Germany Halts Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia over War Crimes in Yemen
Germany has stopped selling weapons to Saudi Arabia and almost all of its allies waging war on Yemen, in a decision likely to have both an impact on the Riyadh and a domino effect on other Western and non-Western countries exporting arms to Saudi Arabia.
German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said on Friday that the Federal Security Council was no longer issuing export licenses that “are not in accordance with the conclusion of the exploratory talks,” Germany’s official DPA news agency reported.
The official was referring to ongoing negotiations among the German political factions of the Christian Democratic Union, the Christian Social Union, and Social Democrats on the formation of a new coalition government.
A draft paper on arms exports that came out of those talks said “the federal government, with immediate effect, will no longer export arms to countries as long as they are involved in the Yemeni war.”
Around 13,600 people have died since Saudi Arabia started leading a number of its vassal states in an invasion of Yemen in March 2015.
The war, which enlists the participation among others of the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain, Kuwait, Morocco, Sudan, and Senegal, has been reinforced by weapon supplies and logistical support from the United States and the United Kingdom.
Washington signed a $110-billion arms deal with Riyadh last year.
By stopping its own arms sales to Saudi Arabia, European heavyweight Germany may become a model for other Western and non-Western powers already under pressure to end their arms sales to the Riyadh regime. Rights groups have long called for an arms embargo on Saudi Arabia over potential war crimes in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE were among the top recipients of German-made weaponry in 2016.
The DPA report said, “The German public is traditionally wary of arms deals and [Chancellor Angela] Merkel has been pressured to end sales to countries with precarious human rights records.”
The only exception to the German freeze is Jordan, which will be receiving 130 million euros’ (158 million dollars’) worth of military equipment. Jordan hosts a squadron of German Tornado fighter planes and other hardware used by German Armed Forces.
Last month European Union lawmakers overwhelmingly voted in favor of a resolution that called on the bloc to slap an arms embargo on Saudi Arabia. The non-binding resolution condemned attacks against Yemeni civilians as “war crimes,” and slammed EU members for authorizing weapons sales to Saudi Arabia in breach of EU laws on arms export control.
In September 2017 Germany’s Heckler and Koch announced its new policy in its most recent annual report, stating that it will now only sell to “green countries” and those that met Transparency International’s corruption perceptions index as well as the Economist Intelligence Unit’s democracy index. The bans list included Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Malaysia, Indonesia or any African countries.
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*(Image credit of protestors: Alisdare Hickson/ flickr)