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Germany approves arms sales to Saudi Arabia, breaking coalition promise

The German government has approved the delivery of controversial weapons systems to Saudi Arabia, the United...

Posted: Sep 20, 2018 8:29 PM
Updated: Sep 20, 2018 8:29 PM

The German government has approved the delivery of controversial weapons systems to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, despite a January ban on arms sales to countries embroiled in the bloody conflict in Yemen, a German lawmaker confirmed to CNN on Thursday.

Earlier this week, Germany's economy minister Peter Altmair wrote a letter to parliament members that outlined the approval of several defense contracts, including four artillery positioning systems to Saudi Arabia.

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The letter was seen by the lawmaker who spoke to CNN. It also revealed that 48 warheads and 91 missiles for UAE warships had been approved, along with 385 anti-tank missiles for Jordan.

Qatar, no longer active in the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen, was also cleared to receive an armored howitzer, 170 air-to-air missiles and seven air-defense missile systems, the lawmaker confirmed.

The letter did not specify when the arms deals were made.

The weapons sales have come under criticism from German opposition parties. Earlier this year, Germany's governing coalition had halted weapons sales to countries involved in the Yemen conflict.

The coalition agreement was approved in January by the three parties in government: Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union; its sister party the Christian Social Union; and the center-left Social Democrats. It states that arms sales to countries involved in the war in Yemen would end.

"With immediate effect, the government will no longer approve exports (of weapons) to countries as long as they are involved in the war in Yemen," the January agreement said.

On Thursday, Germany's Economy Ministry declined to comment.

Saudi Arabia has waged a years-long military campaign in Yemen in support of the internationally recognized government that the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels drove out of the capital, Sanaa.

The news from Germany comes just days after CNN's exclusive reporting on the use of US-made weapons in the Yemen conflict.

The report revealed that fragments of US-manufactured weapons had been found at the sites of a string of attacks since the start of the war, including a bomb that killed 40 children who were on a field trip in August.

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