The Canadian government is investigating reports that Terradyne Gurkha Armored Vehicles are being used by Saudi Arabia in a violent crackdown on minority Shia dissidents in the eastern part of the country.
It remains to be seen whether the Trudeau government is violating Canada’s weapons export-control rules as photos and videos emerge online of Saudi forces using the tactical vehicles to kill activists.
At least five people have been killed in recent days as Saudi Arabia reportedly uses Canadian equipment to crack down on “minority Shia dissidents” in eastern Saudi Arabia, according to the Guardian.
Sources told the Canadian newspaper, the Globe and Mail, that the vehicles appear to be Gurkha RPVs made in Ontario by Terradyne Armored Vehicles.
“We are looking at these claims very seriously … and have immediately launched a review,” Justin Trudeau told reporters.
Earlier this year, the U.N. accused Saudi Arabia of attempting to forcibly remove residents from the Almosara region without offering adequate resettlement options. This brutal crackdown has seen the death of a two-year old boy. One can only wonder what sort of crime a two-year old committed that merited such an extrajudicial murder.
While Saudi Arabia continues to blame Iran for political unrest within its borders, this blame-game largely undermines genuine political movements calling for a change to Saudi Arabia’s brutal dictatorship.
Related: Saudi Arabia Massacres Its Own People, Media Silent
As explained by Middle East Eye:
“He [political activist Ameen Nemer] also criticised the Saudi obsession with seeing an Iranian hand behind any unrest in the country and accused them of punishing the country’s Shias in order to press a proxy war with Iran, who have also attempted to claim ownership of the Shia struggle for equal rights.
‘If you want to fight Iran, go and fight Iran,’ said Ameen. ‘Leave us alone.’”
After all, Nimr al-Nimr, a Shia cleric executed in January last year, was a “vocal supporter” of mass protests and called for equality for Saudi Arabia’s Shia minority. Nimr’s grand crime, essentially, was opening his mouth and expressing his viewpoint.
Why do Western governments continue to support Saudi Arabia in its bid to brutalize political dissent? And why is the world so sure Bashar al-Assad should stand down in the face of what can only be described as a foreign-backed jihad — but that Saudi Arabia should be provided with arms and military-grade equipment it uses to punish genuine political movements?
Last year, Canada also refused to back down amid criticism of its $12 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, which likely enabled Saudi Arabia to continue its policy of destruction in Yemen.
Consider that arms sales by the U.S. government alone have been enough to prompt warnings from the legal community that the U.S. may, in fact, be classified as a co-belligerent in Saudi Arabia’s vast list of war crimes in Yemen; one doesn’t have to be a lawyer to see that Canada would also attract this criminal liability, as well.
Perhaps Western governments, Canada’s in particular, should reassess their priorities and relationships with dictatorships in the Middle East. If not, these countries would be well-advised to refrain from interfering in other sovereign states considering they do not possess the moral high-ground from which to launch their threats.
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