RIYADH (Dispatches) – Saudi Arabia has criticized Germany’s arms export ban on the Persian Gulf kingdom as "wrong” and "illogical” and claimed it does not need German military equipment.
Some European nations have halted weapons sales to Riyadh after it launched a military campaign in 2015 in neighboring Yemen, which the United Nations now calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
"The idea that weapon sales were stopped to Saudi Arabia because of the Yemen war I think is illogical,” said Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir.
After being extended multiple times, Germany’s ban on arms exports will once again be up for discussion in the coming weeks as the latest deadline, December 31, draws closer.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition agreed in March 2018 to prevent arms from being delivered to any country directly involved in the war in Yemen.
Before the ban, Germany did brisk business with the Saudi regime with an export volume of 450m euros ($550m) in the third fiscal quarter of 2017, according to German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
A Saudi-led coalition of countries waged a devastating military campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing a former Riyadh-friendly government back to power there.
The U.S.-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the war has claimed more than 100,000 lives for over the past five years.
"We can buy weapons from a number of countries, and we do so. Saying we’re not going to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia doesn’t make a difference to us,” said al-Jubeir.
Saudi Arabia was the world’s top arms importer, spending $16.9bn on weapons in the period between 2014 and 2018, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), a defense think-tank.
At least $4.9bn of that was spent on European arms.
Rights groups have criticized the Saudi-led coalition for air raids that have killed civilians at hospitals, schools and markets, and urged Western governments to halt arms exports to Saudi Arabia and its allies in the conflict.
According to the UN’s World Food Programme, 24 million Yemenis are in need of humanitarian assistance, while 20 million are food-insecure.