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The New Arab Staff

'Makes no difference': Saudi minister slams German arms ban

The ban "doesn't make a difference to us," the official said.

Date of publication: 15 November, 2020

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Saudi's foreign affairs minister said the Kingdom does not need German military equipment, as the European country prepares to once again discuss the ban of arms exports to Saudi.
Saudi Arabia has said Germany's arms export ban on the Gulf kingdom is "illogical" and will "not make a difference". 

The European country is preparing to discuss a potential extension to a ban on arms exports to Saudi Arabia, much to the dismay of Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir.

"The idea that weapon sales were stopped to Saudi Arabia because of the Yemen war I think is illogical," al-Jubeir told the German press agency dpa on Sunday.

"We think it's wrong because we think the war in Yemen is a legitimate war. It's a war that we were forced into it," the official added.

Germany's ban on weapons sales to Riyadh came after the gulf country launched a military campaign in 2015 in neighbouring Yemen after Iran-backed Houthis rebels took control of the capital and much of the north in 2014, driving the internationally recognised government into exile. 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition decided to halt arms sales to any country directly involved in the Yemen war in 2018, citing the targeting of innocent civilians, including children.

The move came soon after a Saudi coalition air strike on a bus in a market in northern Yemen killed dozens of children and wounded over a dozen more.

The Saudi military later acknowledged that a targeting mistake had led to the bus being hit. In a statement, it said that intelligence had pointed to the bus being occupied by senior members of the rebel group.

The military
 said in a statement at the time: "The Joint Forces Command of the coalition expresses regret over the mistakes, [and] extends its sympathies, condolences and solidarity to the families of the victims."

Read also: Yemen in Focus: Prisoner release a 'moment of joy' after years of misery

According to German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, Germany exported arms worth 450 million euros ($550m) to the Kingdom in the third fiscal quarter of 2017.

"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.

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