The German government has extended the arms export ban for Saudi Arabia by a year until the end of 2021, Suddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) reported today quoting a government spokeswoman’s statement to the German dpa press agency. The embargo has even been tightened, as export licenses that have already been granted, and which were previously only on hold, will now be revoked, with the exception of European cooperation projects.
The export ban for Saudi Arabia, which has been in force since 2018, has already been extended several times and most recently was due to expire on December 31. It was originally decided as part of the coalition agreement between the CDU and the SPD, which stipulates an arms export stop for all countries "directly" involved in the Yemen war, SZ reported. The decision for Saudi Arabia was enforced more strictly after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was critical of the government, in the Saudi consulate general in Istanbul.
The current extension of the export ban was mainly demanded by the SPD, SZ reported.
For more than five years, the kingdom has led an alliance of Arab states fighting the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. The war has resulted in one of the world's worst humanitarian disasters. The Saudi leadership justified the intervention of the coalition it led with the fact that the legitimate government in Yemen had asked for it.
The Saudi State Minister Adel al-Jubair had only recently criticized the German export ban as "wrong" and "illogical" during a visit to Germany. At the same time, he made it clear: "We don't need German weapons to operate our military,” SZ said.
While the ban on deliveries of cooperative programs, such as Tornado and Eurofighter, has been lifted at the insistence of Germany’s European partners, the Peene shipyard in Wolgast in Western Pomerania, which belongs to Bremen-based Lürssen, was hit hardest by the export ban.
Saudi Arabia had ordered 35 patrol boats from the shipyard but, by the time the export ban was decreed, only 15 had been delivered, and seven more had already been built. In the meantime, however, at least a partial solution has been found for the shipyard, SZ reported, as in early November the German government approved the delivery of nine of these patrol boats, and a coastal defense, boat to Egypt for around 130 million euros.