October 14, 2019

Germany backs off arms embargo on Saudi Arabia

The Federal Security Council of Germany on arms export resolutions ratified a new arms supply to Saudi Arabia less than two weeks after easing the ban on the export of military equipment to the world’s largest oil exporter.

Behind the German retreat from the ban came internal and European pressure on Berlin as well as economic considerations of fierce competition for world arms markets.

Economy Minister Peter Altmayer said in a speech to the Bundestag’s economic affairs committee that the deal was related to the semiconductor manufacturing technology of the German company Kamag. The council, which meets secretly and includes Chancellor Angela Merkel and a number of ministers, agreed at its last meeting on nine arms export deals for six countries.

Germany allows arms sales to Arab countries

Germany began to hint at the possibility of reversing weapons sale policies especially to Saudi Arabia following pressure from France, Britain and other European partners to back down from those policies.

The German news agency quoted the minister as saying in the letter that the parts of the trailers that will be produced at the Kamag plant in Germany and will then be transferred to France to complete the manufacture to be the final destination to Saudi Arabia.

Germany imposed an arms embargo on Riyadh in mid-November for allegations of human rights violations following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The resolution raised a question mark on military orders in billions, including a $ 10 billion deal to sell 48 Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets manufactured by British defense company BAE Systems.

“The issue of arms exports is often dealt with in Germany as an internal political issue in particular, while it has serious consequences for our bilateral cooperation in the defense sector, as well as for the promotion of arms exports,” French Ambassador to Germany Anne-Marie Dikot said in a previous report to the Federal Academy for Security Policy. European sovereignty “.

“The unpredictability of German arms export policy applies not only to the countries involved in the Yemen war, but also to India, Indonesia and Niger,” she said. “This reinforces the impression that the German export control regime is not restrictive, Also unpredictable. “

In practice, the German ban prompted companies such as Airbus to exclude German components from some of its products and decided to redesign the C295 military transport aircraft to replace German-made navigation lights, which account for about 4 percent of the aircraft.

Analysts say Germany’s restrictions on arms exports risk Berlin becoming a pariah in the European arms industry, threatening future cooperation in arms development and undermining its efforts to develop a joint European arms industry.

The Franco-German agreement of 1972 provides for consultations on arms exports to prevent a party from banning the exports of the other party. However, differences in public attitudes have put pressure on this compromise over time and a series of new projects have led to calls for reconsideration.

The German arms industry accounts for less than 2 percent of Saudi Arabia’s total imports of arms, but its role in manufacturing components entering other countries’ exports allows it to spoil lucrative European projects.

In addition to the Eurofighter, the German ban on arms sales to Saudi Arabia has disrupted shipments of air-to-air missiles by Meteor, manufactured by MDPA, owned by Airbus, BAE Systems and Leonardo, because the rocket propulsion system and its warheads are made in Germany.

Saudi Arabia is seeking partnerships to develop local defense industry and aims to channel half of its military spending to domestic sources by 2030.

Simultaneously with the lifting of the ban on the supply of German arms to Saudi Arabia, the Council also approved three arms deliveries to the UAE.

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