Parties demand sanctions against Saudi Arabia
The political pressure to withdraw the oil fund from Saudi Arabia is increasing. Several parties also require a stop in Norwegian exports of military equipment to the regime.
The Norwegian Pension Fund (aka the oil fund) has increased its investments in Saudi Arabia by 75 per cent since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman took over as the de facto ruler, from NOK 3.9 billion in 2016 to just over 6.8 billion (USD 831.5 million) at the beginning of 2018.
A Senior Adviser in Amnesty International, Ina Tin, believes it is high time to perform a full assessment of Norway’s relationship to the totalitarian regime, including the oil fund’s investments and exports of military equipment to it.
She refers to Saudi Arabia’s massive bombing of neighbouring Yemen, persistent violation of human rights and finally, the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
– We support Amnesty International’s demand for a review of the investments Norway has in Saudi Arabia through the oil fund, says Socialists (SV) Leader Audun Lysbakken to NTB.
The leader of the Christian Democrats (KrF), Knut Arild Hareide, also believes that the oil fund’s investments in Saudi Arabia should be reassessed.
– We believe that the EU and Norway should impose sanctions against Saudi Arabia, and it will also be appropriate to consider exclusion by the oil fund, Hareide tells NTB.
Member of Parliament, Abid Raja (Liberals), also believes that Norway must consider withdrawing the oil fund from Saudi Arabia.
– I think you must use a torch and magnifying glass to find Norwegians who thinks it is defendable to earn money for the Norwegian pension fund through investments in Saudi Arabia when they realise what they are up to, Raja informs NTB.
Labour’s (Ap) leader in the Foreign and Defense Committee, Anniken Huitfeldt, disagrees.
– The Management of the oil fund should be based on ethical guidelines, but my immediate reaction is that exclusion should be applied to individual companies rather than the originating country, she tells NTB.
Warning lamps should flash
The Khashoggi assassination should, however, ought to make the warning lights flash in the Norwegian Foreign Ministry (UD), with regard to exports of military equipment, Huitfeldt believes.
– The Minister of Foreign Affairs has previously stated that the threshold is low to refuse licenses for exports of so-called B material (military equipment that is not weapons) to Saudi Arabia. The Khashoggi case should indicate that the threshold for rejection is lowered, even more, she continues.
Both the Green Party (MDG) and Red (Rødt) believe that such investments must be banned and that Norway must quit exporting military equipment to Saudi Arabia and other dictatorships involved in armed conflicts.
Leader in Red, Bjørnar Moxnes, believes that Prime Minister Erna Solberg (Conservatives) and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ine Eriksen Søreide, often use rhetoric about human rights and international law to discern its increasingly US obedient security and foreign policy.
Norway has never sold weapons or ammunition to Saudi Arabia, states Secretary of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Audun Halvorsen (Conservatives).
– We make thorough and individual assessments of all applications for the sale of other defence materials. We will refuse a license if we consider that there is an unacceptable risk that the equipment in question may be used for internal repression or that there is a risk of violations of fundamental human rights, he says to NTB.
Halvorsen does not want to comment on the oil fund’s investments in Saudi Arabia but refers to the Ministry of Finance instead.
The Progress Party’s (Frp) Faction Leader in the Foreign and Defense Committee, Christian Tybring-Gjedde, supports this policy.
– Norway should relate to entered contracts, he informs NTB.
Tybring-Gjedde does not trust Saudi Arabia’s version of Khashoggi’s murder but believes that the oil fund’s investments should be considered continuously and independently of this.
© NTB scanpix / #Norway Today