German divisions over Saudi arms embargo upsets EU allies
Tensions between Germany and its EU allies are mounting after Berlin failed to reach an agreement on lifting an arms embargo against Saudi Arabia, even though a breakthrough had been expected on Wednesday.
Germany imposed an embargo in October after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but the measure has annoyed France and Britain, whose giant arms makers require German components that are now banned.
Berlin has until Sunday to decide whether to extend or lift its ban on arms exports to the Middle Eastern country, which is also a leading participant in the war in Yemen. A meeting of the Federal Security Council, however, ended without an agreement as the ruling CDU and SPD coalition parties were at loggerheads, news agency DPA and Tagesspiegel reported.
The center-right CDU wants to drop the embargo, while the center-left SPD want to keep it in place.
Paris and London have pressured the German government to lift the ban. Frances ambassador to Berlin, Anne-Marie Descôtes, stirred up the debate with an opinion piece on Tuesday, in which she called Germanys export control system “not restrictive but unpredictable” and complained that the ban on arms exports to Saudi Arabia was “particularly affected by current German domestic politics and not just the strict application of European criteria and international obligations.”
“The Federal Government is in intensive talks about this and wants to reach decisions by the end of this month.” — Steffen Seibert, German government spokesman
Her remarks chime with those from President Emmanuel Macron, who said last year it is “pure demagoguery” to want to ban Saudi arms sales over Khashoggis death.
U.K. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said last month, in a letter to his German counterpart Heiko Maas that he is “very concerned about the impact of the German governments decision on the British and European defense industry.”