Germany extends Saudi arms export freeze till end of March
Germany on 6 March 2019 extended a temporary, disputed ban on arms exports to Saudi Arabia, but only until the end of the month.
In October, Berlin froze sales of military equipment to countries involved in the Yemen conflict following the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. It has since faced protests by EU partners because the ban, originally imposed until March 9, has impacted joint defence projects such as the Eurofighter and Tornado jets.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Wednesday that the export ban had been extended by three weeks until the end of March. ‘We decided this with a view to developments in Yemen,’ he said after a meeting of Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet. ‘We believe that the Yemen war must end as soon as possible.’
About 10,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the Yemen war since March 2015, though rights groups say the death toll is much higher.
Germany has a troubled relationship with foreign arms sales. Polls show that around two thirds of German citizens reject weapons exports. Merkel's government has faced political pressure at home over weapons sales, which include Leopard tanks used by Turkey to fight Kurdish militias.
But it has also faced increasing protests from European partners including France and Britain over the issue. French President Emmanuel Macron last year dismissed Germany's call for other countries to join in an export freeze to Saudi Arabia, saying it was ‘pure demagoguery to call for a halt’.
And British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt last month voiced ‘deep concern’ that Berlin's stance damaged Europe's defence industry and its ‘ability to meet its NATO commitments’, in a letter to Maas reported on by Spiegel Online.
Despite all the agonising, Germany is among the world's top arms exporters, a group led by the US that also includes Russia, China, France and Britain.
Merkel's governments have approved tens of billions of euros worth of arms exports, including to nations outside EU and NATO that are accused of human rights abuses or are engaged in conflicts.
More from Defence Notes
How the Chinese balloon incident will impact future US air threat detection
Although the Pentagon claims that current systems can detect this type of threat, it has confirmed that measures will be taken in order to maintain the US's edge over its adversaries.
UK and France target 2030 for future cruise missile, seek commonality on future fighter weapons
The UK and France aim to deliver a new cruise missile in 2030 as part of the MBDA-led Future Cruise/Anti-Ship Weapon (FC/ASW) project.
China's multi-domain warfare concept could outpace US JADC2, warns ex-general
China's Multi-Domain Precision Warfare project is aiming to disrupt US networks, and could outpace the Joint All-Domain Command and Control initiative. A retired US Army general explains what the Pentagon is doing about it.
How artificial intelligence can threaten military readiness
Although AI provides several operational benefits in the defence arena, it can also put armed forces in risky situations.