Saudi Arabia: this European country ready to relaunch the sale of fighters


The debate over the sale of Eurofighter fighter jets to Saudi Arabia has reached a new turning point, marking a turnaround in the German position. Since the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, blamed on the Saudi authorities, Germany had frozen arms sales to Riyadh, including a major contract for 48 Eurofighter Typhoons. However, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock announced an openness to new Eurofighter sales to Saudi Arabia.

This development represents a significant shift in German policy, previously firm on the embargo of arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Annalena Baerbock underlined during a trip to Israel the constructive role that Riyadh would have played in resolving the security crisis in the Middle East, particularly following the attack by Palestinian Hamas against Israel on October 7.

Germany, a stakeholder in the Eurofighter program with the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain, also admitted the use of Eurofighters by the Saudi Air Force, constituting widely known information despite the freezing of sales. Baerbock emphasized Saudi Arabia’s crucial support for Israel’s security, including helping to limit the risks of regional conflicts.

This German decision, in contrast to previous years, has sparked tensions with European partners, particularly the British and French. Initially anchored in coalition politics, this position had been maintained for ethical reasons, also highlighting Saudi Arabia’s role in the conflict in Yemen, a major concern for environmentalists within the government.

However, the recent evolution of the context in the Middle East has led Annalena Baerbock to justify this change of position, highlighting the transformation of realities since October 7. Despite this openness, internal criticism was raised, calling into question Germany’s credibility, notably expressed by Guillaume Faury, president of Airbus, considering that the freeze on arms sales tarnished the relationship of trust with international partners.

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