German arms exports under scrutiny as Baerbock visits Egypt


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German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is ending her three-day trip to the Middle East with a visit to Cairo on Saturday.

There she will meet with President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and her Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shokry. Germany’s arms sales to Egypt and the UN Climate Change Conference 2022, which Egypt is hosting in November are expected to feature high on the agenda.

Why are arms sales to Egypt controversial? 

Germany’s recently installed coalition government is keen on curbing arms exports to countries outside of the European Union and NATO, with Egypt at the top of that list.

“German arms exports to Egypt and Saudi Arabia must not be allowed, given the problematic policies of both states” Omid Nouripour from Baerbock’s Green party recently told the DPA, citing Egypt’s human rights record.

“There are more than 60,000 political prisoners in Egypt, a double-digit number of prisons have been newly built for this purpose,” said Nouripour.

Earlier this month, 175 European politicians signed a letter calling on the United Nations to take a closer look at human rights in Egypt.

German weapons exports to Egypt hit record high

For three years in a row, Germany has exported more arms to Egypt than to any other country.

Egypt boosted Germany’s weapons exports to record levels in 2021, according to government figures.

Preliminary figures from the Economic Affairs and Climate Action Ministry show that Germany exported arms worth €9.35 billion euros ($10.65 billion) last year — 61% up on 2020.

The previous record was about €8 billion in 2019, with only €5.82 billion worth exported during 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic hit.

On Friday, Baerbock was in Jordan, where she visited a refugee settlement as she called for an expansion of international aid.

Baerbock also pointed to the delicate peace process between Israel and Palestine, and that, as direct neighbors, Jordan and Egypt can play a crucial part.

The 1967 conflict between Israel and an alliance of Arab states, including Jordan, led to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians’ and Syrians’ fleeing or being expelled from the West Bank and the Golan Heights, respectively.

Baerbock is on her first trip to the Middle East as Germany’s foreign minister.

jsi/dj (dpa, AFP)


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