Despite growing concern over the scale of human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia under the country’s crown prince and prime minister, Mohammed bin Salman, both the German federal police service and the US military have been involved in training Saudi border forces implicated by the UN and human rights NGOs in mass killings.
Significantly, the US training agreement – the funding for which ended last month – stipulated that the US was required to monitor how its training was being used, with those receiving training only allowed to operate defensively, to protect themselves and their sites from an attack.
The scale of the abuses was revealed by Human Rights Watch in a shocking report earlier this month. It alleged that Saudi border forces had used explosive weapons to target mainly Ethiopian migrants and asylum seekers attempting to cross the border from Yemen, claims that have been denied by Saudi Arabia.
Amid growing outcry over the claims, the Guardian has also been told that Saudi Arabia has increasingly treated illegal incursions across its borders as a counter-terrorism issue, authorising the use of lethal force.
The Guardian has also been told that Saudi Arabia employs extensive and centrally monitored electronic surveillance of the border area meaning it should be able to distinguish groups of trafficked civilians from those involved in armed incursions from Yemen or drug smuggling.
The disclosures elevate the question of whether Riyadh has been deliberately targeting migrants trying to cross the border, which Human Rights Watch has suggested would amount to a “crime against humanity” if it was established to be official policy.
The Guardian has established that the US military’s training of Saudi forces, including border forces, has been part of a long running military support programme known as MOI-MAG (Ministry of Interior-Military Assistance Group) with US involvement in training border forces beginning in 2008.
The agreement to train Saudi border forces required the Pentagon to draw up a unique technical cooperation agreement to allow US forces to train a non-military force for the first time, requiring the monitoring of the use to which US trained units were being put by the Saudis.
Confirming the long-running US training of Saudi border forces, a US official told the Guardian: “The US army Security Assistance Command provided border guards training, which had been funded for a period from 2015-2023, with the funding period ending in July of this year.”
The official did not explain why the funding had ended.
For its part, the German training of Saudi border forces was undertaken by the federal police.
Beginning in 2009, the programme continued well into 2020, with a brief interruption after the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Turkey.
Source: The Guardian#US #Khashoggi #Germany #Saudi Arabia 23-09-01
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