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Report: Saudi Arabia boycotts German arms over sympathy with Qatar

April 18, 2018 at 12:28 pm

Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir speaks during a joint press conference with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel following their meeting in Berlin, Germany on 7 June, 2017 [Cüneyt Karadağ/Anadolu Agency]

Saudi Arabia is said to have been reluctant to conclude arms deals with Germany over the latter’s sympathy with the State of Qatar because of the blockade imposed by the Kingdom and its allies, Germany’s Deutsche Welle newspaper reported.

According to the German site said that “until recently, hopes were high to double Saudi-German trade but this exchange is declining as Berlin is barred from concluding deals with Saudi Arabia, perhaps due to the strained relationship with the Saudi Crown Prince.”

Citing the German Foreign Trade Association, the report pointed out that for the second year in a row, German exports to Saudi Arabia have declined falling nine per cent in 2017 compared to 28 per cent in 2016.

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“Since the arrival of the Saudi Crown Prince, political relations between Berlin and Riyadh have become tense and deteriorated even more after a German Foreign Intelligence report leaked which warned of instability in the Middle East because of the compulsive Saudi policy driven by the Crown Prince’s thirst for power,” it said.

The website pointed out that “with the outbreak of the Gulf crisis, the German government and media sympathised with Qatar against the four countries that boycotted it”, while Foreign Minister, Sigmar Gabriel at the time, warned of a Gulf war because of attempts to isolate Doha.

German radio reported that the tension reached its peak after Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil visited Berlin to discuss Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s surprise resignation during his visit to Riyadh and his detention there. That day Gabriel criticised Riyadh without naming it, warning of what he called “the breadth of the spirit of adventure there”.

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After that, Riyadh responded by withdrawing its ambassador, who has not returned to Berlin since.

Deutsche Welle stressed that it is clear that tension in political relations between Berlin and Riyadh have negatively affected trade exchange between them, as well as relations with the UAE; an ally of Saudi Arabia. According to the site, German exports to the UAE have declined by more than 23 percent in 2017 compared to 2016.