exports to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

In the same period, the Department denied just three permit applications to Saudi Arabia and none for the UAE.”

These figures were released last week after a Freedom of Information request.

“The permits cover permanent military exports of munitions. The munitions list includes military specific goods and technology such as weaponry, ammunition, missiles, armoured vehicles, military vessels, as well as military-specific items such as helmets and body armour.”

Significantly the entire arena is shrouded in secrecy with the excuse, ‘commercial in confidence,’ used as a cover to export death to the citizen of the Yemen.

“which is in stark contrast to the increased transparency envisaged by the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). Australia worked hard at the UN to bring the ATT into being and ratified the treaty in 2014.”

One Canberra based company complicit in this death dealing is Canberra-based weapons manufacturer Electro Optic Systems (known as EOS) who, with the blessing of the Government in Canberra, supplies remote weapons systems to be used on the civilians of Yemen.

“supplying its remote weapons systems to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

EOS had announced a significant export contract of $410 million the day after the Turnbull government launched its new exports policy in January 2018. EOS acknowledged the government for its help in landing the deal. At the time, EOS kept secret who the deal was with, claiming that disclosing that information would not be in the national interest. Ironically, the UAE later outed itself as an EOS customer with no apparent concern it was damaging Australia’s national interest.”

They are still doing so. You apparently cannot argue that 410 million dollars is less important than children’s lives according to the Australian Government.

I am sure that most Australians would ask this be stopped. The UN has been pleading to all nations not to supply weapons to the countries waging war on the Yemen.

Australia seems to have a different policy.

According to the UN the war has created the world's worst humanitarian crisis and caused an estimated 233,000 deaths, including 131,000 from indirect causes such as lack of food, health services and infrastructure.

Seems money is more important to the Australian Government.

“Since 2016, the UN has been pleading for all nations to stop supplying weaponry to the countries involved in the Yemen war, which is currently the world’s greatest humanitarian crisis. That same year the UN said, “Since the beginning of this conflict in Yemen, weddings, marketplaces, hospitals, schools – and now mourners at a funeral – have been hit, resulting in massive civilian casualties and zero accountability for those responsible.”

Saudi Arabia and the UAE have led the coalition of Arab countries fighting the Houthis in Yemen. The UN and human rights groups have documented widespread atrocities against civilians as well as the targeting of civilian infrastructure.

No only are the Australian Government responsible for this they earmarked the Middle East as a “priority market” in its 2018 export strategy, publicly pursuing sales with Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

It is known that the Defence Department publishes defined aggregate figures which show that the total value of defence export approvals has increased from about $1.5 billion to about $5 billion since the government’s export push began.

Christopher Pyne was defence industry minister when the exports strategy was launched. He said that Australia wanted to support military exports to countries “like ourself who support the rules-based international order”.

As for Australia’s “strict” export controls, said by Defence to take full account of Australia’s international obligations, such controls have not stopped the approval of a single arms export permit to the UAE for the duration of the Yemen war, and have only denied three permits to Saudi Arabia. There have been 80 permits approved for the UAE and 23 for Saudi Arabia.

Defence’s written response: It is important to note that military equipment might be used in conflicts so, to meet Australia’s international obligations, Defence assesses the risks as to whether it is likely to be used unlawfully in that conflict.”

Therefore, killing civilians is fully approved as an international obligation in the Australian Government eyes.

Some facts and figures. In 2020, the latest UN update said ongoing serious human right violations by parties to the conflict underlined a “complete lack of respect for international law and human life”. For civilians in Yemen, “there is simply no safe place to escape the ravages of the war”.

Permanent export permits issued by Defence Export Control

Those figures speak for themselves.


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