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Shortly after the Scholz trip: Berlin approves arms exports to Saudi Arabia

Shortly after Scholz trip
Berlin approves arms exports to Saudi Arabia

For the first time since taking office, the traffic light coalition has allowed the delivery of German armaments to Saudi Arabia. This step had already become apparent during a flying visit by the Federal Chancellor to Jeddah. There Scholz had spoken of “well-considered decisions”.

Despite an extensive export ban, the traffic light government has given the go-ahead for the delivery of equipment and ammunition for fighter jets to Saudi Arabia. This emerges from a letter from Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck to the Economic Committee in the Bundestag. The export permits are therefore part of a joint program with Italy, Spain and Great Britain.

For the first time since the beginning of their term in office, the government of the SPD, Greens and FDP is making use of an exemption for the export ban to the highly controversial customer Saudi Arabia. The equipment and ammunition for the Eurofighter and Tornado is worth 36 million euros. As part of a European cooperation project, spare parts for the Airbus A330 MRTT worth 2.8 million euros would also be supplied.

The former federal government largely stopped arms exports to Saudi Arabia, partly because of the kingdom’s involvement in the Yemen war and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. However, the government of the Union and the SPD allowed exceptions for joint projects with alliance partners – and made use of them again and again. Chancellor Olaf Scholz was a guest in Saudi Arabia on Saturday. The country is one of the most important energy exporters worldwide.

Left: Exports are “criminal”

During his visit, Scholz also spoke to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman about the murder of Khashoggi. “We discussed all the questions that revolve around questions of civil and human rights. That’s the way it should be. You can be sure that nothing has remained undiscussed,” said the SPD politician at the weekend in response to a journalist’s question. The federal government had sharply condemned the murder four years ago. She will not “edit” this position either, it said in the run-up to the trip.

After the conversation with the crown prince, Scholz also emphasized the long-standing economic and political relations with the Gulf state. It is “right and important” to talk about the development of the region and “the possibilities of economic relations” on site. When asked about possible arms exports to Saudi Arabia, Scholz referred to the “very strict policy” of the federal government. Based on these rules, “well-considered decisions” would continue to be made.

The left-wing foreign expert Sevim Dagdelen sharply criticized the approvals that have now become known. The chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee called the exports “criminal”. “Obviously all inhibitions about arming authoritarian regimes and feeding wars all over the world have been lost,” said Dagdelen.

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