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Merkel under fire for Saudi tank deal

The Local · 5 Jul 2011, 11:43

Published: 05 Jul 2011 11:43 GMT+02:00

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News agency Reuters reported that most of the parliamentary leadership of Chancellor Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) raised objections to the sale at a meeting on Monday. The environmentalist Greens planned to raise the issue in the Bundestag on Tuesday.

News magazine Der Spiegel reported at the weekend that the German government had given the green light to the sale of Leopard 2 battle tanks, which would reap more than €1 billion for the country’s arms industry but reverse its long-held policy not to supply heavy weaponry to the Arab kingdom.

Reuters reported that key members of the party’s parliamentary group raised vocal concerns, including the chairman of the foreign affairs committee, Ruprecht Polenz, Bundestag president Norbert Lammert and the party’s human rights expert Erika Steinbach.

They argued that breaches of human rights by Saudi Arabia raised questions about the sale. Lammert pointed out Saudi Arabia had recently deployed tanks to help suppress the anti-government protests in neighbouring Bahrain.

Concerns about Israel's safety have also been expressed.

The Greens’ parliamentary leader, Jürgen Trittin, said the supply of tanks to the autocratic regime would breach the tradition of Germany’s Middle East policy.

“Such equipment is not usually supplied to such areas,” Trittin told public broadcaster ARD on Tuesday morning.

Saudi Arabia had only recently been involved in “steamrolling” the pro-democracy movement in the gulf state of Bahrain, he added.

On top of additional arms supplies to Algeria valued at about €10 billion, the government was entering dangerous new territory.

“It shows that there is no red line any longer for the federal government in Middle East policy,” Trittin said.

Der Spiegel reported that the deal had been approved by the government’s Security Council, a cabinet group made up of the chancellor and key ministers and which examines all major arms deals. The government has so far declined to comment.

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Reuters also reported that Saudia Arabia has already purchased 44 battle tanks from Germany.

Merkel’s junior coalition partners, the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP) has also raised concerns. The party’s defence expert, Elke Hoff, told broadcaster ARD: "They may do it. The question is whether it is accompanied by the necessary political sensitivity and how it is received by the public."

The Local/djw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

13:45 July 5, 2011 by Frenemy
As long as we don't give them APFSDS rounds the risk is minimal....
13:58 July 5, 2011 by Celeon
And this time i agree. Shall the Saudis buy more Abrams if they think they need more tanks.

Or is that the problem ? Maybe they were signalized that the u.s senate would not approve selling more Abrams to them because of the political situation ? So they try it elsewhere

No country owns the Abrams and the Leopard. Simply because it does not make any sense. Owning two pretty similar MBTs from two different manufacturers brings no military advantage but needlessly doubles the maintenance and crew training costs.

Except you haven't got the option to buy more of the type you already own that is. In that case you cannot but buy a new one with all the extra costs that come with it.
14:02 July 5, 2011 by trash head
If not Leopard then the T90 or PT99.
14:15 July 5, 2011 by Frenemy
@trash head

I doubt it. The Saudis ain't hurtin for cash (they will buy the best equipment they can get their hands on, and Russian/Chinese MBTs are NOT the best money can buy).
14:20 July 5, 2011 by minga
TBH, Saudis require the tanks in order to tackle all those women who started to drive.
15:27 July 5, 2011 by freechoice
i hope someday those women could drive those tanks and show who is the real boss!!
19:31 July 5, 2011 by Lachner
German defense companies like Heckler & Koch have been severely questioned in the past for supplying weapons to conflictive regions such as Sudan, Nepal, Burma, Thailand, Sierra Leone, Bosnia, Indonesia, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka. Therefore, I am not at all surprised that now the German Government is willing to break their long-held policy of not selling weaponry to the Arab Kingdom in order to bank a €2 Billion profit. I just hope that those weapons are never used against the German people in the future, such as what is happening now with the weaponry and training supplied by the US Government to the Afghan Insurgents (Mujihadeen) from 1979 to 1989 and which in the end turned up in the hands of Taliban and Al-Qaeda forces.
19:41 July 5, 2011 by DOZ
Does the Deal come with envelopes of cash as well.
19:50 July 5, 2011 by neunElf
I do not understand the rationale of anyone who sees no wrong in purchasing Saudi oil, but laments the sale of equipment to the Saudis which would support the future, uninterrupted production of the Saudi oil the world demands!
20:17 July 5, 2011 by 9900lawre
Us Brits sold the Challenger 2 to Saudi Arabia, The Americans the Abrams, and now the Germans with Leopard 2. All 3 are some of the best fighting armour money can buy. Brits provide training at Military Academy Sandhurst for Saudi royalty and many rich officers, tank training at Bovington, and lots of money to our Government for the privalige.

Money & oil, money & oil, money & oil. Ethics in the corner. Need i say more?
21:01 July 5, 2011 by nemo999
As far as the Armour Piercing Fin Stabilized Discarding Sabot (APFSDS) round is concern this is a NATO standard, used in the Abrams M1A1, Leopard 2 and Merkava. The Saudi all ready have this round.
21:38 July 5, 2011 by Frenemy

I'm sure they have a few, but its up to us (the West) to keep their inventory stocked up.
23:25 July 5, 2011 by BrianFromDC
I don't understand why Israel has to do with this at all. Does Israel has any human rights? I think every county has the right to protect its citizens.
00:07 July 6, 2011 by nemo999
General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems has agreements with several company to produce this ordnance (Thales is one such company). The oversea production agreements do not allow for the Depleted Uranium Bolt, instead a Wolfram or Tungsten Bolt is used.
18:56 July 6, 2011 by expatriarch
I wonder if a thorough risk assessment was made. They are significantly undervalued... as in significantly.

Essentially, if the tanks are going to be bought one way or another, from someone, why not let it be Germany. Does the Leopard2 impart significant technological advances, or is it an older model. If the Saudi dictatorship wants to buy tanks, no one is going to stop them, so why not make the money. But there is no ethical reason why they have to be sold advanced systems. Fracturing their maintenance requirements will only degrade their overall capacity, so there is a slight benefit from that angle too.
18:57 July 6, 2011 by Jack Kerouac
Don't the Germans make the best and coolest tanks?

Anyway, I agree with Brian, every country has the right to protect its citizens - if they mistreat people, it's on them. We Germans cannot be the world police - that's the United States' job ;)
10:18 July 7, 2011 by Traveler33
This is a good thing for Germany. Those tanks will have to be built by Germans and those Germans pay taxes and spend money on the economy so why should people balk at some good economic news.

All countries have the right to defend themselves, even the countries we don't like. If German finds it in their best interest to sell tanks to Saudi then let them.

Germany should not down the road of America and being the worlds police. It's hurt America abroad and it is bankrupting their budget.
20:57 July 7, 2011 by german-guardian
@ Traveler33,

Not everything is about paying taxes. Is that all you learned. That paying taxes, allows you to have your rights. No my friends, taxes are nothing. Money is nothing. The people's obligation to love their country and build it brick by brick is important. To help one another and be strong. To help the people in need. There are things much more valuable than money. You could have the beautifulest nation and beautifulest people who are healthy and strong, yet you could have very little money. There are things with value 1000 times that of money. There are things money can not buy. Love, beauty, friendship. Sure money could be an powerful assent, and if you have it, its good. However money is not center. Taxes are not center. Let us say in the future, since the government prints money, they said people don't need to pay taxes. It does not matter.
20:59 July 8, 2011 by Englishted
german-guardian for Finance Minister.
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