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  • Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan attends the International Defence Exhibition & Conference (IDEX) in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

    Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan attends the International Defence Exhibition & Conference (IDEX) in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. | Photo: Reuters

Published 19 February 2019

Despite concerns of war crimes in the Yemen civil war, a war the UAE is involved in, United States defense contractor Raytheon has secured billions in deals with the country.

The United Arab Emirates Monday awarded Raytheon Co., U.S. defense contractor and weapons manufacturer, a US$1.55 billion contract to supply the Middle Eastern country’s air force with platform systems for launching missiles, a UAE military spokesman said.

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The agreement was signed at the week-long International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) in Abu Dhabi. It came days after Raytheon was awarded a US$3.54 million contract to supply the UAE with 'patriot missiles.'

Weapons sales to the UAE have come under scrutiny over the past year due to the country's involvement in the Yemen war. The civil conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and pushed the country to the brink of starvation, as well as for accusations of war crimes by the UAE and Saudi Arabia, who is heading a coalition in suport of the Yemeni goverment forces. Incidentally, the weapons trade deal comes just as a resolution to end United States complicity in Yemen war nears a Senate vote.

"The ongoing carnage against civilians in Yemen — including at the hands of the Saudi Arabia and UAE-led coalition and the militias it backs—should give serious pause to all states supplying arms," said Patrick Wilcken, arms control and human rights researcher at Amnesty International.

"Emirati forces receive billions of dollars' worth of arms from Western states and others, only to siphon them off to militias in Yemen that answer to no-one and are known to be committing war crimes," he added.

The UAE armed forces signed a total of US$1.96 billion in contracts Monday, including US$1.58 billion with international companies, Brigadier General Mohammed al-Hassani said, speaking to Reuters through a translator. The UAE has signed a total of US$3.27 billion ($12 billion dirhams) in contracts since the IDEX exhibition started Sunday, he said.

On Monday, Lockheed Martin, Germany's Diehl Defense, and Sweden's Saab launched the Falcon air defense weapon system at the IDEX exhibition, developed in response to a UAE request for a replacement for the Hawk system. Talks are underway to sell it to the Gulf state, Scott Arnold, Lockheed Martin's vice-president and deputy head of Integrated Air and Missile Defense said.

Last week, a British parliamentary committee concluded in a report issued Friday that British arms exports to Saudi Arabia violate international humanitarian law and called on the United Kingdom’s government to actively work to end the war in Yemen.

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