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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

UAE-linked weapons company wins German government contract, raising human rights concerns

Stock image of UAE gun show [Getty]

Date of publication: 16 September, 2020

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A UAE-linked weapons manufacturing company has landed a lucrative German defence ministry contract.
The German government has chosen arms manufacturer Haenel, which is owned by a company in Abu Dhabi, to make assault rifles for the military, sidelining long-time supplier Heckler & Koch.

Germany’s defence ministry said in a statement Tuesday that C.G. Haenel GmbH, based in the central German town of Suhl, came out top in the tender, though the 250 million-euro ($300 million) contract deal is subject to legal challenges.

Haenel is owned by Abu Dhabi-based Caracal International, which in turn is part of the UAE state conglomerate EDGE Group.

Founded in 1840, Haenel was one of many German arms manufacturers to benefit from the country's remilitarisation programme under the Nazis.

Towards the end of the Second World War it developed the StG 44 assault rifle, considered a major influence for the AK-47.

If the contract is approved by parliament, Haenel will supply 120,000 rifles to the German military to replace the Heckler & Koch G36, which has suffered from overheating problems.

Heckler & Koch, which has manufactured the German military's standard assault rifle lost the contract for the first time in 60 years.

Anti-arms activists are concerned.

Jürgen Grässlin told DW the decision was a "complete catastrophe from a human rights point-of-view".

"We thought that the German government wouldn't approve the deal if the contract went to a company where the owner is not only not in Europe, but in the United Arab Emirates," he said.

"The UAE isn't a normal country by our criteria: It's in a crisis zone, and for years it has been involved in the Yemen war alongside Saudi Arabia."

The UAE's recent decision to normalise relations with Israel has put a strain on regional dynamics, with many countries criticising the move.

The Palestinian Authority oppose normalisation, even as Bahrain follows suit.

Despite the peace deal, the UAE's recent bid to purschase F-35 fighter jets from the US has been opposed by Israel.

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