Liberal: stop arms deal with UAE

A prominent Liberal Party MP has called on the government to block an arms deal with the United Arab Emirates, saying the country is a dictatorship.

Birgitta Ohlsson, the Liberals’ foreign affairs spokeswoman, wants to restrict arms exports to dictatorships. The government, of which the Liberals are part, is due to decide whether to participate in military cooperation with the UAE.

Ohlsson, writing in Dagens Nyheter, said she believes the deal should be stopped. She insisted that her stand on the issue would not cause a split in the governing Alliance.

“We are a centre-right Alliance because we have common opinions on the big questions, such as the economy, education and welfare, but there are still differences in some questions, including foreign and security police,” she said to news agency TT.

Ohlsson pointed to a report on democracy and human rights produced by the foreign ministry, which said that the situation in the UAE was serious. The US think-tank Freedom House classes the country as ‘ not free’.

“We in the Liberal Party are warm friends of arm exports as such, but we think it is important that we make a stand over the countries to which we sell. We therefore think that a democracy criteria could be a first step.”

Ohlsson was one of a number of MPs to report Leni Björklund, defence minister in the former Social Democratic government, to the parliamentary committee on the constitution, for permitting military partnership with Saudi Arabia.

“At that point a number of the centre-right parties were critical. We now think it is reasonable to maintain that position,” she said.

Ohlsson said she did not know how she would respond if the government approves a deal with the UAE.