German arms export jump triggers accusations of policy failure
By Madeline Chambers
BERLIN, July 6 (Reuters) - The German government was criticised on Wednesday for overseeing a doubling of arms exports last year which detractors say shows a two-year-old policy aimed at curbing sales of weapons to volatile regions has failed.
Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet approved the economy ministry's annual arms report, which confirmed figures leaked over the weekend that the government waved through 7.86 billion euros worth of sales in 2015, twice the previous year's level.
The main target of criticism was Sigmar Gabriel, the Social Democrat (SPD) economy minister who made much of bringing in tighter rules in 2014 to limit arms sales to the Middle East and in particular states such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
In the report, Gabriel's ministry pointed to several big one-off sales, including a 1.6 billion euro sale to Qatar of fighter tanks and tank howitzers and accompanying parts.
"Sigmar Gabriel has broken his promise to better control arms exports," said Jan van Aken of the radical Left party.
Renke Brahms of the EKD Evangelical Church council said the numbers were a "scandal", homing in on sales to Saudi and Qatar.
"The human rights situation in these Arab countries is bad and Saudi Arabia contributes to a lack of peace in the Gulf region," said Brahms.
Some 41 percent of sales went to EU or NATO states, such as a 1.1 billion euro sale of refuelling aircraft to Britain. Continuación...