SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Saudi Arabia hopes to ink a deal with the German government that will send between 600 and 800 tanks to the ultra-conservative Gulf Kingdom ahead of Ramadan, which begins in late July.
The Gulf country is attempting to purchase the Leopard battle tanks from Germany, but is asking for twice the previous agreement expected, a Germany newspaper reported on Sunday.
A deal for around 300 tanks had been about to be signed, the Bild am Sonntag newspaper said.
The newspaper said that while there was opposition to the deal in Germany’s Chancellery, Foreign Ministry and Defense Ministry, there was support for it within the Economy Ministry.
“The Saudi order could secure the future of German tank-makers Krauss-Maffei Wegman and Rheinmetall, which urgently need new markets because of the restructuring of the German army,” said Bild am Sonntag.
Germany’s government has not yet commented on the new push by Saudi for the tanks.
Last year, Germany denied reports that it had agreed to export 270 Leopard tanks to Saudi Arabia. Exports of military equipment cannot be officially acknowledged as they are confidential and disclosure is punishable by a fine or jail.
Germany has refrained from exporting heavy weapons to Gulf states in the past, given its close relationship with Israel and more recently because of the ongoing tension in the region, which has seen Saudi bolstered the Bahraini government despite protests calling for democracy and change in the country. —www.shafaqna.com