MEP Jordi Solé condemns Spain’s training of Saudi soldiers to fight in Yemen

The European Union’s Common Position on Arms Exports is clear: member states cannot sell arms to countries at war. However, between 2018 and 2019, two Spanish private companies, Everis and NTGS, trained Saudi soldiers who later took part in the war in Yemen. Spanish online newspaper reported the training was carried out at a Spanish army camp in Saragossa, Spain. Once trained in the use of weapons that the companies involved had sold to the Saudi Interior Ministry, the Saudi Border Guard soldiers were deployed to the Yemeni border to take part in the conflict, which according to the United Nations, has already caused more than 233,000 deaths and in which the Saudi-led coalition has committed numerous war crimes.

“It is shameful that Spain should circumvent EU regulations on arms exports. This case of training at a Spanish military base of Saudi soldiers who later took part in the war in Yemen is especially serious because the common European position on the control of arms export – which is legally binding – prohibits the sale of weapons to countries at war, and Spain stands out alongside top traders France and the United Kingdom for continuing to sell huge quantities of weapons and military equipment to Saudi Arabia,” decried Esquerra Republicana MEP Jordi Solé.

While several EU member states have now imposed arms embargoes on Saudi Arabia, Spain has continued to sell weapons and offer military training. For this reason, Mr Solé has reported to the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell that Spain is not complying with EU regulations on the export of weapons, and has asked him to act regarding Spain’s infringement of the Common Position.

Alluding to the Spanish Prime Minister’s own self-styling of his executive, Mr Solé added that “the most progressive government in history should be braver and put an end to this scandalous complicity with the military industry, and tear up contracts with countries that are at war, that commit atrocities against civilians, and that internally discriminate against women and minorities, persecute dissent and repress rights and freedoms.”

The parliamentary question posed by Mr Solé was supported by Greens/EFA group MEPs whose work focuses on human rights, security and defence issues, Alviina Alametsä, Heidi Hautala, Pierrette Hersberger-Fofana, Katrin Langensiepen, Diana Riba, Mounir Satouri, Ernest Urtasun and Salima Yenbou.