Germany Approves Half a Billion Euros Worth of Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia

Amid heightened scrutiny of Riyadh over the apparent murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Germany approves 416.4 million euros worth of arms in what may be a breach of a coalition agreement by Angela Merkel

FILE PHOTO: Saudi army artillery fire shells towards Houthi positions from the Saudi border with Yemen April 13, 2015

The German government has approved just below half a billion euros worth of arms sales to Saudi Arabia so far this year, making the kingdom the second-largest recipient after Algeria, according to an Economy Ministry document seen by dpa.

Berlin approved 416.4 million euros' (477 billion dollars) worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, which is leading an air campaign in Yemen aimed at propping up its authoritarian president, between January 1 and September 30, the ministry said in response to an information request from an opposition lawmaker.

Only Algeria was a bigger recipient of arms from Germany this year, with the government in Berlin approving 741.3 million euros' worth of arms exports to the north African nation in the same period.

Saudi Arabia is under scrutiny after the disappearance of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but the figures released Friday are also relevant because the arms exports to Saudi may violate a coalition agreement signed at the start of Chancellor Angela Merkel's fourth term.

As insisted upon by the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), the coalition agreement stipulates that the German government is not allowed to approve weapons exports to any country "directly" involved in the war in Yemen.

There is, however, an exemption in the coalition agreement for countries with which Germany made weapons deals prior to Merkel's fourth term.