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Konrad Werner: Saudi Arabia is Germany’s new moral guru

Saudi Arabia has said it won't bother Germany for more weapons again, because of the political problems. The German government is all like: Oh, we don't mind. We sold a load of "Dingos" to a Kurdish warlord.

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Photo courtesy of US military (copyright free)

The anti-weapons activists in Germany have a new friend. While the German government was failing to pay those troublesome peaceniks any attention, the Saudi monarchy, through Deputy Economy Minister Mohammed al-Tuwaijri, bowed to carrot-muncher pressure and said, “We will not cause any more problems for the German government with new requests for weapons. … We accept the German reticence with regard to exports to Saudi Arabia; we know the political background.”

That’s a fairly big deal, especially because Merkel’s government hasn’t shown much interest in this political background before. Last year, Saudi Arabia was the third biggest customer for Germany’s arms manufacturers, having bought €529 million of military equipment. And the staple German government statement on the issue – which never changes – is just that it will continue to assess and approve arms deal applications on an individual basis (it does this in a secret council called the Bundessicherheitsrat, which consists of Merkel and her main ministers).

So that’s good. Thanks to the moral compass of the Saudi monarchy. Meanwhile, Germany is busy going about its business elsewhere and then pretending no one good is being killed with German weapons. Last week, the left-wing bloggers Lower Class Magazine published videos that showed Bundeswehr Dingo vehicles – bought by the Kurdish Peshmerga in 2014 – being used to attack the Yezidi town of Khanasor, in northern Iraq, a month ago.

This is illegal, because, according to the German government, the Peshmerga signed agreements promising they would only use the German arms to fight the “Islamic State”, and not for their own domestic Kurdish battles. The German government first denied that the video showed anything happening in Khanasor, even though Lower Class Magazine said, in a sarky post about the failure of mainstream outlets to do any reporting, that it had been there, and asked locals and verified what happened. 

It looks like those notes about who the Peshmerga are allowed to kill (which were definitely stapled to the receipts when the German army delivered the Dingos) fell off sometime in the last three years. Also looks like Germany is still tooling up the Middle East and hoping not too many people get killed, or displaced, or walk to Germany. Ah well, I’m sure it’ll be fine.