Swiss weapons are being used by Saudi soldiers in the Yemen conflict, according to the SonntagsBlick newspaper. It has backed up its allegations with a photo.
The photograph in questionexternal link purportedly shows Saudi soldiers holding two weapons made in Switzerland, It dates back to late 2017 and was taken in the Saudi Arabia province of Jizan, the newspaper said.external link This is a border area with Yemen. A Saudi-led military coalition is fighting Houthi forces in the country, in a conflict that started in 2015.
The weapons are reported in the article to be assault rifles of the type 552, manufactured by the Schaffhausen company Swiss Arms. According to SonntagsBlick, Swiss rifles are being exchanged on the black market in Yemen. The weapons seem to have come from a delivery originally approved by the Swiss government, it continued.
In 2006, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) gave the green light to the sale of 106 assault rifles of the type 552 to the Saudi marines, a spokesman told the newspaper.
Swiss Arms told SonntagsBlick that it had delivered assault rifles to Saudi Arabia in accordance with the law.
The news comes when the spotlight is being put on Swiss-Saudi relations and exports.
On October 24, the Swiss government said it wanted to re-assess its political relations with Saudi Arabia following the killing of a Saudi dissident, Jamal Khashoggi, in Turkey.
The government says it has asked Swiss armament companies to use restraint in business deals with Saudi Arabia.
Swiss weapons exports to Riyadh were suspended in 2009, but existing contracts for air defence ammunition and spare parts will be honoured, according to Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann.