The German government said on Friday that it would “immediately” stop approving arms exports to anyone participating in the war in Yemen. The move would include Saudi Arabia, a major buyer of German weapons.
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 center-right Christian Democrats (CDU) and the center-left Social Democrats (SPD).
Arms exports to nations with poor human rights records like Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been heavily criticized by opposition politicians in Berlin.
After a request from Left party lawmaker Stefan Liebich in the fall, Merkel’s government was forced to admit that it had nearly quintupled arms sales to Saudi Arabia and Egypt from 2016 to 2017.
Liebich said that Saudia Arabia and Egypt had to “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.”
Yemen’s ongoing civil conflict has pitted the country’s Riyadh-backed government against Iran-supported Houthi rebels, effectively becoming a proxy war between the regional rivals. Since the outbreak of violence in 2015, 10,000 people have been killed – more than half of them civilians.
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