Tuesday, October 06, 2020

Canadian arms sales to Turkey and Saudi Arabian are inexcusable

The federal Liberals are making a bit of a song and dance about their belated decision to cancel Canadian export permits for arms sales to Turkey, after they were persuaded that military imaging and target-acquisition equipment made by L3Harris Wescam (a US-owned company based in Burlington, Ontario) and sold to Turkey, was found to have been used against civilian and military targets by Turkey's ally Azerbaijan in their Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Except that they shouldn't have been makinI have written about in the pastg arms sales to Turkey in the first place, which makes Foreign Affairs Minister Fran├žois-Philippe Champagne's blather about "Canada's robust export control regime" sound pretty hollow.

Canada first put an embargo on arms sales to Turkey nearly a year ago, in response to Turkish incursions into northern Syria, and, as a signatory to the international Arms Trade Treaty it is obliged to prevent, detect and stop the diversion of military goods to users other than its intended customers. However, in April of this year, the Canadian government quietly added a loophole to its Turkish arms embargo, on the grounds that it relates to "NATO co-operation programs", which is clearly hogwash in this context.

Another example of Canadian tone-deafness is its insupportable sales of LAVs to Saudi Arabia, now being used in Saudi's dirty war in Yemen, which I have written about in the past.

In today's globalized economy, and with the constantly shifting political loyalties (particularly in the Middle East), surely the safest path is to get out of the arms trade completely. Sure, the country would lose out on a bit of money - military goods are one the most lucrative economic sectors, and each device sold by L3Harris Wescam is valued at over $1 million, for example - but it is dirty money, blood money, and we'd be better off without it. If Canada wants to hold it's head up in polite society (and I don't mean the USA, which has more moral blind-spots than even Canada, but in Europe, Asia, the United Nations in general), it needs to clean up its act. It is already getting an unfortunate reputation as an opportunistic, morally-lax country, and that can only have negative consequences in the long run.

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