German media reported on 29 September that Berlin has approved a number of new weapons export deals with Saudi Arabia, in defiance of a 2018 ban over Riyadh’s brutal war in Yemen. In a letter to the Bundestag, the country’s Economy Minister, Robert Habeck, said that the deals were approved by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz just before his recent visit to Saudi Arabia.
The German export licenses fall under a joint export program with Spain, Italy, and the UK, Habeck’s letter specifies, and will allow Riyadh to buy equipment and ammunition for Eurofighter and Tornado warplanes amounting to around $35 million.Germany, whose arms exports to Saudi Arabia stood at around $1.22 billion in 2012, banned exporting weapons to the kingdom in 2018 as part of a broader ban against countries involved in the war on Yemen, despite some exceptions.
However, a complete ban was enforced the following year after the murder of columnist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi embassy in Istanbul.
This ban initially fell under Germany’s policy of not exporting arms to active war zones, a policy that shifted as a result of NATO pressure on Berlin to send weapons to Ukraine.
The weapons export deals come at a time when Germany is scrambling to boost relations with energy exporting countries, as the country faces a major economic catastrophe after losing access to Russian fuel
Scholz set off on a tour of the Gulf states last month, which began in Saudi Arabia on 24 September, in a bid to diversify Germany’s energy supply.
This mission became ever more urgent since the sabotage attack that targeted the Kremlin’s Nord Stream pipelines this week. The loss of Russian fuel has pushed several German industries to the brink of collapse, and it has also forced Berlin to nationalize one of the nation’s main energy providers to save it from bankruptcy.
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