Germany is ready to lift the ban on further deliveries of Eurofighters to Saudi Arabia.
Berlin is prepared to allow further deliveries of Eurofighter jets to Saudi Arabia, lifting a ban that has been in place since 2018, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Sunday.
According to the Financial Times, her position is backed by Robert Habeck, economy minister and deputy chancellor, and a fellow Green who acknowledged that the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia “still doesn’t meet our standards” and was “still ambivalent”. But “Saudi Arabian defensive missiles are also protecting Israel”.
A memorandum of intent was signed in 2018 for the potential purchase of 48 additional Eurofighters, but Germany vetoed the export of the multirole aircraft to Ryiad following the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018 and as form of protest against Saudi Arabia’s role in the war in Yemen.
The Eurofighter consortium includes the UK, Italy, Germany and Spain, each of whom can veto an export sale. The possibility for a consortium partner to veto a sale applies to both newly built and second hand aircraft.
According to British and German media, the UK even considered using a legal clause that could temporarily force Germany out of the Eurofighter program, but abandoned the idea to avoid damaging defense and industry relationships.
However, the scenario in the region has completely changed since Oct. 7, following the attack on Israel by Hamas. In fact, Saudi Arabia intercepted Houthi rebels’ cruise missiles fired toward Israel, a move that proved the kingdom was helping defending Israel, also preventing the escalation of the conflict. “For that reason we don’t see why we as the German government should oppose the British thinking on more Eurofighters for Saudi Arabia,” Baerbock said after talks with Israeli president Yitzhak Herzog.
While the ban may have been theoretically lifted, at least in the public statements, the actual delivery is still far from really happening. It might take years before the aircraft can be provided to Riyahd: the situation can still change, especially considering that arms exports to Saudi Arabia are quite controversial in Germany; moreover, the delivery would still require the approval of Germany’s federal security council.