The German government will not approve the sale of new defense equipment to Saudi Arabia, pending the conclusion of an investigation into the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was likely executed by Saudi operators in Istanbul on October 2.
However, last week Germany did approve delivery of four artillery positioning systems to Saudi Arabia, according to a government document seen by Reuters, after Chancellor Angela Merkel had stated her intent to halt arms sales to all the countries involved in the war in Yemen.
In Washington, after a few weeks of touting the value of arms sales to the Saudis, to the tune of more than $100 billion (the actual figure may be significantly smaller), President Donald Trump has come around now, criticizing Saudi Arabia’s handling of Khashoggi’s killing, saying it was the “worst cover-up ever.”
Trump’s comments about the killing have ranged from threatening “very severe” consequences, including economic sanctions, to softer remarks that stressed Saudi Arabia’s loyalty to the US ally against Iran.
Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said on Tuesday that his country must stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia because of the Khashoggi killing. “The arm export decision was taken by the regional parliaments, therefore, they don’t have authority other than to advise. We shouldn’t hide behind the EU. We should take Germany as an example and stop the arms sales to Saudi Arabia,” De Croo said.
Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne told Parliament on Wednesday that she has not ruled out an arms export ban to Saudi Arabia, as well as economic sanctions.
“All options are on the table, in terms of Australia respective response,” Payne said. “We recognize this is an extremely serious situation of the highest order of magnitude.”
But Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, announced on Wednesday that his government plans to fulfill its arms sales contracts with Saudi Arabia despite his personal “dismay” over the journalist’s killing. Sanchez explained that protecting jobs in southern Spain too important to give up over the affair.
Spain has sold Saudi Arabia five navy ships worth $2.1 billion, and 400 precision bombs.