While France assumes its military sales to the Saudi kingdom, our Belgian neighbor wonders.
Belgium is ready to suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia if they are used in conflicts in other countries, the Belgian authorities said Saturday. Respect for arms embargoes will be one of the topics of the EU foreign ministers’ talks on Monday in Brussels.
“As soon as it appears that weapons have not, in fine, been used in the place or in the country for which they were intended, there will indeed be a reaction from the Walloon Region,” said Saturday. Minister President of the region Willy Borsus at RTBF.
“It can go as far as suspending licenses for weapons already granted, because that’s what it’s all about,” he said. In Belgium, the granting of export licenses to manufacturers of weapons or military equipment is a competence of the regional executive (Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels). An investigation published Wednesday by the daily Le Soir revealed that Ryad was using Belgian weapons and technologies for its operations in Yemen.
- Seller of machine guns and rifles
“I think it would be good if we suspend the arms delivery contracts to Saudi Arabia,” Foreign Minister Didier Reynders pleaded in an interview with RTBF, inviting the regions, particularly the Wallonia, to make such a decision. Ryad is one of its main clients in Wallonia, which represents about three quarters of the Belgian arms sector in terms of jobs. The region is the sole shareholder of the manufacturer of machine guns and assault rifles FN Herstal.
“If there is evidence of the use of weapons in an ongoing conflict, such as in Yemen, we must go to these suspensions and I think the Walloon government must do,” said Didier Reynders. The head of diplomacy will bring this debate during the meeting with his counterparts from the EU. He should face his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian.