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Saudi Arabia urges Germany to lift arms ban

Timothy Jones
February 17, 2020

The Saudi foreign minister has told a German news agency that the current export ban went against "the good relations" between the countries. Yet he also warned that Saudi Arabia is far from dependent on German arms.

A rocketlauncher belonging to Germany's army
Image: Getty Images/A. Koerner

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said he expects Germany to rescind its ban on arms exports to Saudi Arabia.

"We hope Germany understands that we need the means to defend ourselves," he told German news agency DPA in an interview released on Monday.

In his comments, he referred to last year's attacks on Saudi oil facilities, which he blamed on Iran. Prince Faisal said the fact that Germany had not approved arms exports to Saudi Arabia despite the continued threat of such attacks did not conform "to the framework of good relations that we have with Germany."

Read more: German arms exports — what you need to know

Prince Faisal bin Fahan Al Saud
Prince Faisal was born in Germany and has been Saudi ambassador to that countryImage: picture-alliance/dpa/Bildfunk/K. Nietfeld

Quality praised

His remarks come six weeks before the German government is due to decide whether to extend the ban once more beyond the current end date of March 31, 2020.

Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) and conservative CDU/CSU bloc agreed in their coalition contract of March 2018 to ban arms exports to all countries "directly" involved in Yemen's civil war, which include Saudi Arabia.

However, this agreement contained numerous exceptions that allowed some exports of German military materials to the Gulf state. Those holes were plugged half a year later after the murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. The now complete ban has been extended twice.

In the DPA interview, the Saudi foreign minister praised the quality of German military equipment, but stressed that his country was not reliant on it: "There are other sources where we can procure such materials. We will buy what we need wherever we can get it."

Read more: Saudi Arabia: Between religion, oil dependence and reforms 

A German town pays the price for Saudi export ban

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