How shady is Saudi Arabia

Arms exports to Saudis in the twilight

The opposition parties in the German Bundestag are storming the cooperation with the Saudi royal family and are increasing their pressure on the federal government to finally initiate a course correction. After 47 people were executed in Saudi Arabia, the Greens and the Left Party demanded an immediate end to all German arms deliveries to the country. Even in the Union, stopping arms exports is apparently no longer a taboo.

The CDU politician Jürgen Hardt from the Foreign Affairs Committee said that any decision on arms deliveries had to be "carefully weighed up". He did not want to rule out anything on this issue on 1st German television. There is no doubt that the position vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia must be fundamentally reconsidered, said Hardt.

The SPD also called for a "review" of relations with the kingdom. "At the moment political interests have to be in the foreground, economic questions have to take second place," said SPD parliamentary group vice Rolf Mützenich to the newspapers of the Funke media group. "I advocate being very cautious and also negative about arms deliveries." Federal Minister of Economics Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) is already following a restrictive line, added Mützenich.

In another interview he had stated that Saudi Arabia was "indispensable" as a partner in conflicts such as Syria or Yemen. But after the mass executions in Riyadh, one must certainly point out that such acts had a "destabilizing" effect.

Strategic partner?

Several representatives of the ruling parties were shocked by the death sentences in Saudi Arabia, but at the same time pointed to the importance of the country as a possible ally with a view to security and stability in the crisis regions.

The Federal Intelligence Service (BND) had already warned months ago of an increasingly confrontational stance on the part of the Saudis and an "impulsive intervention policy" by the royal family. Government spokesman and the Foreign Office had publicly contradicted the critical assessment of the secret service.

And what about human rights?

For the Greens, their chairman, Cem Özdemir, demanded that we finally have to speak clearly to the Saudis in Berlin. It would not be acceptable to fight the terrorists from the "Islamic State" but "to do business with Saudi Arabia". The Greens politician and Bundestag Vice President Claudia Roth told the newspaper "Die Welt" that it had "absolutely nothing" to do with a value-based foreign policy, "paddling a country as a strategic partner and arming it with the heaviest weapons that executes its own population en masse, terrorized "and grant her no civil liberties.

The head of the Left Party, Bernd Riexinger, also demanded in the "Welt" that the federal government must stop "any kind of arms deliveries to Saudi Arabia" if human rights are "more than just a hollow phrase" for them.

In the first half of 2015, the German government approved arms exports worth 3.5 billion euros, including exports to Saudi Arabia worth 178.7 million euros. The federal government had emphasized that no tanks or similar equipment would be delivered there, but components such as chassis for vans.

SC / fab (afp, rtr, ARD)