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Germany extends Saudi arms sales embargo by 6 months

Germany has extended by six months a weapons export freeze against Saudi Arabia imposed a year ago over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Deliveries will be halted until the end of March 2020 and no new defense contracts approved to Saudi Arabia and other countries involved in the Yemen war, a government spokesperson said on Wednesday, September 18.

Calls have grown from within Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party for the ban to be lifted after drone strikes on Saudi oil installations, but the German leader on Tuesday said she saw “no need” for her government to reverse the policy at this point.

Germany has also faced protests by France and other European Union partners because the ban has impacted joint defense projects such as the £10 billion sale of 48 Eurofighter Typhoon jets to Saudi Arabia led by the U.K.’s BAE Systems.

Germany is among the world’s top arms exporters, a group led by the United States that also includes Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom.

Merkel’s coalition government in October 2018 imposed a first six-month arms embargo on Saudi Arabia, amid shock over Khashoggi’s murder.

The 59-year-old Saudi palace insider turned regime critic was strangled and his body cut into pieces by a 15-strong Saudi hit squad inside the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkish officials say.

Saudi Arabia launched military operations in impoverished Yemen in 2015 to help the government of Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi push back against Iran-aligned Houthi rebels.

Yemen’s conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, and triggered what the UN describes as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the major drone and missile attack on key Saudi oil installations last Saturday.

However, U.S. officials have cast doubt on that claim, and Saudi Arabia said it would soon unveil evidence linking regional foe Iran to the attacks.

UN details Yemen war crimes, warns US, UK, France, Iran of complicity

With reporting from AFP

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