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Germany approves export of weapons systems to Qatar

January 24, 2019 at 8:12 pm

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani (L) hold a joint press conference after their meeting in Berlin, Germany on 15 September 2017 [Erbil Başay/Anadolu Agency]

The German government has approved the export to Qatar of four RAM naval missile systems developed by Germany and the United States, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier told lawmakers in a letter seen by Reuters.

The January 23 letter did not provide the value of the deal, citing a 2014 court ruling that exempts such disclosures if it could harm companies’ ability to compete.

Approval of the sale comes amid a halt in all weapons sales to Qatar’s rival Saudi Arabia imposed by Berlin after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

RAM is a ship-based rolling airframe missile that protects naval vessels against missiles, aircraft, helicopters and other ships. The sale also includes 85 dual-mode radar and infrared seekers that guide the missile into its target.

The RAM system is manufactured and marketed by RAM-System GmBH, a joint venture of Germany’s Diehl and European missile maker MBDA, and US arms maker Raytheon Co. MBDA is jointly owned by Airbus, Britain’s BAE Systems and Italy’s Leonardo.

The missile system will be exported to Qatar via Italy, while the seekers will be exported through the United States, Altmaier said in his letter.

Klaus Ernst, a member of the radical Left opposition party, blasted the German government’s decision, given continued concerns about security and human rights in the Gulf region.

It is irresponsible of the German government to continue to approve arms sales to crisis regions.

Germany last year announced plans to expand ties with Qatar, which pledged to invest 10 billion euros in the German economy.

The RND newspaper chain, which first reported the latest arms sale to Qatar, said the RAM system had previously been sold by Germany to Egypt, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates.