07/30/2012, 00.00
GERMANY - US - MIDEAST
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Berlin and Washington to sell weapons to Mideast nations to boost Mideast stability

The German government confirms talks are underway to sell tanks to Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The US plans to strengthen Kuwait defence with missile and radar systems. Some experts warn this might harm human rights and increase the power of local dictatorships.

Berlin (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Germany and the United States continue to sell weapons to their allies in the Middle East, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. In recent months, the latter have expressed interest in acquiring more arms, including missiles and tanks worth billions of dollars.

After reports indicated that Qatar wanted to buy 200 Leopard-2 tanks worth 2 billion Euros (US$ 2.5 billion), German government spokesman Georg Streiter today confirmed a statement of interest by the emirate. Last month, Saudi Arabia expressed a similar interest in buying up to 800 Leopard-2 tanks worth 10 billion Euros (US$ 12.5 billion).

As a result, the German government has come under fire with Chancellor Angela Merkel's foreign policy described as two-faced, pro-peace at UN and NATO summits, and pro-war and arms sales to countries that do not respect human rights and religious freedom.

The United States is not doing much different. Last week, the US Defence Department, Pentagon announced plans to sell 60 PAC-3 systems, 20 launching stations, four radar systems and control stations. Last year, it reached a 30-billion-dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

German news weekly Der Spiegel said that Chancellor Merket and her government wanted to sell weapons to key countries in the region to maintain stability and avoid outside troop deployments in cases of conflict like those in Iraq and Syria.

This is part of a broader German strategy to hold back the Iranian threat through strategic alliances with Sunni regimes. However, some wonder what would happen if weapons fell in the wrong hands.

Markus Kaim, a security expert at the Berlin-based German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) has doubts about the strategy.

Selling weapons to totalitarian regimes like that of Saudi Arabia or factions, like those in Syria, could actually increase instability.

In the 1980s, the US outfitted the Taliban in Afghanistan with modern weapons to resist Soviet invaders, only to find themselves with one of the cruellest Islamic regimes in the world.

Western powers, including Germany, sold tanks and other heavy weapons to Indonesia, which used them against West Papua rebels.

The latest example is Saudi Arabia, which sent troops and tanks into neighbouring Bahrain to crush pro-democracy protests.

 

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