Weapons being shipped knowingly and illegally through Iceland to Saudi Arabia was a hot topic of discussion in Iceland’s parliament yesterday. Left-Green MP Rósa Björk Brynjólfsdóttir called the news “deadly serious” and “utterly opposed” to Iceland’s foreign policy. Iceland’s Foreign Minister has promised government practices will be changed.
As reported, Air Atlanta has made 25 shipments of weapons, including landmines, from eastern Europe to Saudi Arabia via landing in Iceland over the past few years. These weapons are in turn used in conflicts in Yemen and Syria, where they are often inflicted on civilians. These shipments were not only made with the knowledge of the Icelandic government; the Icelandic Transport Authority granted permission for them.
“This matter is deadly serious and utterly opposes both the values of the Left-Green Party that we’ve had from the beginning, and is in direct contradiction with the foreign policy that Iceland has maintained; respect for equality and human rights,” Rósa Björk told Parliament yesterday, Vísir reports. “No, instead an Icelandic airline has been shipping weapons to Saudi Arabia, where they are very likely used in Syria and Yemen. Yemen and Syria have been described as slaughterhouses of the world.”
Minister of Foreign Affairs Guðlaug Þór Þórsson told reporters that his Ministry will thoroughly review their practices.
The shipments are in direct violation of Icelandic law and international agreements that Iceland has signed. This includes the shipment of some 170,000 land mines; especially troubling as while Saudi Arabia is not one of the many signatory countries of the Ottawa Treaty, which bans the use of landmines, Iceland is.
The Left-Greens lead Iceland’s current government, and their platform includes opposition to militarisation and any involvement with it. Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, who is also the chair of the party, told reporters yesterday that the government needs to “review its regulations and practices looking forward. And it is of course important that we show that we are follow these international treaties which we have signed.”