- SPD party leader Nahles spoke in favor of extending the export ban on arms for Saudi Arabia for another six months.
- If the SPD prevails with this position in the government, this should have far-reaching consequences for the defense industry in Germany.
- The governments in Paris and London had severely criticized Germany for stopping exports because they also affected joint projects.
The SPD wants to clearly extend the ban on arms exports to Saudi Arabia. Party and faction leader Andrea Nahles spoke on Tuesday to extend the export stop for six more months. Most recently, the ban had been extended by three weeks to the end of March. Nahles wants to make an end to the export stop a turnaround of Saudi Arabia in the Yemen conflict to the condition.
Saudi Arabia is leading a military alliance fighting Yemeni Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. The war has led to one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes in the world. If the SPD prevails with this position in the government, this should have far-reaching consequences for the defense industry in Germany, but also further burden the relationship with partner countries such as France and the UK. The governments in Paris and London had severely criticized Germany for stopping exports because they also affected joint projects.
In Germany, the ban has brought especially the Peene shipyard in Wolgast in trouble. She is worried about her large order for patrol boats for Saudi Arabia, jobs are in danger. Nahles made it clear that the SPD had already expressed itself in the coalition negotiations clearly for a realignment in arms policy and also prevailed in the form of the so-called Yemeni clause.
The coalition agreement stipulates that Germany will no longer authorize exports to countries "as long as they are directly involved in the Yemen war". Excluded are already approved deliveries. In November, however, the German government used the killing of the Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a government critic, as a reason to stop the arms business altogether.
Brinkhaus calls for "simpler and clearer rules"
With this decision, Berlin is also blocking the business of its partners France and Great Britain in joint projects. Although Nahles showed understanding that the partners expected from Germany contract loyalty. Nevertheless, she will "work to ensure that our partners" "respect" the German reservations. In the meeting of the SPD parliamentary group Nahles criticized according to participants that Minister of Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier (CDU) still had submitted no tightened arms export guideline. That, too, was a fixed date in the coalition.
Altmaier recently warned that Germany could be left out of future armaments projects. This could endanger companies and jobs in Germany. Even Chancellor Angela Merkel has already called for compromise in export. Germany could not speak out in favor of a European army and then refuse dialogue with partner countries on joint projects. The Union's group leader Ralph Brinkhaus said on Tuesday, when it comes to arms exports, one must "basically" discuss with the SPD: "We need simpler and clearer rules."