South Africa Bans On Arms Export To Arab Countries Hurting Its Economy

The members of the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) decide to suspend arms exports to many Arab countries, mainly Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Algeria.

This body, which depends on the South African parliament and which grants export licenses to local arms and military technology companies, decided on November 22 to suspend arms exports to Saudi Arabia and the Arab Emirates. United, the cause being a contractual clause allowing the organization to carry out unannounced inspections at the customer’s premises to ensure that there has not been any re-export to a third party or an attempted local copy of the technology South African.

South Africa is blocking arms sales to countries including Saudi Arabia and the UAE in an inspections dispute, endangering billions of dollars of business and thousands of jobs in its struggling defense sector, according to industry officials.

The dispute centers on a clause in export documents that requires foreign customers to pledge not to transfer weapons to third parties and to allow South African officials to inspect their facilities to verify compliance, according to the four officials as well as letters obtained by Reuters.

Officials from several major South African armaments groups, including the semi-public Denel consortium, and Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) yesterday told Reuters that the refusal of the two Arab countries to apply this clause has prompted a systematic denial of licenses. exports since March 2019.

A third large private group, probably Paramount, also reported difficulties in exporting to the region which represents the largest volume of exports for the South African arms industry.

South African arms export to the Gulf nations. Source Reuters.

Saudi Arabia and the Emirates account for a third of the volume of arms exports from Pretoria. Riyadh, in the midst of the war in Yemen, depends greatly on the ammunition supply of South Africa. The Emirates, on the other hand, have been a breath of fresh air for research and development for South African companies by funding numerous projects on the drawers for years and by integrating South African private and public companies into the nascent military-industrial complex. in the Emirates.

South African arms export to the Gulf nations. Source Reuters.

For example, all the missiles produced in the Emirates are based on South African technologies, the same goes for armored vehicles in the region which are the result of South African experience in this area.

This decision will heavily impact the UAE defense industry and the various projects linking companies like Nimr and Tawazun which manufacture many systems and armored vehicles in common. As well as Saudi projects in the field of military manufacturing. On November 8, the Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI), put on the table a billion dollars to take 49% of Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM), manufacturer of shells and ammunition of small and medium caliber and make a transfer production to Saudi Arabia.

A week later, Denel officials were accused of leaking confidential information to Saudi Arabia by being recruited by SAMI. These revelations had provoked the ire of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who had instructed the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), to investigate what the president called a “major security breach against the Republic”.

Contacted by us, Darren Olivier, defense and security specialist in South Africa commented on this decision as being to be reconsidered by his authorities. “If it is necessary for South Africa to put in place mechanisms to prevent the diversion of exported arms for the benefit of third parties, both because of its national laws and the ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty , it is not clear that the application of a strict no-on-site notification requirement must require inspection of a client’s military sites to achieve this goal, and few, if any, countries would be willing. to grant this level of access to their most secure and strategic sites to South African inspectors whom they could not control. It’s a problem, but it is something that can just as easily be controlled by other methods of confidence-building and by denying future exports to any country that has been proven to have illegally re-exported arms or had used them in any other way in violation of agreed agreements. South Africa needs to rethink this provision. ”

According to South African Reuters sources, Oman and Algeria have also seen their arms imports suspended after they failed to respond to requests for inspection from the NCACC.

Algeria was a major buyer of South African military equipment during the 1990s and until the change of Chief of Staff. The previous one, Mohamed Lamari had a special personal relationship with Nelson Mandela, of whom he was the military instructor in 1962, this friendship led to a defense agreement signed in the early 2000s and great cooperation.

Today, the purchases of South African weapons by Algeria are limited to the missiles which equip the helicopters, the anti-aircraft missiles which are on the Meko frigates and some guided bombs.

Sometimes Algeria uses South African technologies through other countries such as the Emirates or Ukraine, as was the case for the renovation of the Algerian Mi 24 MKIII helicopters which took place in Ukraine three years ago. years but which had involved South African engineers and equipment from that country.

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