The EU countries’ demand for the suspension of arms deals with Saudi Arabia has increased, following the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi national and columnist for the Washington Post, was last seen entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.
After weeks of denying involvement in his disappearance, Saudi Arabia on Saturday announced that he died in a fight inside the consulate.
World leaders have called on the Saudi government to provide more concrete answers on his killing amid a global outcry.
EU High Representative Federica Mogherini said: “European Union, like its partners, insists on the need for continued thorough, credible and transparent investigation, shedding proper clarity on the circumstances of the killing and ensuring full accountability of all those responsible for it.”
On Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced Germany would stop arms exports to Saudi Arabia amid doubts over Riyadh’s explanation on the killing of Khashoggi.
Merkel demanded urgent clarification on Khashoggi’s killing, saying: “As far as arms exports are concerned, those can’t take place in the current conditions.”
Following Merkel’s remarks, the country’s Foreign Minister Heiko Mass said they are not going to take a positive step towards the exports unless the details about the journalist’s death are revealed.
German Vice Chancellor and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz and Economy and Energy Minister Peter Altmaier also backed the government decision to halt the arms exports.
Stopping arms export to Riyadh was also on the agenda of France. But the President Emmanuel Macron defended that Saudi Arabia was an important customer in arms sale.
Strong call from British opposition
In the U.K., -- the country that topped the list of the EU countries in terms of exporting arms to Saudi Arabia -- the opposition called on the government to suspend arms sales to the kingdom.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said he was pleased because the prime minister had condemned the “horrific murder” of Khashoggi, urging a suspension of arms sales to the kingdom.
Labour Party’s shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry called the killing a “disgraceful murder” and said the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman “takes his allies for fools,” mentioning some of the alleged crimes attributed to him.
“The government must wake up to the reality of who the crown prince really is,” Thornberry said, criticizing Prime Minister Theresa May for “rolling out the red carpet” for the prince.
Calling on the U.K. government to use the Magnitsky powers for anyone involved in the murder, including those who ordered it, she asked for financial penalties on those responsible and the suspension of U.K.'s sales of arms to Saudi Arabia.
Scottish National Party leader in Westminster Ian Blackford also called on May to take action against Saudi Arabia.
“Stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia and do it today,” he said.
Spain’s far-left Unidos Podemos party also called on the country and EU members to stop arms sales.
Belgium should take Germany as an example and stop the selling of weapons to Saudi Arabia, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said.
“The arm export decision was taken by the regional parliaments, therefore, they don’t have authority other than to advise. We shouldn’t hide behind the EU. We should take Germany as an example and stop the arms sales to Saudi Arabia,” De Croo said.
Arms trade with Riyadh
Saudi Arabia is the U.S.’s main weapon buyer. According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the data shows Riyadh made up 18 percent of total U.S. arms sales during 2013-2017 period.
Meanwhile, the European countries also exported arms to the country in the same period.
According to 2013-2017 figures of SIPRI, U.K., as an EU member, makes 48.8 percent of its total arms exports to Saudi Arabia.
Belgium (32 percent), Sweden (12.8), Slovakia (11.8), Spain (8.3), Austria (7.7), Italy (6.3), Finland (5.8), France (5.5), Bulgaria (5.4), Germany (3.1) and the Netherlands (2.4) follow the U.K.
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