Germany is sending millions of euros worth of tanks and howitzers to a region where governments have been accused of using force against their own citizens in violent crackdowns against dissent.
Judging by booming sales in the first half of 2013, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government looks set to top the record €1.42 billion of arms sold to Gulf states last year – €1.24 billion to Saudi Arabia alone – wrote the Süddeutsche Zeitung on Wednesday.
Weapons worth €817 million have been approved for export to the six governments of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) this year, said the paper – most of which are destined for Qatar.
The figures come from the Federal Economics Ministry, released in response to a Left party parliamentary enquiry.
The majority of the recent arms sales – €635 million worth – has been to Qatar. In April newspaper reports revealed the Arab emirate had bought 62 German Leopard 2 combat tanks and 24 Panzerhaubitze tracked self-propelled howitzers.
“Angela Merkel is developing into the best friend of the Gulf despots,”
Left party MP and arms trade expert Jan van Aken told the paper. “If it carries on like this 2013 will probably break a new record.”
Merkel’s government has come under fire over the past 18 months from domestic critics who question the morality of arming governments with less-than-perfect human rights records during the upheavals of the Arab Spring.
“Despite all criticism Angela Merkel remains completely without conscience in her weapons exports,” van Aken told the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
“The German arms industry seems to be more important to her than human rights. She’s acting as if the Arab Spring never happened,” he added.