The German government has approved just below half a billion euros worth of arms sales to Saudi Arabia so far this year, making the kingdom the second-largest recipient after Algeria, according to an Economy Ministry document seen by dpa.
Berlin approved €416.4 million ($477 million) worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, which is leading an air campaign in Yemen aimed at propping up its authoritarian president, between January 1 and September 30, the ministry said in response to an information request from an opposition lawmaker.
Only Algeria was a bigger recipient of arms from Germany this year, with the government in Berlin approving €741.3 million worth of arms exports to the north African nation in the same period.
Thousands have been killed in the Yemeni conflict, which has devastated the health care system and left the country on the brink of famine. The UN has labelled Yemen the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Saudi Arabia is under fresh scrutiny after the disappearance of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, with Germany’s opposition Greens and the far-right Die Linke renewing their calls for all all-out suspension of arms exports to the kingdom.
The figures released Friday are also relevant because the arms exports to Saudi may violate a coalition agreement signed at the start of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s fourth term.
As insisted upon by the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), the coalition agreement stipulates that the German government is not allowed to approve weapons exports to any country “directly” involved in the war in Yemen.
There is, however, an exemption in the coalition agreement for countries with which Germany made weapons deals prior to Merkel’s fourth term.