Australia's secret arms deals with nations fighting Yemen's bloody war

(ABC News, Sydney, 13 December 2018) The Australian Government has approved the export of dozens of shipments of military items to Middle Eastern countries embroiled in the bloody Yemen war, a conflict dogged by accusations of war crimes and indiscriminate civilian killings. Australia is exporting to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. FOI documents reveal Canberra is attempting to ramp up Australia's arms exports as part of a new defence strategy. Internal Defence Department documents obtained under Freedom of Information (FOI) and from parliamentary hearings reveal since the beginning of 2016, Canberra has granted at least 37 export permits for military-related items to the United Arab Emirates, and 20 to Saudi Arabia. They are the two countries leading a coalition fighting a war against Houthi rebels in the Middle East's poorest nation, Yemen. Janes defence news service notes "The Australian government announced on 17 December that it will provide state credit to support two local companies' efforts to export radars systems and patrol boats... this being the first time that the export credit system - officially termed the 'Defence Export Facility' - has been utilised after being established earlier this year. A major milestone has been reached on Australia's journey to become a top 10 global defence exporter, said a government statement." Australian Defense News notes that "There has been a 48% increase in defence export applications received in the first quarter of FY 2018/19 over the whole of the last financial year."