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Hidden in the “small but significant increase,” the paper notes, was a telling bit of detail: sales to Saudi Arabia skyrocketed.
From 1990 to 2001, the Saudi monarchy became Canada’s top buyer of military goods, led by its apparent obsession with armoured vehicles.
But by the 1990s, as the post-Cold War era took shape, Canada was back in the game, albeit in a somewhat reduced capacity, according to the University of Ottawa research paper.
Demand for arms among NATO partners, Canada’s arms export bread and butter, plummeted as European nations reduced military spending in the absence of the Soviet threat. While arms sales to NATO allies still made up the bulk of the export industry, sales to the Middle East increased to 16.5 per cent from a Cold War average of 13.7 per cent.
Immediately following the attacks of 9/11, planned and executed by Saudi nationals, the trade bottomed out.
But since 2011, it has picked up again—precisely at the time when the democratic uprisings of the Arab Spring put the fear in authoritarian regimes in the Middle East.
Up to 2011, the regime had purchased 2,653 of them, catapulting armoured vehicles to the number one spot on Canada’s arms trade list and making the Saudis Canada’s number two customer for military hardware, trailing the U. The logic behind selling arms to an authoritarian monarchy famous for exporting religious militancy and executing critics is difficult to grasp.
Canada has also revived its military assistance program, pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into Afghanistan, Iraq and Ukraine. While Kilford, who was deployed to Afghanistan as deputy defence attache in 2009, credits Canada’s training of the Afghan army for the close military-to-military ties the two countries enjoy, the weaknesses of civilian institutions have cancelled out the successes.
Afghan security forces continue to struggle to bring stability to a country where corruption and a lack of basic services poison the domestic environment. When the Conservatives launched the advise-and-assist mission there in support of Iraq’s Kurds, they focused their attention on a group of fighters linked to the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Interior Ministry.
Indeed, this most recent scandal does not even involve the controversial -billion deal the Liberals inked with the Saudis last year.
That deal, negotiated by the Stephen Harper Conservatives but ultimately approved by the Liberals, involves the sale of an undisclosed number of armoured vehicles, reportedly including the LAV III, one of Canada’s most powerful domestically-produced land-based armaments. In the incident in question the vehicles alleged to have been used to attack dissidents from Saudi Arabia’s Shia minority in the country’s east were the somewhat less imposing Gurkha MPVs, produced by Terradyne Inc., based in Newmarket, Ont.
Canadian diplomats complained to in 2015 that the group, known as the Zeravani, were in practice a politicized militia loyal to the Kurdistan Region’s president, Massoud Barzani, and his political party, the KDP, undermining political stability in a deeply fractured Iraqi Kurdistan.