Alarm as Saudi ship suspected of carrying weapons is set to dock in Spain

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL has indicated that a Saudi ship transporting hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of weapons to fuel the Yemen Civil War has changed its route and will dock at the Port of Bilbao tomorrow (Saturday, February 8).

According to the human rights organisation, the ship named Bahri Yanbu is expected to arrive at the Spanish port at approximately 1pm with a spokesperson stating their “serious concerns that it may be carrying weapons.”

The ship will arrive from a transatlantic cruise where it previously docked in the United States and Canada. It then made its way through several European ports such as Bremerhaven in Germany and Tilbury Docks in the United Kingdom, and after its stop in Spain it will continue its journey on to Saudi Arabia.

In December, Amnesty International Spain and a host of other NGOs who form part of the ‘Arms Under Control’ national campaign protested against the arrival of the Bahri Abha ship to the Port of Sagunto near Valencia. The Spanish government rejected their calls and told the organisation that the ship would load containers bound for the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, failing to disclose its contents.

According to information compiled by Amnesty International, since the beginning of the war in Yemen began in 2015, the Bahri Yanbu has transferred close to $360 million worth of military equipment on 10 voyages from the USA to Saudi Arabia before the current trip.

The Bahri Yanbu at the French port of Cherbourg Credit – LOU BENOIST

Given the secrecy surrounding the contents of the Saudi Arabian state-owned cargo ship, Amnesty International stated that it lacks specific evidence indicating that it is currently carrying arms to Saudi Arabia. However, due to the circumstances of the current voyage and the ship’s history, Amnesty International say there is significant risk and that states are failing to live up to their legal obligations to stop the transfer of illegal weapons.

Belgium, Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Spain and the UK are all states who have signed a global Arms Trade Treaty, but the Trump administration has previously declared that they do not not intend on following its obligations. The treaty prohibits international arms transfers that would be used to commit war crimes, with the EU Common Position on Arms Exports also prohibiting EU member states from allowing arms transfers in such situations as this.

Author badge placeholder
Written by

Isha Sesay