Outrage over Swedish arms sales to Saudis

Following a report at the weekend that Saab has once again signed a deal to sell equipment to Saudi Arabia, politicians on the left have called for an overhaul of Sweden’s weapons export laws.

Outrage over Swedish arms sales to Saudis

“We’re talking about one of the world’s worst dictatorships. We can’t send weapons to dictatorships that should be buying food instead,” Green Party defence policy spokesperson Peter Rådberg told the TT news agency on Monday.

The comments come after a report published in Jane’s Defence Weekly, one of the world’s foremost publications on the defence industry, revealed Saudi Arabia as the buyer in a 4.5 billion kronor ($669 million) deal for a Saab-produced advanced early warning radar system.

The system, known as the Saab 2000 Airborne Early Warning & Control system, includes Saab 2000 aircraft equipped with the advanced ERIEYE radar system, as well as ground equipment and logistics and support services.

Saab announced the deal last week, but didn’t divulge the name of the client.

According to Jane’s, Saudi Arabia is interested in the Swedish system’s ability to see low and slow-moving flying objects and because it works well over both land and water.

Rådberg was also reacting to statistics published on Monday from the Swedish Agency for Non-Proliferation and Export Controls (Inspektionen för strategiska produkter – ISP) which show that Saudi Arabia received arms shipments from Sweden as recently as August.

Swedish military products were also sent to Saudi Arabia in March, April and May of this year.

The exports in August and March were classified as combat materiel, which can include “missiles, rockets, torpedoes, bombs, etc.”

The opposition Red-Green coalition has long called for a comprehensive review of Sweden’s arms export procedures. Rådberg added that deals like the one between Saab and Saudi Arabia wouldn’t be allowed if the Green Party had the chance to decide on the matter.

Swedish military exports to Saudi Arabia also caused a stir earlier this year following a report that another Saab subsidiary, Saab Bofors Dynamics, sold anti-tank missiles to Saudi Arabia.

While Saab refused to confirm that it was involved in the deal, which was approved in 2002, it has since been sent to the Riksdag committee on the constitution for review.

Revelations about Swedish arms sales to Saudi Arabia also angered Hans Linde, foreign policy spokesperson for the Left Party, who blamed Sweden’s complicated export rules.

“If we had gotten a red-green government we would have introduced legislation which, in my estimation, would have stopped weapons exports to countries like Saudi Arabia,” Linde told TT.

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Kurds demand Sweden take back captured Isis fighters

A top Kurdish commander has called on Sweden to take back Swedish Islamic State fighters captured in Northern Syria and Iraq.

Kurds demand Sweden take back captured Isis fighters
Nasrin Abdullah, General Commander of the YPJ. Photo: Hossein Salmanzadeh/TT
On a visit to Stockholm on Friday, Nasrin Abdullah, General Commander of the YPJ, or Women’s Protection Unit, said that it was Sweden’s responsibility to prosecute and jail its own citizens. 
“Every country must take its responsibility,” she told Sweden’s TT newswire, explaining that if Sweden and other European countries refused to accept the captives, it would be “a big problem” for the Kurds. 
“We don’t actually know what we will do with the prisoners. 
“According to our constitution, they are not allowed to be executed, so they’ll probably have to stay where they are,” she said.
But Sweden’s justice minister Morgan Johansson told TT that Sweden felt it would be better if the terrorist fighters were at least tried in Syria or Iraq. 
“It might be more difficult to carry out an investigation which could lead to a prosecution if the witnesses were all in Syria and Iraq.
“The justice process should, if it is going to be effective, be carried out there,” he said. 
The YPJ is holding roughly 300 foreign Isis fighters from 40 different countries, although Abdullah told TT that she would only give details on the number of Swedish citizens being held once formal negotiations opened with Sweden. 
Abdullah said Kurdish forces were currently trying to open negotiations with Swedish authorities over the captives. But Johansson contradicted her, maintaining that Sweden’s authorities had yet to be contacted by the YPJ about the prisoners.  
“The first thing is for the identity of the individuals to be made clear so we know they really are Swedish citizens,” he said. 
“The second thing is that if they have committed crimes where they are, they should be put in front of a court there, where there is a possibility of investigating them.” 
He denied that Sweden was trying to duck the foreign fighters issue. 
“What I want is for people who have committed crimes to face justice in some way or another,” he said.
“It’s important that we can send the signal that if you go to another country to join a terrorist sect and carry out terrible violent acts, that you risk punishment.” 
He warned that Sweden had yet to criminalise involvement in a terrorist organisation, making it hard to punish Isis fighters solely for their allegiance to the group. 
“Those people have carried out a long list of crimes there, like murder, kidnapping, rape, arson. It’s always more effective to investigate that sort of thing right where it happened.” 
Around ten people with links to Isis returned to Sweden last year after travelling to the terror organization's areas in Syria or Iraq, according to the head of the Swedish security police.