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Norwegian military equipment behind the attack in Yemen

All five countries that bomb Yemen have purchased military equipment from Norway. But the majority will not tighten the rules on arms sales.


On Monday, at least 45 civilians fleeing the fighting in Yemen were killed by bombs from Saudi planes. The dead lived in a refugee camp set up by the UN to protect the civilian population in Al Mazrak, in northern Yemen. The planes were probably to bomb a base in the area where there were Houthi soldiers, but instead hit the refugee camp which huser several hundred families. Soon the ground invasion in Yemen may come, which will cause more civilians to die and suffer. "The air raids are becoming more and more intense with each passing night, and now the planes also bomb during the day. Our windows are shaking and our house is shaking. The panic has started to spread among the population," says Nina Aqlan from Sana'a. She is 27 years old and comes from Yemen's capital. Aqlan has a master's degree in development studies and works with UN projects to build up agriculture in Arabia's poorest country. She does not belong to any political faction or organisation, but has strong opinions about the bombing: "Yemen has many challenges, but one thing is certain: This war is not the answer. I have been to peaceful Oslo and Norway. To me, it is very strange that Norway, which is known as a country of peace, has sold military material and ammunition to the countries that are now bombing Yemen. Norway should not continue to contribute to this conflict, which leads to Yemen being more divided than ever," says Nina Aqlan. For one billion. Saudi Arabia leads a coalition of five countries that has bombed Yemen every day and night since March 25 with about 200 aircraft. Norway has sold military equipment to all the countries participating in the Decisive Storm operation: Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. In 2013, Norway sold ammunition for NOK 26 million to the Emirates, and between 2002 and 2012 Norway exported military equipment for NOK 50 million to the powerful, authoritarian Gulf nation. Saudi Arabia bought military equipment from Norway worth NOK 650 million between 2002 and 2012. For Kuwait, the figures are NOK 480 million in the same period. Qatar has been importing military equipment for more than NOK 60 million over the last ten years. In 2011, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, and the Bahraini government bloodied peaceful protesters seeking democratic reforms. These figures appear in the Changemaker report, Reckless arms exports? Exports of Norwegian military equipment to authoritarian regimes 2002–2012 and in the Government's Report to the Storting no. 8 (2014–2015). It is not stated what types of military equipment Norway has sold, but most are categorized as communication equipment. It is also not stated what types of ammunition Norway has sold to the Emirates. May be bloody. Journalist Fras Shams is from Yemen and lives in Sana'a. He is not a member of any grouping or party and writes articles with a liberal profile for freedom of expression in, among other things, the Yemeni online cultural newspaper Saudi Arabia has about 150 troops standing on the border with Yemen, ready for invasion. Egypt, to which Norway has also sold military equipment, has now taken the initiative for a force of 000 men which they will send to invade Yemen. Shams says that even though there are many who do not support the Houthis, they could be strengthened by an invasion: "If Saudi Arabia sends soldiers into Yemen, it will lead to a lot of people who do not really support the Houthis will fight side by side. side with them against Saudi Arabia. It will be seen as a declaration of war against Yemen and will not be well received by the vast majority of the people of Yemen. It will lead to a bloody war that could last a long time, says the journalist. Yemen is a mountainous country and the country in the world where most civilians have weapons, second only to the United States. Fight for power. The background to the conflict in Yemen is to a small extent about religious differences between Shiites and Sunni Muslims. There have not traditionally been significant religious differences in Yemen. The conflicts are more of an internal power struggle combined with a protest against Saudi Arabia's dominance and influence over Yemen, and in addition fears of greater Iranian influence. President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who has fled to Saudi Arabia, was never elected by the people. He was vice president under dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh from 1994 to 2012. Dictator Saleh was overthrown after a popular uprising in which the regime killed at least 250 civilians, according to Human Rights Watch. Hadi was allowed to continue in what was to be a transitional period, and promised to arrange a new presidential election within 90 days, which never happened. A national dialogue conference was launched, which was negotiations between the various tribes and factions. The Houthi group withdrew from the negotiations after two of their representatives were killed. Hadi and his government have received direct military aid and financial support from Saudi Arabia. The Houthis have received weapons from Iran. The Houthis are actively fighting al-Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State, which are active in Yemen. On March 21, IS killed more than 137 Houthi supporters and politicians in a suicide attack on a mosque in Sana'a, according to Al Jazeera. Will not tighten. All the central countries that attack Yemen are equipped with Norwegian military equipment, and this conflict can be long-lasting and very bloody. The Storting has adopted rules for whom Norway can sell military equipment to, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs interprets and administers these rules. The Storting decided on 11 March 1959 that: «The decision shall emphasize the foreign and domestic policy assessments, the main view should be that Norway will not allow the sale of weapons and ammunition to areas where there is war or war threatens, or to countries where it is a civil war. " In 1997, these rules were clarified by a unanimous Storting: "The Ministry of Foreign Affairs' assessment of these matters includes an assessment of a number of political issues, including issues related to democratic rights and respect for fundamental human rights." SV, Krf and Venstre have long worked for stricter rules and for Norway to stop selling military equipment to authoritarian countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the Emirates, Kuwait and Bahrain. On March 26, the recommendation came from the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, which says that the Labor Party, the Conservative Party, the Socialist People's Party and the Green Party will not tighten the rules. Thus, there is still a parliamentary majority for Norway to be able to sell ammunition and military equipment to undemocratic countries. According to Yemeni health authorities, these five countries that have bombed Yemen have killed more than 100 civilians. The UN confirmed on Monday that 45 refugees were killed by Saudi planes – 45 innocent women, men, children and the elderly.

CAUSE The Houthi movement started in the early 1990s as a group that advocated tolerance, peace, openness and moderate religious thinking. It was headquartered in Saada province in northern Yemen. The movement has its origins in Zaidi-Shia Islam, which is very close to Sunni Islam. About 40 percent of the country's population belongs to Zaidi Islam. In the Yemeni context, the Houthis were moderately religious and opposed to the more dogmatic fundamentalist Wahhabism and Salafism of Saudi Arabia. The movement grew rapidly, especially in the north. The Houthis were eventually seen as a threat by President Ali Abduallah Saleh, who ruled Yemen as a dictator for 33 years, until 2011. This is what Ahmed Addaghashi, a professor at the University of Sana'a, writes in his books Houthi Phenomenon and Houthis and Their Political and Military Future. Eventually, several Houthi protesters were arrested by Saleh's regime in the early 2000s. Saleh violently cracked down on the Houthi movement, and several of its members were arrested, tortured and killed. Leader Hussein Bader Addian al-Houthi was killed in 2004, when Saleh sent troops to Saada province to crush the Houthis. Al-Houthi was for a nonviolent line and political reform. Civil War. After the assassination, the Houthis took up arms, and a civil war broke out that lasted until 2010, when a peace agreement was signed. The Houthis joined the demonstrations and the uprising against President Saleh in 2011. The Houthis have both an armed and a political part. The political part has support far into the academic circles in Yemen. They want a free and independent Yemen and have repeatedly stated that they want democratic elections. In 2013 and 2014, a national dialogue conference was launched, which was to end with Yemen receiving a new constitution. At the same time, war broke out between Salafist elements and the Houthis. Two of the Houthi representatives in the national dialogue process were killed. Following the killings, and after it was proposed that Yemen be divided into a federation of six states, the Houthis withdrew from the negotiations. The proposal meant that Saada, where the Houthi headquarters are located, would become part of the capital Sana'a and thus subordinate to Sana'a. The Houthis wanted their own state and did not accept the proposal. IS to Yemen. The Houthi works support or practice the version of Islam that the Iranian regime advocates, but has received weapons and training from the regime in Tehran. Many analysts believe that Iran is trying to take advantage of the situation in Yemen to gain more influence over the country. This is because the Houthis and Iran have a common enemy in Saudi Arabia. The Houthis conquered the capital Sana'a militarily in August 2014. In January 2014, they took over the presidential palace and placed President Hadi under house arrest, as they believed he had, among other things, sent weapons to al-Qaeda. President Hadi fled to Aden in the south. After the so-called Islamic State killed 137 Houthis in a suicide attack on a mosque, the Houthis attacked Aden to arrest the president. They believed Hadi, with the support of Saudi Arabia, was behind this attack. IS did not exist in Yemen until 2015.

Øystein Windstad
Øystein Windstad
Former journalist at Ny Tid.

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