|Swedish Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven met Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, |
Nizar bin Obaid Madani in Riyadh, Saudi. October 2016. Photo courtesy: Aftonbladet.
*Swedish media tends to criticize the Swedish-Saudi relation denouncing Sweden’s desire to be an ally to Saudi and pointing out that it is a dictatorship that lacks any free political life and a country that commits massive human rights violations. But it is time to update that perspective: Saudis’ record in human rights violations have exceeded its borders.
Swedes must also condemn Saudi’s war crimes record in Yemen; this most importantly entails Swedes questioning Sweden-made weapon sold to Saudi used in possible war crimes.
Top Swedish arms dealer Marcus Wallenberg "accompanies" Swedish PM Löfven to Saudi this weekend despite revelations that Saudi armed ISIS.— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) October 21, 2016
In parallel, calls for countries to stop selling weapons to Saudi are raised. The calls include Sweden who had little or nothing to state in condemning the atrocities in Yemen. I became well-aware of Sweden’s indifference when Sana’a funeral attack happened in which 140 people were killed and over 500 were injured by a double-tap airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition earlier this month. Sweden’s foreign minister, Margot Wallström showed no condemnation statement, whatsoever, while she usually rushes to condemn terrorist attacks elsewhere. Seemingly, Sweden’s silence over the Saudis’ war in Yemen is relevant to Sweden’s arms sales to the kingdom.
Last year, Sweden had a strong stance against Saudi over its terrible human rights violations record, then why the silence today? What has changed now? Why the silence over Saudi’s role in the suffering in Yemen? Sweden’s revival of the Saudi-Swedish ties comes as a step into Swedish preparation for its seat on the UN Security Council in the beginning of next year and with that Sweden seems to be willing to compromise & ally itself with the Saudis. Sweden had to re-establish its good relation to the Saudis and gain Saudis’ support in the council.
In that seat, Sweden actually is becoming increasingly relevant to peace in Yemen - it must honor the international laws and exert efforts to ensure peace; which both Saudi is violating in the war in Yemen. However, Sweden’s indifference over the potential use of its weapons in causing the suffering in Yemen undermines Sweden’s future role in ensuring peace. If Sweden doesn’t condemn Saudi war crimes now, then when will it do so?
It is time to refresh our view on the problem with Sweden allying Saudi considering Saudi’s war crimes record in Yemen war and therefore call upon that Sweden suspend any of its arms sales to Saudi- unless, Sweden would like to be on the wrong side of history.
________________________________________________________*This piece was originally published in Swedish in Swedish magazine, Omvarlden on the 1st of November, 2016.