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Saudi ship in Antwerp port sparks arms exports concerns

© Belga
© Belga

A Saudi cargo ship stationed in Antwerp’s port has roused concern and prompted local NGOs to denounce the supply of Belgian weapons to the Kingdom, involved in a war in Yemen since 2015.

A report published Thursday by Dutch-speaking organisation Vredesactie identified the cargo ship as Bahri Yanbu and said it belonged to Saudi Arabia’s national shipping company, which plays a central role in the Kingdom’s military supply.

According to local media, two humanitarian organisations on Friday asked Belgian Finance Minister Alexander de Croo and customs director Kristian Vanderwaeren to block the exporting of “any material with an invalid license due to the conflict in Yemen.”

Arms exports licenses are subject to a clause according to which all exports must cease if the receiving country is involved in a conflict.

Licences for Walloon dealers FN Herstal and CMI Defense, along with a third unnamed dealer, are reportedly under an ongoing examination.

In its report, Vredesactie says figures it obtained from the National Bank show that Belgium is still providing arms to Saudi Arabia, adding that in 2018, Belgium exported €184 million worths of arms.

In January, Belgian defence company CMI launched a joint-venture with Saudi Arabia specialised in manufacturing tank components.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times