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Organizations urge Greece to scrap arms-deal with Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is currently leading a coalition of countries waging war in neighbouring Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab region. | wikimedia

A leading global rights organization is urging Greece's government to scrap a controversial arms sale to Saudi Arabia, highlighting that the weapons could be used against civilians in the ongoing war in Yemen.

Amnesty International voiced deep concern yesterday over the proposed deal, saying there was a "real danger" that the artillery shells would be used by the Saudi-led military coalition fighting Houthis in the impoverished country.

Opposition politicians have accused the government, which is currently headed by the leftist Syriza party, of not following the proper procedures for an international agreement, while critics have decried selling weapons to a country engaged in war.

Meanwhile, the deal has also prompted internal objections from a handful of Syriza members, such as legislator Giorgos Kyritsis, who argued that Greece should not sell weapons to Saudi Arabia on political and moral grounds.

Saudi Arabia is currently leading a coalition of countries waging war in neighbouring Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab region.

Legislators from New Democracy, the centre-right opposition party, claim that Defence Minister Panos Kammenos, illegally employed a private broker to negotiate the terms of the agreement with Saudi Arabia, a charge the defence minister denies.

Greek law stipulates that such agreements must be handled by government officials.

New Democracy has previously called for Kammenos to resign over the deal, saying in a statement that "provocative" agreement was executed "without a trace of transparency".

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was expected to address the issue during a parliamentary debate later yesterday.

The US and the UK have supported the Saudi government as it continues to lead a coalition of countries blockading and bombing Yemen.

More than 20 million Yemenis - among them 11 million children - are in urgent need of humanitarian aid, according to UN agencies.