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Saudi tank deal may be dirty, Greens MP says
Photo: DPA

Saudi tank deal may be dirty, Greens MP says

Published: 07 Jul 2011 12:39 GMT+02:00
Updated: 07 Jul 2011 16:32 GMT+02:00

Greens MP Hans-Christian Ströbele has raised the stakes in the political controversy over Germany’s tank sale to Saudi Arabia, suggesting bribe money may be involved in the deal.

Ströbele, a member of the Bundestag’s foreign affairs committee and a former member of the 1999 inquiry into the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) donation scandal, which involved kickbacks on armoured vehicle sales to the Arab kingdom, said similar payments may be part of the latest tank deal.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet security council has reportedly given the green light for the sale of 200 Leopard II tanks to Saudi Arabia, a U-turn on Germany’s two-decade policy of not selling heavy weaponry to the country because of its doubtful human rights record and concerns about Israeli security.

In an interview published Thursday in the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, Ströbele referred to the payment of at least 1 million Deutsche marks as a kickback on the sale of 36 Fuchs armoured personnel carriers that Germany supplied to Saudi Arabia in 1991. The money went into the coffers of the then CDU treasurer Walther Leisler Kiep, he said.

“A large part of this money flowed back to a Saudi Arabian beneficiary as a so-called kickback,” he continued. “We know that this is no rare exception in arms deals to Saudi Arabia. Therefore I assume that very substantial user expenses could have played a role in the current tank deal as well. Although I have no evidence of it.”

Kiep was convicted of perjury over his role in the donations scandal after it emerged he had received undeclared money from Karlheinz Schreiber, who has himself been jailed over the affair.

Opposition parties and even prominent members of Merkel’s own CDU and their ruling coalition partners the Free Democratic Party have expressed outrage of the deal because of Saudi Arabia’s recent role in suppressing the democratic movement in neighbouring Bahrain during the so-called Arab Spring.

Ströbele's Greens said on Thursday they would file a lawsuit against unnamed executives at the tank manufacturer Krauss-Maffei Wegmann in a move to force the German government to shed light on the matter.

A parliamentary whip, Volker Beck, told Süddeutsche Zeitung that the suit was based on suspicion that selling the tanks to Riyadh would violate arms export laws.

Meanwhile, a top Israeli official said he was unaware of the German-Saudi deal but added that he had complete confidence in the German government. The remarks are significant because Israel’s security has been a factor in Germany’s previous refusal to sell heavy weapons to Saudi Arabia and therefore indicates the Jewish state’s changing strategic considerations amid the Arab uprisings.

While a German newspaper said this week that both Israel and the United States had signed off before the final decision was made on June 27, Israeli deputy foreign minister Daniel Ayalon said he did not know of a purchase.

"First let me stress that I am unaware of an upcoming tank deal between Germany and Saudi Arabia," he told the German daily Die Welt. "It is in the nature of such matters that one does not speak about them publicly. But I can assure you that we fully and completely trust Germany's government."

The Local/AFP/djw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

14:13 July 7, 2011 by zeddriver
I think the operative word here is "MAY". But I guess the lack of facts doesn't matter when it come to politics. (that goes for left & right) He even states that he has NO evidence of wrong doing.

If the guy does not like the tank deal. Then say. I don't like this tank deal. And state your reasons why it's a bad deal. But. To just make such a sweeping accusation without evidence. Just makes him look foolish.

Who knows. The sun MAY blow up next week. Then the tank deal would be off.
16:03 July 7, 2011 by catjones
Germany is like any other third world country when it comes to bribes. The foundation of their economic miracle.
16:50 July 7, 2011 by german-guardian
@ catjones

No one asked for your opinion. Germany can do what ever she wants. It is a major super power and it does not have to take orders from anybody.
17:27 July 7, 2011 by IYWMTS
@ catjones:

Could you please stop embarrassing yourself by writing such unqualified comments.

Thank you very much!
18:15 July 7, 2011 by neunElf
Germany a super power?

An economic and industrial power for sure, but a super power?

I don't see it.

But I don't think there is anything wrong about selling tanks to the Saudis. We buy their oil and we pay for it with military hardware, sounds fair to me.
19:22 July 7, 2011 by german-guardian
@ neunElf

Germany is a super power. and in near feature it will become even better. A true creative and smart country like Germany is always destined to become super power. If you are gifted like Germany, you will always build yourself to become superpower. Germany is not a country that imitates other technologies and sustains them. Germany is creative. Her incredible mind creates and invents news things by seconds, and that is a skill nobody has.
20:13 July 7, 2011 by Englishted
Germany is not a super power german-guardian she is a super duper power with some much super duper things going on and with a history of super duper deeds ,and all the super duper inventions like the car and the raw plug and the ..........,and other super duper things .Like being called her and fatherland? and that is a super duper duper skill that nobody else has ,and and things like that.

There now wasn't super fun ?.
00:46 July 8, 2011 by catjones
IYWMTS...grow up and read a few newspapers over a period of time. Not a week goes by without some expose regarding German bribes or business malfeasance. The largest lawsuit was recently awarded to Oracle by a German company called SAP.

german-guardian...there's only one super power left in the world. Anyone who doubts that is delusional. You've been drinking the Kool-Aid for too long.
02:08 July 8, 2011 by vonSchwerin
If he's going to make an accusation like this, he better have some proof. It is irresponsible of a politician to shoot his mouth off and make accusations or insinuations of serious, illegal misconduct if it's all a bluff.
07:43 July 8, 2011 by german-guardian
@ catjones

You live in your dream world right? well wake up!

Germany has always been a superpower and it will even become greater. It is God's chosen destiny. I told you before that we Germans are creative, that means we are not like some lesser nations that imitate other countries' work and sustain it. We Germans create. Are minds are powerful, and so is our body. May God bless Germany and love to all.
10:31 July 8, 2011 by IYWMTS
@ catjones: I'm grown up and I do read a few newspapers/online newspapers over a period of time.

There are a lot of things that should not have been done, yes - but that does not justify you to compare Germany to a third world country when it comes to the category you mentioned.

Do I compare the U.S. or Britain, for instance, to a third world country, due to the fact that the U.S. lied to the people about mass destruction weapons in Iraq and the British willingly following the U.S. in that war based on a lie?

Best regards
11:23 July 8, 2011 by DinhoPilot
This "German Guardian" is hilarious...

LOL! God's chosen destiny....

Merkel stands up and says:

"I have a dream that every german will have a wurst and a beer in the hand..."

"... it is God's chosen destiny."

If you want people to take you seriously, write seriously. Super power... in the future, China, India, Russia and Brasil
11:33 July 8, 2011 by IYWMTS
@ DinhoPilot:

Agree: Germany is a so called Great Power, yes - but Germany is not and will never be a Super Power - one reasons for that is that there are simply not enough people in Germany who could form Super Power.

With China and India you are perfectly right - maybe China is already a Super Power. Russia could become a Super Power once again - but with Brasil I'm not sure yet.
11:42 July 8, 2011 by DinhoPilot
I say Brasil because Brasil is gaining weight in the UN. Brasil is expanding its influence into other south america countries and africa as well. Their economy is going to boom more than Germany, and they are starting to have enough brainpower to develop their aerospace and military industry (Embraer has been doing quite well...
15:41 July 8, 2011 by Englishted
@ IYWMTS

Which third world country went to war like that then?

The last war German began they also went to war after a lie ,Poland did not attack a radio station.

Great Britain was a super power in the 1800's she had a empire that was the biggest the world had or has ever seen.With a small population.

Going back in time what about Rome ,small numbers but a great power.

What is the difference between Great and Super ?it is all relative.
16:29 July 8, 2011 by catjones
During the cold war there were two Super Powers. The term was applied to countries with global military (and implied, economic) strength. It's not based on percentage growth nor GDP alone. Sorry, but that's the way it is.
16:42 July 8, 2011 by J844
It is very simple:

If it were for human rights tehn Germany shouldn't be selling - with big disscount included covered by german taxpayers - arms to "human rights world champion Israel. It would be hypocite and incongruent not to sell the tanks to Saudi Arabai based on such weak and unsustainable argument, unless palestinian's human rights are not considered of importance or equal to others.

Regarding if Germany is a super power or not:

Look for a Forbes magazine dated from years ago, there an analysis took place on where each country stand, this in order to find after US which other country is a power, the analysis considered politics, economy, science, global influence, etc.

Do you know which country showed in second place right after US? Well, it was no other than Germany. Look for it, and that was even before the lateste economic crisis and new german economic boom.
17:32 July 8, 2011 by IYWMTS
@ Englishted:

The difference between today and former times is that there are no colonies anymore - or at least most of them have become independent.

One reason why Great Britain was a super power in the 1800's is they exploited the colonies which were occupied by them - as soon as the former British colonies became independet Britain began to lose power.

As most colonies have become independet throughout the years and are now souvereign states there are other aspects considered as a signal that a nation is likely to become a super power.

When you have a look at the so called "potential super powers" you will see that there are five: The European Union, China, Brasil, Russia and India.

Among them China is the country with the smallest population of about 195 million in 2010.

Best regards
18:18 July 8, 2011 by Englishted
@IYWMTS

Another reason was G.B. were the first industrial nation.

On other points you are right (but sometimes it feels like the U.K. is a colony of the U.S.).

Where did you get the population figures?

When I looked at Wikipedia the figures are different although I didn't do Europe as it is a continent as you know.

Interesting comments though.

Also with best regards.
18:28 July 8, 2011 by IYWMTS
Hey Englishted,

unfotunately i mistyped - of course I meant that Brazil has a population of about 195 million, not China.

Concerning the population of Brazil I went to the German wikipedia site "Brasilien".

Best regards again :-)
20:54 July 8, 2011 by Englishted
@DinhoPilot

"This "German Guardian" is hilarious..."

No he is not he is everything freethinking normal caring people should stand up against.

He talks dangerous dribble under the guise of religion.

Racist ,bigoted, small minded ,and those are his good points.

Just a friendly warning.
01:44 July 10, 2011 by Frenemy
I consider myself a German patriot but "German Guardian" is a complete tosser...
22:21 July 14, 2011 by german-guardian
@ Englishted

You call yourslef free thinking, and then bash and spread hate against Germany. and in later articles you promote porn, and again you bring down the value of people religion and a country. I would say your dangerous and you are raicst, and small minded against Germany.
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