saudi arabia

"Swedish arms possibly used in Bahrain"

The Swedish Non-Proliferation and Export Controls Agency (ISP) has given the green light to a long list of weapons that different companies want to sell to Saudi Arabia. Two of these types of weapons have been used against demonstrators in Bahrain, according to secret documents that Swedish Radio news has acquired.

Peter Wezeman, a researcher with the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, says that the documents name at least two kinds of arms that were used by the regime in Bahrain to crack down on demonstrators.

"Both systems have been used in Bahrain against demonstrators," says Wezeman, noting that one of the systems was used by Saudi Arabia to support the regime in Bahrain.

While the systems Wezeman describes are parts for two different kinds of combat vehicles, the list, which is posted on Swedish Radio's website, encompasses many other weapons. For example, rocket launchers, recoilless rifles, different kinds of armoured fighting vehicles, and powder for ammunition.

Saudi Arabia has been strongly criticized for having helped the Bahrainian regime violently strike down a democratic uprising.

The general director of ISP, Andreas Ekman Duse, told Swedish Radio news several weeks ago that Saudi Arabia had only bought surveillance equipment from Sweden, and that it had not been used directly as a weapon against the civil population in Bahrain.

The new documents from ISP do not show which weapons have already been exported, but rather which compnaies have gotten the go-ahead to continue with their business plans to sell weapons and other military equipment to Saudi Arabia.

However, Peter Wezeman believes there is a reason to question the information that Swedish weapons have not been used against the civil population in Bahrain.

"Is that really true? This needs to be discussed ever more thoroughly," he says.