Pressure has mounted on Canada to cancel its arms deal with Saudi Arabia, worth billions, after images of Canadian-made light armoured vehicles (LAV), which were destroyed by Houthi rebels in Yemen, surfaced.
Rights advocates and critics have been repelling the $15-billion deal between Saudi Arabia and Canada for the advanced model of LAVs. If the images testify the use of Canadian arms in Yemen war by Saudi-led coalition, it would contravene Ottawa’s obligations to abide by the UN Arms Trade Treaty. Critics also believe that these arms could end up in the possession of militant groups operating in Yemen.
According to the recent images and visuals released by Houthi rebels, at least five destroyed LAVs of different models manufactured by General Dynamics Land Systems – Canada, plus other armoured vehicles have been found in the war-torn country.
The footage also show five vandalized Spartan armoured personnel carriers manufactured by the Canadian-owned Streit Group, operating from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Contradictory claims by Houthis and Saudi
Houthi military spokesperson, Brig.-Gen. Yahya Saree, recently claimed the Houthi rebels captured hundreds of Saudi soldiers in Yemen, including commanders and officers of the Saudi military.
The video released by the Houthis, which is still not verified, shows soldiers wearing Saudi military uniforms and other fighters posing as civilians, surrendering to the Iran-backed rebels.
However, Saudi Arabia has rejected the Houthi claims, calling it a “misleading media campaign.”
Canadian arms company maintains silence on footage
Speaking to the Radio Canada International, Doug Wilson-Hodge, spokesman for General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada, said the company will not comment on the footage as of now.
Radio Canada International reached out to the experts, who identified the vehicles in the video and images as Canadian LAV-25s and a Bison armoured personnel carrier based on the LAV-25 platform.
The sources did not confirm whether the vehicles were used by Saudi forces, or were they directed to pro-government Yemeni forces fighting rebels together with Saudi Arabia and UAE.
Canada Violates UN Arms Trade Treaty
In 2016, Daniel Turp, former Bloc Quebecois MP, legally challenged Ottawa to cancel its export deal for the LAVs. He said arms deal with Saudi Arabia breaches Canada’s legal obligations under the UN Arms Trade Treaty, seeing evidence of their use by Saudi, and its ally UAE, in Yemen.
Canada’s Export and Import Permits Act (EIPA) now gives the minister of foreign affairs the right to assess if any arms deal or export is undermining peace and security, or is being used to commit violation of international humanitarian law.