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Monday, May 1, 2017

Saudi Official Says Kingdom Won't Buy German Arms

Saudi Arabia will not seek to purchase weapons from Germany, according to a Saudi official.

Saudi Deputy Economy Minister Mohammed al-Tuwaijri told Der Spiegel, a German magazine, in an interview released on April 30, 2017 that his country will not look to purchase arms from Germany.

The Economy Minister said, "We accept the German reticence with regard to exports to Saudi Arabia; we know the political background.

"We will not cause any more problems for the German government with new requests for weapons," he added.

He emphasized that instead Riyadh will prioritize keeping relations with Berlin on good terms, given the political sensitivities that have emerged alongside proposed sales in the past.

"Relations with Germany are much more important to us than arguing about weapons deals," Economy Minister Tuwaijri noted. He stated that Saudi Arabia is seeking to make Germany a key partner in economic cooperation.

German arms sales to Saudi Arabia have often come under intense scrutiny, over allegations of war crimes by the Saudi military. In the last few years, in particular, Saudi Arabia has received a significant amount of criticism from the international community, including Germany, over the deaths of civilians in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia is leading a military coalition to restore ousted President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi.

The German government remains concerned that arms it has sold to Saudi Arabia are being used to carry out war crimes, which violates German law.

Riyadh denies the war crimes allegations. In October, following the bombing of a funeral in the Yemeni capital Sana'a, the Saudi-led coalition issued a statement regarding the strikes saying,
"Because of non-compliance with coalition rules of engagement and procedures, and the issuing of incorrect information, a coalition aircraft wrongly targeted the location, resulting in civilian deaths and injuries."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has arrived to Saudi Arabia for a visit, stated on April 30 that there is "no military solution" to the conflict in Yemen, which many international agencies assess has become the world's worst humanitarian disasters after years of political turmoil.

German politicians have also criticized arms sales to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a partner of Saudi Arabia's in the Yemen conflict. Earlier this month, the German Green party issued a statement condemning a new report on sales to the UAE.

DW quoted the statement as reading,
"Once again, the government is waving through the delivery of military equipment to a war participant in the Gulf region. Instead of finally stopping all arms dealing with the states participating in the bloody war in Yemen, the CDU and SPD are ignoring Germany's arms export guidelines once again."
The CDU and SPD are Germany's governing political parties.

Like Saudi Arabia, the UAE rejects allegations of war crimes in Yemen.

Commenting on human rights concerns, Emirati Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash, stated at a United Nations Human Rights Council meeting in February that his country "remains deeply committed to promoting respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms," both domestically and abroad.

In regards specifically to Yemen, Foreign Affairs Minister Gargash added that the UAE has provided over $1.6 billion in aid to the Yemeni people since April 2015 (the month following the start of the Saudi-led campaign).

He pointed to the situation in Aden, in particular, which Emirati forces helped capture in July 2015. He said,
"In Aden, the Coalition has restored electricity and water, renovated over 150 schools, rendered hospitals functional, maintained security by recruiting, training and equipping local police and security forces, and implemented numerous other projects to assist the local population."

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