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German arms find way to Saudi Arabia despite defence export ban

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German arms shipments have been able to make their way to Saudi Arabia with the Berlin government’s blessing, despite a ban on defence exports due to the Gulf state’s poor human rights record and role in the Yemen war.

Last year, the German government gave permission to France in two cases to export German-produced defence goods with a total value of €4.87 million ($5.69 million) to Saudi Arabia, the Economy Ministry said, replying to a request for information from hard-left party Die Linke.

In 2020, a similar delivery was made from South Korea, according to the ministry’s reply, which was seen by dpa.

The ministry said that the German government also made it possible for parts for Eurofighter and Tornado fighter jets to be sent to Saudi Arabia in 2019 and 2020 via three so-called collective export licences. Both aircraft are European joint ventures.

Saudi Arabia is leading an alliance of Arab nations fighting against Houthi rebels in Yemen, who are supported by Iran. The war has caused one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters.

On forming a coalition government in March 2018, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and the Social Democrats agreed to “immediately” halt all defence exports to countries involved in the Yemen conflict.

An arms export ban targeting Saudi Arabia specifically was passed in November 2018 after dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. It has since been extended three times, and is currently to stay in place until the end of this year.

In March this year, the moratorium was softened to allow the delivery of defence equipment produced in joint ventures with Germany’s partners.

Source: dpa

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