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De Maizière rejects Saudi tank deal criticism

The Local · 9 Jul 2011, 11:16

Published: 09 Jul 2011 11:16 GMT+02:00

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Chancellor Merkel told broadcaster Sat.1 that Saudi Arabia was a country of "major strategic significance," despite "substantial shortcomings in the human rights arena."

The government has come under fire since reports emerged that Berlin had approved the sale of 200 Leopard tanks to Saudi Arabia. The lucrative deal would reverse Germany's long-standing policy not to supply heavy weaponry to the country.

Without confirming the tank deal, the German defence minister echoed Merkel's comments on Saudi Arabia's "stabilising and moderating role in the region," particularly in light of its shared border with politically unstable Yemen.

In an interview with German daily Hamburger Abendblatt, de Maizière described Saudi Arabia as an "ally of the West."

"Saudi Arabia is one of the most important anchors of stability in the region," de Maizière said, all the while acknowledging that the country did not meet Germany's standards of free and democratic governance.

De Maizière also hit back at the political opposition, which has heaped criticism on Merkel's government since details of the arms deal emerged.

"The SPD and Greens, who are up in arms about an arms deal, handled things the same way when they were in government," he told Hamburger Abendblatt. "I would advise the Social Democrats, in particular, to be careful when they criticise what we do."

But opposition politicians aren't the only ones who are unhappy about the deal. Horst Teltschik, a former advisor to conservative chancellor Helmut Kohl, took issue with the description of Saudi Arabia as a source of regional stability.

"I consider the current situation in Saudi Arabia to be unstable," he told broadcaster ZDF on Friday. "The entire region is in turmoil."

Story continues below…

Teltschik also criticised the government's refusal to comment on the deal, saying that if the reports are true, it would be something that officials couldn't keep secret.

"The government would then have to make it public and justify why they made this kind of decision," he said.

DAPD/The Local/arp

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

14:11 July 9, 2011 by Kennneth Ingle
Chancellor Angela Merkel and Defence Minister Thomas de Maizière are proving to be a danger for Germany and the world.

By emphasising an Arab kingdom's "stabilising" role, rather than the human-rights of its subjects, this government has taken yet another step to making Germany a target for terrorists.

Despite the one sided policies against Arabs and for Jews in the Palestine dispute, Germany was, for a long time, looked upon as a suitable mediator within the Middle -East. Since throwing all caution and values over-board, this country has lost all political credibilty.

The readiness to sell weapons, to countries which do not respect democracy, is only one aspect. Add to this the readiness to deploy troops in countries which are not and never have been a danger to Germany, reminds older people of the situation before 1914 and 1939.

This is a question of arrogance taking the place where intelligence is needed. One might now understand why in 1945, the Allies were resolved not to let Germany re-arm. How short are our memories?
16:49 July 9, 2011 by IYWMTS
Please go to google and type in:

- U.S. selling arms to Saudia Arabia -


- The 'dirty secret' of British arms sales to Libya just months before Gaddafi slaughtered pro-democracy protesters -

"Add to this the readiness to deploy troops in countries which are not and never have been a danger to Germany, reminds older people of the situation before 1914 and 1939."

Which countries exactly do you mean? Afghanistan?
17:54 July 9, 2011 by Englishted
@Kennneth Ingle

Which countries apart from Austria (no danger to German true) did German deploy troops to before 1914 and 1939 for you to draw a comparison with?

Sometimes to make yourself a target for terrorist is the right thing to do ,whether this is true in this case I'm not sure.

But as @IYWMTS points out any country that makes arms is going to sell them ,there are more than the two he named though.
18:55 July 9, 2011 by IYWMTS
Of course there are a lot more than the two countries mentioned above. China, Russia, France... money simply rules the world.
23:57 July 9, 2011 by lunchbreak
Of course, money talks - nobody walks.

In the end the only thing that matters is closing the deal. There are thousands of flacks hired around the world to spin this fact of life in any and every way in the hope of confusing enough people to continue to get away with it.

Don't be bamboozled.
08:19 July 10, 2011 by johnny108
Stop crying about the tanks!

Years ago, the American government approved the sale of their most advanced Air-to-air missile to this government. This means it will be on the open market to the russians and the chinese.

In order to keep the industry/manufacturers in business- your government will sell your enemy top-of-the-line military equipment.

Welcome to the real world..........
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