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Germany lifts ban on Eurofighter jet deliveries to Saudi Arabia, citing defence of Israel

January 8, 2024 at 3:01 pm

An Eurofighter jet of the TacticalAir Force Wing 71 “Richthofen” of the German Armed Forces Bundeswehr approaches during the „Hannover Shield“ exercise 2023 at the airport in Hannover, northern Germany, on November 27, 2023. [RONNY HARTMANN/AFP via Getty Images]

Germany has announced that it will no longer block deliveries of the Eurofighter Typhoon jet to Saudi Arabia, in a shift in Berlin’s stance caused by Riyadh’s reaction to the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip and its dialogue with Israel.

Speaking to reporters during her trip to Israel on Sunday, German Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock, revealed that Germany will now allow further deliveries of the Eurofighter jets to Saudi Arabia, stating that the world and especially the Middle East “has become a completely different place since” the Palestinian Resistance group Hamas’s operation into Israel on 7 October.

A German government spokesperson was also quoted by reports as adding that the policy decision was also a result of Saudi Arabia’s “very constructive attitude toward Israel”.

Although Saudi Arabia managed to acquire 72 of the aircraft in previous years, its 2018 Memorandum of Understanding with the United Kingdom to acquire a further 48 of the jets in a £5 billion ($6.1 billion) sale fell through when Britain and Germany implemented a ban on arms sales to the Kingdom over its human rights record and war in Yemen.

Read: US planning to lift ban on arms sales to Saudi Arabia amid regional escalation

In 2020, the UK then lifted its ban, but Germany maintained it, resulting in lobbying efforts on the part of the British government to urge Berlin to also lift its ban as recently as September.

Last week’s decision by the German government to lift its long-standing suspension of arms sales and allow Saudi Arabia to acquire the 48 Eurofighter jets comes at a time when many fear the potential spread of Israel’s war on Gaza to the wider region, especially as the Houthi rebels in Yemen have been seizing ships heading to the Red Sea and firing missiles toward Israel.

Saudi Arabia has actively intercepted many of those missiles, a fact German Minister Baerbock acknowledged yesterday when she said that “The fact that Saudi Arabia is now intercepting missiles fired by the Houthis at Israel underlines this, and we are grateful for that”.

She also said that the Kingdom’s use of Eurofighter jets in that context “is an open secret”, adding that “Saudi Arabia is a key contributor to Israel’s security, even these days, and is helping to stem the risk of a regional conflagration”.

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