Germany’s Arms Trade With Saudi Arabia Is Back

An Iris-T missile defense system stands on the Diehl Defence premises in Überlingen.
Christoph Schmidt/picture alliance via Getty Images

Germany’s Arms Trade With Saudi Arabia Is Back

Hamas’s invasion of Israel on October 7 revived a budding military alliance.

It was called the “Merkel Doctrine.” Germany’s policy of establishing military alliances through arms deals across the Middle East was so fundamental to former Chancellor Angela Merkel’s foreign policy it became a signature policy.

From 2014 to 2017, Germany exported more weapons than ever before, overlooking the decade-long restriction on selling weapons to conflict zones. Saudi Arabia was one of the most important destinations for German weapons, buying $1.6 billion worth of German weapons in 2012.

Yet the relationship with Saudi Arabia came to an abrupt end in 2018. The German government banned arms sales to all countries involved in the Yemeni civil war, with some exceptions. Then the Saudi government murdered journalist Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi. People around the world were outraged. Germany banned all sales to Saudi Arabia.

Now, because of the events of Oct. 7, 2023, German arms sales to Saudi Arabia are back.

The Middle East Has Become ‘a Completely Different Place’

Rumors spread in 2022 that Germany would lift the ban on arms sales, but nothing much happened. Germany began shifting its stance last summer, agreeing to sell weapons “in specific individual cases” where they would not be used in Yemen or in any human-rights violations.

The Saudis were unimpressed. Germany still refused to sell the big weapons they wanted. Saudi Arabia already has 72 Eurofighter jets and had agreed to buy 50 more. Germany blocked the deal for years. When announcing limited weapons sales, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz made clear that Germany would not sell any fighter jets “for the foreseeable future.”

Last week, that changed. “The world, especially here in the Middle East, has become a completely different place since October 7,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said as she announced that Germany was dropping its ban. A government spokesman praised Saudi Arabia’s “very constructive attitude toward Israel.”

Emphasizing that this was not a one-off instance, but a complete reversal of policy, a new deal was soon confirmed. Germany would sell Saudi Arabia 150 Iris-T air-to-air missiles, which can shoot down drones, missiles and other aircraft.

With the Green and Social Democratic parties in power, in theory this is Germany’s most pacifist government in decades. Yet even they are approving the sales.

Iran’s attack on international shipping through its Houthi proxies played a major role in this decision. Government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said these are the exact weapons systems the Saudis are using to shoot down Houthi missiles.

Going Their Own Way

The United States is trying to deal with the Houthis through Operation Prosperity Guardian. European powers are conspicuously absent from this international coalition. France and Italy sent warships to the area but refused to join the U.S. mission. “There is no subordination to the American partner,” said Rear Adm. Emmanuel Slaars, joint commander of the French forces in the region. Spain’s Defense Ministry offered to support a mission led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or the European Union—but not one led by the U.S.

Germany hasn’t done much to help, but the Bundestag’s defense committee chairwoman, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, said sending German warships “under EU leadership” is “indeed conceivable.”

EU leaders are currently discussing a potential mission, which would include the German frigate Hessen, with a decision expected in February.

The Netherlands was one of the rare European powers to join the U.S. mission; it sent two staff officers. Denmark and Greece are sending one ship each.

Europe depends on Red Sea trade. But it’s no longer willing to play second fiddle to the U.S. Saudi Arabia was also absent from the list of those supporting the mission—though 10 countries are involved anonymously.

With these kinds of arms sales, are Germany and Saudi Arabia creating their own alliance to deal with the problem?

If the situation gets worse, perhaps Europe will swallow its pride and work with America. But their unwillingness so far shows their determination to not work with America.

An Overlooked Effect

In our January 2024 Trumpet cover article, editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote that “of all the developments since that horrible terrorist attack, the most important one is being overlooked completely by most people.”

“The most shocking problem in the Middle East,” he continued, “is not what is happening in Gaza but what is happening with Germany. … Few realize it, but Germany is rising mightily in this region. This development is accelerating the fulfillment of some crucial biblical prophecies!”

The resumption of Germany’s relationship with Saudi Arabia is one example of this.

Daniel 11 prophesies of an end-time clash between “the king of the north” and “the king of the south.” Our free booklet The King of the South shows this is a fight between a German-led Europe and radical Islam, led by Iran.

Psalm 83 adds some detail to this prophecy. It describes an alliance of nations never before seen in history. It includes Assyria—Germany in Bible prophecy—and the descendants of Ishmael—the Arabs, including Saudi Arabia.

Watch for Germany to resume the “Merkel Doctrine” using arms sales to build alliances and influence throughout the region. Prophecies in this region are quickly being fulfilled. To ensure you understand them, read The King of the South.