[Letter from those signed below]
This is the letter our Phoenix-based End the War Coalition delivered this morning to a supervisor at the local General Dynamics Plant in Scottsdale, Arizona. Feel free to modify it and deliver it to the General Dynamics factory near you.
General Dynamics Mission System
8201 E. McDowell Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85257
October 17, 2016
Dear Chief Executive Officer:
We members of the metropolitan Phoenix-based End the War Coalition call on General Dynamics to stop the immoral practice of selling weapons, including tanks and white phosphorus, to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy which is a major exporter of Wahhabism-based terrorism around the world, an abuser of religious minorities, migrants, women, LBGT people and peaceful protestors, has been using these weapons in its war of aggression against Yemen which started in March 2015.
Between March 2015 and 2016, Saudi Arabia massacred over 6,000 people in this war, and at least half of them were civilians. The United Nations has called the humanitarian situation in Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East, a catastrophe. Four out of five Yemenis today rely on humanitarian assistance for their survival. There is no access to essential services such as clean water and electricity, and food prices have soared creating a desperate situation for millions.
We join the 64 members of the House of Representatives who urged the delay in the sale, and Republican Senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee and Democratic Senators Chris Murphy and Al Franken’s joint resolution, blocking General Dynamic’s $1.15 billion sale to Saudi Arabia of 153 Abrams battle tanks and 20 armored recovery equipment (used to recover damaged tanks from the battlefield). On August 10, 2016, the Pentagon notified Congress of this $1.15 billion in weapons sales and stated that “General Dynamics would be the principal contractor for the sale.” The Saudi military is believed to have lost some of its 400-plus Abrams tanks during the fighting in Yemen.
We agree with Senator Ron Paul who wrote, “Selling $1.15 billion in tanks, guns, ammunition, and more to a country with a poor human rights record embroiled in a bitter war is a recipe for disaster and an escalation of an ongoing arms race in the region.” Proceeding with this sale will, as explained by Oxfam America, “signal to the Yemeni people that U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen is unconditional – – no matter how cruel the parties’ methods of warfare or how unwilling they are to make peace.” FN 1
While the Senate voted to allow the deal to move forward in a 71-27 procedural vote, we believe that it is immoral that, as the International Business Times reported, “General Dynamics spent millions of dollars on campaign donations and lobbying ahead of the vote,” and that the day after the crucial vote, “the company’s stock closed higher than ever before: $154.86 a share.” FN 2
Finally, we call on General Dynamics to immediately stop supplying white phosphorus to Saudi Arabia. According to the Washington Post article dated September 19, 2016, entitled “Saudi Arabia appears to be using U.S.-supplied white phosphorus in its war in Yemen,” General Dynamics appears to be the company supplying that white phosphorus. FN 3. The article states:
Saudi Arabia appears to be using U.S.-supplied white phosphorus munitions in its war in Yemen, based on images and videos posted to social media, raising concerns among human rights groups that the highly incendiary material could be used against civilians.
Under U.S. regulation, white phosphorus sold to other countries is to be used only for signaling to other troops and creating smoke screens. When the munition explodes, it releases white phosphorus that automatically ignites in the air and creates a thick white smoke. When used against soldiers or civilians, it can maim and kill by burning to the bone.
It is unclear exactly how the Saudis are using the munitions, but the government has already received widespread condemnation for its indiscriminate bombing in civilian areas since its campaign against rebel forces in Yemen began in 2015.
Images on pro-Saudi Twitter and Instagram accounts show that Saudi forces are using several systems for firing white phosphorus munitions, including tank rounds, mortars, howitzers and rifle grenades.
Footage and images and social media posts showing the munition indicate that it is being used near the Saudi-Yemen border – in Najran province – and around the Yemeni capital, Sanaa.
The most recent footage – posted Sept. 9– shows a U.S-developed M198 155mm Saudi howitzer with the telltale sea-foam green white phosphorus rounds nearby ready to be loaded and fired.
The only company with the rights to sell to the U.S. government the white phosphorus round pictured in the image is General Dynamics Ordnance Tactical Systems, according to Marine Corps Systems Command documents distributed in 2015. The shell’s design is owned by TDA-Armaments of France. Both TDA-Armaments and General Dynamics manufacture the munition, although it is unclear which country manufactured the round pictured. FN3
We call on General Dynamics, a global aerospace and defense multinational corporation company, with a local facility located at 8201 E. McDowell Road, Scottsdale, and its headquarters located in West Falls Church, Virginia, with revenues of $30.8 billion dollars and employing 99,500 employees, to immediately stop these arms sales and develop a plan so that employees working on these weapons can produce items which do not violate basic human rights.
FN 1 http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-saudi-defense-congress-idUSKCN11E2OB; http://www.mintpressnews.com/us-state-department-approves-sale-130-abrams-tanks-day-saudi-led-coalition-restarts-yemen-air-campaign/219338/