News Release

Arab Women Leaders Point to Arms Sales as Cause of Insecurity

IMG_4633Bloomberg reports: “Trump Wins Saudi Praise for ‘Turning Point’ After Meeting Prince” about Trump’s meeting yesterday with Mohammed bin Salman, the “31-year-old son of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and his country’s defense minister.”

The following activists from Somalia and Morocco are in the U.S. for a limited time. They came to the U.S. to speak at this year’s session of the Commission on the Status of Women, which just started at the UN. Best to contact in the U.S. via Preeti Mangala Shekar, communications coordinator for the Feminist Alliance for Rights (FAR), which organized their U.S. visit.

HIBAAQ OSMAN, @el_karama

From Somalia, Osman is the founder of Karama, a movement to end violence against women and ensure sustainable, inclusive peace and democracy in the Arab region.

FATIMA OUTALEB

From Morocco, Outaleb is the Middle East and North Africa representative for the Global Network of Women Shelters. She is a member of Karama.

In a statement, FAR notes that Outaleb and Osman “advocate for peace as a result of investments in education, health, transportation and food infrastructure, which are basic goods for a dignified life and form the basis for social and economic stability. ‘Peace is not in our hands,’ Outaleb said, ‘governments know how to make peace, but arms trade and oil is what equates to money.’

“They pointed out that the United Nations already has mechanisms to facilitate peace negotiations, such as Security Resolution (SR) 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, which has the potential to create and sustain peace, yet it is too often underutilized or not properly executed by member states.”

In “UN: World facing greatest humanitarian crisis since 1945,” the BBC recently reported: “UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien said that more than 20 million people faced the threat of starvation and famine in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and Nigeria.”

For Outaleb and Osman, the current refugee crises are a “direct result of arms trade, destruction and bombing of countries in the region. The massive displacement of people is a result of this violence, so they have no alternative but to flee in desperation from cities that have been destroyed. Despite the urgency of this humanitarian crisis, the United States and European countries, which have a direct role in arms sales and bombing of these countries, refuse to deal with the underlying causes of war and conflict. In the United States, the recent policy issued by the Trump administration is a clear example, which Outlaleb emphasized, ‘let’s be clear, it is not a travel ban, it is a Muslim ban.'”

Osman added: “The Saudis come before other Muslims as the custodians of Mecca and Medina, so you’d think that they would at least use their economic influence on an issue like Trump’s anti-Muslim bigotry. Instead, we see the Saudis buying a lot of weapons from the U.S. …

“A lot of people in Somalia will tell you some don’t want peace because it won’t benefit them. The people paying for wars are rarely the ones in the corridors of power. People are dying for lack of water, medicine and it’s too rarely in the headlines. Intervention is not about helping people to build a country — it’s to kill some enemy or pursue some agenda. Internal to a country like Somalia, you have people fighting to position themselves — it’s not about principles. These violent factions frequently become used by outside powers.

“In Somalia, we had a stable situation with the Islamic Courts Union. It was clearly lacking in democratic principles, but at least it created a secure situation for the public. Then, the U.S. gave the green light for Ethiopia to invade and we’ve been plagued by fighting, terrorism and drone strikes since then. But obviously, we have to take responsibility for our situation — we need to build organizations for a just and peaceful society.”

Background: From Antiwar.com: “Saudi Airstrike Kills 26, Mostly Civilians, in Yemen.”

The British Independent reports: “Donald Trump’s State Department approves Saudi Arabia weapons sales blocked by Barack Obama.”

Defense One recently reported in “Obama’s Final Arms-Export Tally More than Doubles Bush’s” that: “Saudi Arabia has been the largest recipient, reaping prospective deals worth more than $115 billion, according to notices announcing the deals that were sent to Congress for approval.”