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    Germany Maintains Saudi Arms Sales Ban, Declines to Heed UK Plea

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    BRUSSELS (Sputnik) - Berlin has refused to lift the ban on arms sales to Saudi Arabia, despite the UK government's plea and reported displeasure of several weapons makers, including Germany's own Rheinmetall.

    In a leaked letter, UK foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt called on Berlin to exempt largest weapons projects. However, earlier this week, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Germany would not heed London's call to rethink the ban.

    BAE Systems said Thursday that it was working with London to mitigate the risks to its own contract with Riyadh on Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets. BAE, a multinational defense company headquartered in the United Kingdom, is part of a consortium manufacturing the jets. Germany is part of the consortium, alongside the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain.

    In addition, last month, it was reported that Rheinmetall was planning to sue the German government over loss of revenue.

    READ MORE: German Gov't Faces Suit for Banning Arms Export to Saudi Arabia — Reports

    Why Ban Arms Sales

    Germany announced the ban in October, amid the controversy surrounding the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed in a Saudi consulate in Istanbul. After two weeks of denials, Riyadh acknowledged that the journalist had been murdered and launched a probe into the case.

    The UK government faced the calls to stop arms exports to Riyadh even before Khashoggi case came about. UK-based Campaign Against Arms Trade's (CAAT) took the government to court, citing Saudi Arabia's involvement in a campaign in Yemen, split by the civil war.

    The Saudi-led coalition has been supporting the Yemeni government in its conflict with the Houthi movement. The coalition has been carrying out airstrikes and imposing naval and air blockades in Yemen.

    Maas suggested, at a joint press conference with his UK counterpart, that the resumption of sales would depend on the situation in Yemen.

    READ MORE: Berlin Arms Sales to Riyadh Violate International Law — NGO Chief

    How Arms Exports Can Help Peace

    Hunt said that the United Kingdom would not impose a similar embargo. According to the UK foreign secretary, it might even have a negative effect, reducing UK influence on the ongoing Yemeni peace process.

    Janice Atkinson, a UK member of the European Parliament, believes that Hunt made a good point.

    "Jeremy Hunt is right: if we want to have global influence then we must be seen to be exercising this right by negotiating and trading. The Germans are yet again reneging on their NATO obligations, perhaps it's their way of pushing onwards with their own vague idea of an EU army," Atkinson told Sputnik.

    AfD Executive Board member Georg Pazderski, the military issues specialist of the party, similarly believes that Germany cannot sell arms to Riyadh.

    "The Federal Government cannot deliver weapons to Saudi Arabia, without controlling to whom the Saudis deliver the weapons or where they use them. And supporting a deep military cooperation is out of a question," Pazderski told Sputnik.

    Activist Juergen Graesslin has stressed that the anti-arms campaigners have 'repeatedly rang the alarm bell about weapons deliveries to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.

    "We support the Churches in Germany, which have called in December 2018 for a fundamental shift in the federal government’s arms export policy. It has contributed to the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen. The two largest German churches (the Lutheran and Catholic Church) are assigning some responsibility for the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen to the arms export policy of the German federal government," Graesslin told Sputnik.

    READ MORE: German Defence Giant Rheinmetall Continues Sales to Riyadh Despite Ban — Reports

    Defining Terms for Arms Exports

    According to French member of the European Parliament, Gilles Lebreton, Germany and its chancellor, Angela Merkel, understand that the ban will hurt the country's weapons exporters.

    "Since their natural partners, in France or the UK, but also in other European countries, will avoid any partnership with German companies, that would threaten the good end of the contracts signed," Lebreton told Sputnik.

    The solution for European companies that exports arms would be to have well-defined contracts that would allow control over how the weapons are used, Lebreton suggested.

    The views and opinions expressed by the speakers do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    Related:

    German Arms Supplied to Saudi Arabia Despite Halt Over Khashoggi's Case - Report
    Germany Wants Other EU States to Halt Their Arms Exports to Saudi Arabia
    Germany Rethinks Weapons Sales to Saudi Arabia Over Jamal Khashoggi's Death
    Tags:
    European security, military cooperation, arms export, NATO, Alternative for Germany (AfD), German Foreign Ministry, European Union, Gilles Lebreton, Joerg Meuthen, Janice Atkinson, Angela Merkel, Heiko Maas, Jeremy Hunt, Germany, Europe, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia
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