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News ID: 92163
Publish Date : 07 July 2021 - 21:44
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ROME (Middle East Eye) – Italy lifted a ban on arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates after previous concerns that weapons sold to the Persian Gulf regimes could be used to kill civilians in Yemen.
Government sources in Italy told Reuters on Tuesday that the decision to loosen restrictions was aimed at easing diplomatic tensions with the two countries.
Earlier this year, Rome halted the sale of thousands of missiles to Saudi Arabia and the UAE as part of its commitment to restoring peace in Yemen and protecting human rights.
But a new foreign ministry directive shown to Reuters said restrictions introduced in 2019 that blocked any sales of arms and equipment that might be used in Yemen will now be lifted.
“All existing authorizations are to be considered valid even without this requirement,” said the brief directive that was signed on Monday.
Export requirements to the Persian Gulf states were tightened two years ago after a public outcry over the Saudi-led war in Yemen, which the United Nations has described as the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.
A source at the Italian foreign ministry said the arms licenses revoked in January, including the sale of some 12,700 missiles, would remain blocked.
Following the January decision to curb arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Abu Dhabi asked Italy to withdraw aircraft and personnel from the Emirates’ al-Minhad air base by 2 July.
Italian media also reported that local companies were worried they would lose civilian contracts in the UAE because of the new restrictions.

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