A US Arms producer, General Dynamics Corp warned Canada against terminating the contract for the sale of armored vehicles to Saudi Arabia.
In a statement on December 17th, General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada warned that cancelling the $15-billion contract would cost billions of dollars in penalties and also hurt its workforce.
“We are continuing to execute our valid and binding contract,” General Dynamics said in the statement. “Were Canada to unilaterally terminate the contract, Canada would incur billions of dollars of liability to General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada. In addition, terminating the contract would have a significant negative impact on our highly skilled employees, our supply chain across Canada, and the Canadian defense sector broadly.”
The decision to possibly terminate arms exports to Saudi Arabia is a result of the Kingdom’s killing of Jamal Khashoggi.
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Saudi Arabia’s explanations for Khashoggi’s death are not credible and there needs to be an independent investigation.
“In the past Canada has suspended existing export permits and that has always been something that we’re prepared to do again as the situation merits,” Freeland said in an interview on December 17th.
In an interview on December 16th, Canadian Prime Minister Just Trudeau said that the Canadian government is “engaged with the export permits to try and see if there is a way of no longer exporting these vehicles to Saudi Arabia.”
And what initially was thought to be a $1-billion deal, actually was a $15-billion contract signed by Stephen Harper, the former Prime Minister. He said that, despite the scope of the deal and the possible repercussions Canada is looking into ways of circumventing them, and that, essentially, punishing the Kingdom should come first.
“The murder of a journalist is absolutely unacceptable and that’s why Canada from the very beginning had been demanding answers and solutions on that,” Trudeau said.
Political opponents, citing the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the Yemen war, insist Trudeau should end the General Dynamics deal, which was negotiated by the previous Conservative government.
Trudeau said that the “difficult” contract was made in a way that “makes it very difficult to suspend or leave the contract.”
“I do not want to leave Canadians holding a billion-dollar bill because we’re trying to move forward on doing the right thing,” Trudeau said in October. “So we’re navigating this very carefully.”
Human rights groups have been issuing letters to Trudeau since 2016, asking him to cancel the controversial arms deal with Saudi Arabia.
“To provide such a large supply of lethal weapons to a regime with such an appalling record of human rights abuses is immoral and unethical. The spirit and letter of both domestic export controls and international law support this view,” said the letter signed by representatives of human rights organisations such as Amnesty International.
The Danish, German, Dutch and Finnish governments have all imposed arms embargoes on Saudi Arabia over the ongoing killing of civilians in Yemen as well as the Khashoggi murder.
Furthermore, the US Senate passing a bill that holds Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the Khashoggi murder and another bill that could potentially stop US support for the Saudi-led coalition’s intervention in Yemen. In response, the Kingdom released a strong-worded statement, warning the senators to “not interfere.”
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia rejects the position expressed recently by the United States Senate, which was based upon unsubstantiated claims and allegations, and contained blatant interferences in the Kingdom’s internal affairs, undermining the Kingdom’s regional and international role.”
Furthermore, the Kingdom condemned the attempts to compromise the “deep strategic, political, economic, and security ties that were built over several decades to serve the interests of both countries and peoples.”
The statement further cites the significant oil exports, and the Kingdom’s supposed part in the fight against ISIS and al-Qaeda.
“The Kingdom appreciates the prudent position taken by the United States Government and its institutions regarding the recent developments, as it realizes that this position by the US Senate sends the wrong messages to all those who want to cause a rift in Saudi-US relationship. The Kingdom hopes that it is not drawn into domestic political debates in the United States of America, to avoid any ramifications on the ties between the two countries that could have significant negative impacts on this important strategic relationship.”
Essentially, despite being angered by the US Senate’s decision, the Kingdom graciously forgives them, since it knows that the Trump administration fully supports absolutely any conduct of Saudi Arabia and Mohammed bin Salman.