Riyadh, Saudi Arabia—German arms exports to Saudi Arabia and Egypt have increased five-fold in 2017.

In the third quarter of 2017 alone, the German government has approved around $530 million worth of arms sales.  In the same quarter of last year, the number of weapons sold was a mere $101 million, less than five times the current figure.

Egypt came first with $353 million, which makes President Sisi’s country the number one recipient of German armaments.  Saudi Arabia followed with $177 million.

The numbers were disclosed by the German Economy Ministry only after left-wing MP Stefan Liebich requested them.  Therefore, no details on the types of weapons sold are known.  However, they most likely include four patrol boats and 110 military supply trucks to Saudi Arabia that the Defence Ministry had announced, without a price tag, during the summer.  The specific weapon systems sold to Egypt remain unclear.

Interestingly enough, in 2015 the German government had ceased arms exports to Saudi Arabia over the humanitarian cost of the Yemeni conflict.

“The sum of the approval values in a reporting period alone is no adequate measure for a specific arms export policy. What needs to be taken into account much more are the kinds of goods and their respective purpose,” said a German Government spokesperson in defence of the swelled numbers.

“My counterargument is that if there are new approvals, there is still always the opportunity to say no,” said Liebich in response. “That can mean you have to pay fees for breaking contracts — but then that’s the way it is.”

Hitherto, the conflict in Yemen has claimed more than 10,000 lives.  More alarmingly, however, has been the humanitarian crisis caused by the Saudi-led military intervention.  The United Nations (UN) and other international organizations have recently warned that close to 24 million people out of Yemen’s population 27 million face starvation because of the war.