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Saudi Arabia tops German arms trade list

The Local · 22 Feb 2013, 08:37

Published: 22 Feb 2013 08:37 GMT+01:00

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The states of Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which form the Gulf cooperation council, spent between them €1.42 billion on German arms in 2012.

This was a huge increase from the 2011 figure of €570 million. The information was released by the Economy Ministry in response to a written parliamentary question submitted by the socialist Left party, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on Friday.

The biggest arms customer of the region was Saudi Arabia which spent €1.24 billion in 2012 alone - nine times the amount it spent on German weapons the year before.

German business with Saudi Arabia is highly contentious because of the kingdom's poor domestic human rights record and its intervention in neighbouring Bahrain two years ago to help the government there put down protests.

"The Gulf states continue to arm themselves, and the government has absolutely no compunction about arming them to the teeth," said Jan van Aken, an MP from The Left party.

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He said the fact that Saudi Arabia was by far the leading customer for the German arms export industry clearly showed "that the most grave human rights abuses are obviously no longer any reason to refuse exports."

The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

10:29 February 22, 2013 by Repatriated
Good for the German economy. These Middle Eastern States will purchase their weapons one way or another, whether from the US, Russia, China or Germany. It appears that they have selected the preferential military hardware from Germany.

As to human rights abuses...I'm sure the US is one of the first and foremost to raise the issue of human rights abuses perpetrated by other countries throughout the world (but only to the politically expedient countries), but that hasn't prevented them from selling their most advanced military hardware and technology to Israel. I do believe there have been multitude of human rights abuses in that region for over 60 years.
10:34 February 22, 2013 by ND1000
@repatriated, what does this article have to do with the U.S.? Its about Germany.
12:00 February 22, 2013 by Repatriated

Simple...it has to do with the Left Party objections of selling weapons to human rights abuse regions. The US has no problems with it, so why should Germany??
13:17 February 22, 2013 by melbournite
Nice to know that Germany (along with the US and the UK) are supporting freedom, democracy, equality for women and religious tolerance - all well known attributes of Saudi Arabia. Naked greed of course has nothing to do with it
14:03 February 22, 2013 by ovalle3.14
I find the idea of selling weapons to anybody a bad idea. Today we're friends, tomorrow maybe not.
14:52 February 22, 2013 by Repatriated
@ Melbournite

The sale or not the sale of military weapons to Saudi Arabia isn't going to make a hill of beans difference as to whether or not they will treat women equally to men or whether they will allow religious tolerance in their country.

They are not going to change in our lifetime because they have been doing this for the past 1432 years. It's ingrained in their culture and deep religious beliefs. Furthermore, they don't have to react to or feel intimidated by Western human rights pressures because they are sitting on a big fat pot of black gold, and as we all know that the golden rule applies. Let's just hope that these folks don't keep buying up German companies.
16:48 February 22, 2013 by melbournite
"The sale or not the sale of military weapons to Saudi Arabia isn't going to make a hill of beans difference"

Yes it does. They use those weapons to oppress their own people and people in other countries. Haven't you been following the Arab Spring?

"They are not going to change in our lifetime because they have been doing this for the past 1432 years"

yes, a little bit of ahistorical racism never goes astray when you want to profit from other people's misery
17:25 February 22, 2013 by raandy
melbournite true arms sales and human rights do not mix.

There are other concerns as well, Irans nuclear ambitions and threats to close the straights of Hormuz,the Iranians are mostly Shiite and the Saudis mostly Sunni, The Shiite have been trying to become the regions super power.Nato is turning a blind eye to human rights in the kingdom for regional stability, by keeping the Theocratic Dictatorship a counter balance to Islamic Republic.

Of course profit and unemployment are factors, Sad, that Human Rights takes a back seat to politics and I doubt that will change either.
21:43 February 22, 2013 by ND1000
@Repatriated, got it. Thanks for clarification. I think most countries don't care even they claim to.
00:34 February 23, 2013 by Rischart99
If this was the UK Cameron would be celebrating this on the front of every newspaper. If you don't supply these arms plenty of Germany's allies will soon jump in. I presume The Left Party wouldn't complain at job losses in the German defence industry, they usually can't wait to blame someone.
18:51 February 23, 2013 by Berliner1978
German arms sales to various Arab countires may have increased lately, but they are nothing new. Germany sold a lot of former DDR BMP Infantry Fighting Vehicles and various tanks to Iraq after the first Gulf War, as well as thousands of DDR produced AK47 rifles, easily identified by their distinctive brown furniture. I see them all the time here.

As for the Saudi's, their relationship with German arms producers goes back to the 1960's, although they do not always pay their bills. There exists an H&K MP5 Submachine Gun built for a member of the Saudi Royal family, heavily engraved and gold inlaid with elephant ivory grips. Not sure if it was ever delivered. I do know that the 70+ H&K P9S pistols built for a Saudi government ministry were never delivered due to lack of payment, I have one in my collection and they turn up every no and again on the German civilian market.

German arms sellers should insist on payment in advance with these guys.

On another, but related note, care to guess what the most popular book originally written in German is in Arab countries? :D
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