Author Topic: "Swedish arms possibly used in Bahrain"  (Read 1657 times)

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"Swedish arms possibly used in Bahrain"
« on: March 09, 2012, 15:26:06 PM »
"Swedish arms possibly used in Bahrain"

Published: torsdag 08 mars kl 19:04 , Radio Sweden

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.


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Re: "Swedish arms possibly used in Bahrain"
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2012, 15:46:33 PM »
Anger over Sweden's 'secret' Saudi arms plant

Opposition condemns government after broadcaster reveals documents said to show links between Swedish firm and Riyadh.

Last Modified: 07 Mar 2012 18:59

Sweden has been secretly helping Saudi Arabia plan the construction of an arms factory to produce anti-tank missiles, the Swedish national broadcaster has reported.

The Swedish Defence Research Agency (known by its Swedish acronym FOI) has co-operated with Saudi Arabia since 2005, though construction on "Project Simoom" has yet to begin, Swedish Radio reported on Tuesday, citing hundreds of classified documents and interviews with key players.

Denying the existence of the project, Jan-Olof Lind, the FOI director general, told the radio station: "We do not have a project agreement with that country."

While Sweden has sold weapons to Saudi Arabia in the past, classified government documents show that the current project "pushes the boundaries of what is possible for a Swedish authority", the radio reported.

"The fact that an authority such as FOI is involved in the planning of a weapons factory for a government in a dictatorship such as Saudi Arabia is quite unique," the radio said.

Asked specifically if there has been a Project Simoom with Saudi Arabia, Lind replied: "No. And I do not wish to comment on discussions that may or may not have occurred between Sweden and Saudi Arabia. These discussions are classified."

Several former FOI employees, however, have confirmed the existence of the project to Swedish Radio, including Dick Straeng, who said he led the project until 2010.

"If I were to contradict your claims I would have to say that the documents you are showing me are fakes, and they are not," he said when presented with the classified material.

He said the Swedish government was fully aware of the plans.

"Here is a document that the director general signed and sent to the ministry," he said.

The defence ministry refused to comment on the radio's report because of the classified nature of the project.

"I can't comment on the co-operation," Haakan Jevrell, the state secretary, told the radio.

Shell company

The radio station claimed that FOI set up a shell company in order to avoid any direct links between itself and the Saudi government.

"FOI has, as far as the defence ministry knows, no collaboration with the company mentioned in the radio report," Sten Tolgfors, the Swedish defence minister, wrote on his blog.

"There are no government decisions giving FOI a mandate to build a factory for weapons production," he added.

Fredrick Reinfeldt, the Swedish prime minister, addressed the issue only briefly on Tuesday.

"The government is responsible for ensuring that legislation and regulations are in place and followed, and I presume that the responsible authorities have respected the law," he told news agency TT.

The co-operation deal with Saudi Arabia was struck in 2005 when the centre-left Social Democrats were in power, but was renewed in 2010 by the current government, the radio report said.

Opposition uproar

The co-head of Sweden's opposition Greens Party has demanded an investigation take place into the reported deal.

Tolgfors, the defence minister, has been reported to the parliament's KU committee, which scrutinises ministers' handling of government affairs.

"KU must examine whether the defence minister's actions are in line with Sweden's democratic ideals and international commitments," Gustav Fridolin said in a statement.

He said a Swedish collaboration with Saudi Arabia would not be beneficial for democracy in the world or Swedish interests.

"Sweden should not ruin its good reputation by supporting the militaries of dictatorships," he said.

Another opposition party, the Left Party, has called for a special parliamentary debate.

Deputy Prime Minister Jan Bjorklund, who is head of the second largest ruling party, the Liberals, in the centre-right coalition government, said he had been against the co-operation deal with Saudi Arabia under which such a plant would fall.

"Sweden should be able to export military goods to democracies, not to dictatorships," he told reporters.

Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, a member of the largest coalition party, the Moderates, told public radio that he supported continuing co-operation with Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia is Sweden's largest trading partner in the Middle East


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Re: "Swedish arms possibly used in Bahrain"
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2012, 20:17:19 PM »
Reinfeldt approved Saudi arms factory: report

Published: 9 Mar 12

Sweden's prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt approved plans to build an arms factory in Saudi Arabia, revealed Sveriges Radio (SR) on Friday.

News of Sweden's participation in the arms factory build broke earlier this week, as information from the classified 'Simoom' project was made public.

On Friday, The Local reported that defense minister Sten Tolgfors, although having previously denied this, turned out to have been aware of the factory, according to reports in newspaper Svenska Dagbladet (SvD).

Now, the latest developments indicate that Sweden's prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt also knew of the deal. SR revealed that Reinfeldt approved the arms factory at a government meeting on 20 November, 2008.

"Fredrik Reinfeldt was present, as chairman, as he usually is," said the Ministry of Defense's secretary to SR .

"Odell, Leijonborg, Larsson, Carlgren, Hägglund, Carlsson, Borg, Malmström, Sabuni, Billström, Tolgfors and Björling were there too."

In other words, as well as prime minister Reinfeldt and defense minister Tolgfors, several representatives from the Liberal Party (Folkpartiet) and the Christian Democrats were present at the meeting.

The decision taken at the meeting on 20 November, 2008 is quoted by SR:

"FOI is authorized to negotiate a project deal, as part of their research deal with the Saudi authority concerned, of their participation as consultants in order for Saudi Arabia to independently be able to create secure use of explosives in the country, using Swedish knowledge and Swedish models, as well as renovating and modifying existing anti-tank weapons."

The Left Party is now prepared to demand defense minister Tolgfors's resignation, according to SvD, and the Greens are demanding that the entire affair be investigated by the Committee on the Constitution (Konstitutionsutskottet)