Monday, August 1, 2011

Ex-German minister slams Saudi deal

A German-made Leopard battle tank (file photo)

Source: Press TV

The former German development minister has joined the opposition Green Party, condemning Berlin for a suspected sale of 200 Leopard tanks to Saudi Arabia.

"The tank deal with Saudi Arabia is a catastrophic decision," Deutsche Welle quoted Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul as saying on Monday.

She further called on the foreign minister to explain how the government could openly support the Egyptian people while at the same time secretly conduct an arms deal with the oppressive regime in Saudi Arabia.

This "is the exact opposite of the government's public stance on the democratic uprisings in the Arab World," she said.

Her comment comes a day after the opposition Greens announced that it will take the government to the Constitutional Court over the secret deal.

"A suit brought by the members of parliament Christian Stroebele, Claudia Roth and Katja Keul was filed on Friday" a Green party spokeswoman said.

While the Green Party has called for the report to be made public, the government has claimed that on the basis of national security, it will not comment on the matter.

However, the sale has been publicly known since early July when the German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel reported the decision by the Federal Security Council's multi-billion-dollar sale.

The deal came while Germany had imposed a ban on the sale of advanced Leopard 2 tanks to Saudi Arabia in the 1980s, citing fears that they might be used against Israel.

The Saudis are also in talks with American companies to buy nearly USD 60 billion worth of arms, including 84 new F-15 fighter jets and 178 combat helicopters.

The sales come at a time when Riyadh is being roundly censured for its military interventions in neighboring Bahrain and Yemen.

The Saudi army launched an all-out military offensive against Houthi fighters in Yemen's northern province of Sa'ada in 2010. In March 2011, the Saudis deployed troops in Bahrain to help the regime's forces crack down on nationwide protests.

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