Germany’s Arms Suspension to Saudi Arabia is Shooting the West in the Foot
Merkel said that her country won’t fulfill its contractual commitment to provide the Saudis with hundreds of millions of dollars of arms this year until Riyadh responsibly answers all the questions pertaining to Khashoggi’s killing, which she even termed a “monstrosity” and promised that she’ll pressure her other EU allies to follow suit. For as disturbing as that dissident’s death may be for many, it’s nevertheless an internal affair of the Saudi state despite having taking place abroad because it occurred in the sovereign territory of the country’s consulate and only involved its own citizens. Furthermore, the sale of conventional arms to the Kingdom has nothing to do with this journalist’s killing and appears to be nothing more than a convenient means of pressuring Saudi Arabia into complying with the EU leader’s envisioned political steps for dealing with this public relations crisis.
It’s incredibly ironic that Germany is using weapons sales as an incentive for the stereotypically opaque Saudis to undertake a transparent investigation into Khashoggi’s killing despite the very high likelihood that these same arms could be used for killing many more people throughout the course of the Saudi-led War on Yemen if Merkel is satisfied with the investigation’s findings and lifts her mandated suspension. That’s not to judge Germany or any other country for advancing their interests through “military diplomacy” but just to point out how hypocritical it is that the EU still insists on exporting its so-called “values” when it clearly compromises on them all the time in pursuit of realpolitik. Speaking of which, two can play at that game too, and the Saudis almost assuredly no longer have faith in the reliability of their so-called “Western partners” in the EU after this latest development.
Accordingly, it makes sense that Saudi Arabia would strengthen its ties with Russia in response to Germany’s instrumentalization of weapons shipments for political purposes, as Moscow doesn’t ever place such conditions on any of its partners and is therefore much easier to conduct business with than Berlin. Far from being incentivized to submit to a foreign country’s envisioned “political solution” to Khashoggi’s killing and the potential regime change implications that it could have in Riyadh if Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is convicted in the court of European public opinion for this crime, Saudi Arabia is actually more encouraged than ever before to continue with the diversification of its erstwhile strategic dependency on the West by embracing the likes of Russia and even China in response to the EU’s pressure. As a result, Saudi Arabia might eventually become a more responsible player in the emerging Multipolar World Order.