Germany approves new arms exports to Saudi Arabia despite ban since 2018

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Germany’s coalition government has approved new arms export deals to Saudi Arabia, despite the ban imposed as a result of its involvement in the war in Yemen.

According to DW News, Germany’s Economy Minister and Vice Chancellor, Robert Habeck, confirmed in a letter to the German federal parliament that several deals on arms exports had been approved by Chancellor Olaf  Scholz before his trip to Saudi Arabia.

The export licences are part of a joint programme with Italy, Spain and Britain, according to the letter.

Riyadh will be able to purchase equipment and ammunition for Eurofighter and Tornado jets worth €36 million ($35.2 million), reported Der Spiegel.

READ: Saudi women take up shooting after change in gun ownership laws

The European cooperation project will also supply spare parts for the Airbus A330 MRTT worth €2.8 million ($2.73 million).

The decision to approve new arms exports comes after Saudi Arabia criticised Germany’s arms embargo, earlier this year, describing the act as a “very wrong signal.”

The Saudi Foreign Minister, Faisal Bin Farhan, told DPA that the kingdom was “in need of weapons to defend itself against Houthi attacks from neighbouring Yemen.”

“We do not need weapons to be aggressive but, rather, to be able to protect our country and people,” he said, adding that the kingdom had been cooperating with Germany on armament “for a long time”.

In November 2018, the former German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, had halted arms exports to Saudi Arabia. The incumbent government, led by Olaf Scholz, the Social Democratic Party, the Green Party and the Free Democratic Party, recently said they would continue the embargo.

The German government had previously allowed some exceptions for joint NATO projects, under which it had issued export licences to Saudi Arabia.

READ: US State Department approves billions of dollars’ worth of arms sales to Saudi Arabia, UAE

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