Israel is helping Saudi Arabia overcome the ban and buy Typhoons

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In what appears to be a significant shift in international policy, Germany is changing its stance on arms sales to Saudi Arabia, particularly concerning the sale of Eurofighter Typhoon jets. This intriguing development has been partly attributed to Saudi Arabia’s pivotal role in securing the safety of Israel, as per various reports. 

Photo by David Donald

On January 7, German Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock, informed the world of Germany’s readiness to authorize the sale of Typhoon jets to Saudi Arabia. 

During her visit to Israel, Baerbock accentuated the collaborative authority held by Germany, Britain, Italy, and Spain – the countries involved in the cooperative production of the Typhoon. Each of these nations wields the power to veto such arms transactions if needed. 

This surprising revelation follows Berlin’s consistent resistance to the proposed arms deal since 2018, driven by Germany’s concern over the unsettling murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. 

Baerbock, during her diplomatic tour, shed light on Saudi Arabia’s instrumental role in addressing the ongoing security crisis in the Middle Eastern region, especially in the wake of the troubling Israel-Hamas conflict that began on October 7.  

She recognized that Saudi Arabia and Israel have remained steadfast in their commitment to easing tensions, notwithstanding the surrounding conflict scenario. 

Photo credit: Krasimir Grozev

Highlighting Saudi Arabia’s significant role in safeguarding Israel’s security, Baerbock saluted the kingdom’s persistent efforts in curbing the threats of a potential regional outbreak. 

She extolled Saudi Arabia’s proactive actions in intercepting projectiles fired by the Houthis at Israel, adding that it openly deployed Typhoon jets provided by the Saudi air force in doing so. 

Describing it as an “open secret”, Baerbock drew attention to how Riyadh’s deployment of the Eurofighter jets symbolizes its commitment to fostering a brighter, more peaceful future in the Middle East region.  

Photo credit: Pixabay

In other news, Germany’s change of heart regarding arms sales, specifically the potential sanctioning for the sale of Eurofighter jets, spells good news for aviation manufacturer Airbus. The company had been vocal in its criticism of Berlin’s former hesitancy to proceed with further sales of the Eurofighter. 

This strategic shift also favors Britain’s BAE Systems, which has a lucrative contract for assembling parts of the Typhoon jet at its Lancashire production facility.

Why is Germany opposed?

Arms exports to Saudi Arabia remain a topic of heated debate, stemming from concerns over the kingdom’s human rights record and its role in regional conflicts as a burgeoning military force. 

In July 2023, Chancellor Olaf Scholz stated his government’s disapproval of any foreseeable Eurofighter exports to Saudi Arabia. This decision stemmed from a tripartite agreement within the governing coalition to withhold weapons supply to countries implicated in the Yemen conflict. Accordingly, Germany impeded a proposed British sale of an additional 48 Eurofighter Typhoons to Saudi Arabia. 

But notably, Germany’s resistance to this arms deal has spurred Saudi Arabia into negotiations with Dassault Aviation to procure their Rafale fighters from France instead. Yet, recent remarks from the German Foreign Minister hint at a potential shift in Berlin’s hardline stance with the possibility of approving the Eurofighter sale. 

Fresh off the surprise attack on Israel by Hamas, defense analysts highlight the need to equip Saudi Arabia with the necessary armament to deflect missiles fired by Iran-backed groups, thus preventing them from reaching Israel. 

In a thought-provoking feature, defense experts Bradley Bowman and Ryan Brobst maintain that a more proactively fortified Saudi missile defense could significantly ease Israel’s strain in warding off these assaults. 

Such a proactively defensive measure could prove pivotal if Israel were to face an intensified conflict with Hezbollah in parallel to its ongoing struggle with Hamas, with both factions standing in opposition to the Saudi government, the experts added.  

In actively shielding its airspace from potential Iranian proxy incursions, Saudi Arabia, intentionally or not, lends a helping hand to Israel, highlighting mutual interests between the two nations. 

Yet, the green light for Eurofighter sales continues to meet resistance domestically. Immediately following Baerbock’s statement, fellow Greens party co-leader Ricarda Lang voiced her opposition. 

Despite acknowledging Saudi Arabia’s support for Israel in the aftermath of the Hamas-initiated surprise attacks, Lang continued to point to ongoing human rights concerns within Saudi Arabia as the primary reason for her squad’s resistance to the Eurofighter sale. 

Similarly, Greens MP Jamila Schäfer has raised serious concerns around prospective arms sales to Saudi Arabia, singling out the kingdom’s human rights abuses and its role in the Yemen conflict. She fears the potential mishandling and misuse of weapons, which could contravene international law.

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