Germany stops weapons sales to countries fighting in Yemen

Germany stops weapons sales to countries fighting in Yemen
Germany's government said on Friday it would "immediately" stop weapons sales to countries involved in the Yemen conflict, including major customer Saudi Arabia.
2 min read
20 January, 2018
German sales to Saudi Arabia and Egypt increased fivefold in 2017 [Getty]
Germany has announced it will stop selling weapons to countries involved in the devastating war in Yemen.

Berlin said on Friday that it would "immediately" stop approving arms exports to anyone participating in the conflict - including major weapons buyer Saudi Arabia. 

Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman wrote on Twitter that Germany "isn't taking any arms export decisions right now that aren't in line with the results of the preliminary talks," referring to coalition talks between Merkel's centre-right Christian Democrats (CDU) and the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD).

Rights group Amnesty International praised the foreign policy move in a tweet.

The issue of arms exports to nations involved in Yemen's bloody conflict has been a thorn in the side of Western states.

The UK has been repeatedly challenged on its sales to Saudi Arabia, which is leading an Arab coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Read more: Comment: The international community's whitewashing of Yemen

London has signed off on more than £3.3 billion (€3.7 billion, $4.4 billion) worth of arms sales to Riyadh since March 2015. 

During that time Saudi Arabia has embarked on a bombing campaign in Yemen that has been condemned for contributing to a the world's worst humanitarian disaster and allegedly violating international humanitarian law.

More than 10,000 people have since been killed - half of them civilians - and 11 million children are malnourished.

In Germany, Left party lawmaker Stefan Liebich said that Saudi Arabia and Egypt had "to answer for the thousands of deaths from their dirty war in Yemen," and called Berlin's decision to sell weapons to those countries "reprehensible".

In November, Liebich forced the Economic Ministry to disclose figures that showed arms sales to Saudi Arabia and Egypt had increased fivefold in 2017 compared to the previous year, with $526 million worth sold.

Earlier this month, Norway announced it would stop selling weapons to the United Arab Emirates after it expressed concern the weapons purchased from the Scandinavian monarchy may be used to kill civilians.

The Saudi-led alliance in Yemen includes Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain, Kuwait, UAE, Morocco, Sudan and Senegal.