South Africa Blocks Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates

CAPE TOWN – South Africa is blocking arms sales to a number of countries, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. This happened because of an inspection dispute that endangered billions of dollars in businesses and thousands of jobs in the arms industry.

The cessation is related to the existence of a clause in the export document that requires foreign customers to promise not to transfer weapons to third parties. In addition, South African officials have the right to inspect their facilities to verify compliance.

Reported by Reuters on Monday (25/11/2019), Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which accounted for at least one third of South Africa’s arms exports and were involved in the war in Yemen, rejecting inspections which they considered violated their sovereignty, according to the Reuters source.

Oman and Algeria also rejected the inspection, so weapons imports from South Africa were blocked, the industry official added.

Government officials from the four countries have not responded to emails and phone calls from Reuters for comment, as have their embassies in South Africa.

Asked about the issue of inspection clauses, Director of Conventional Weapons Control at the South African Ministry of Defense Ezra Jele said the government considered several clauses when evaluating arms export licenses, including issues of human rights, regional conflicts, risk of diversion, resolution of the UN Security Council and national interests .

The South African Aerospace, Maritime and Defense Industry Association (AMD) said the dispute could threaten the survival of the sector.

“We have a clause that is crippling our exports worth 25 billion rand (1.7 billion US dollars) at the moment,” AMD Chief Simphiwe Hamilton told Reuters.

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The industry body estimates that blocking exports could cause the loss of up to 9,000 jobs in defense companies and supporting industries.