German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration has been increasing its arms sales to the Middle East. And particularly to what was characterized as “dictatorships” in both Egypt and Saudi Arabia. This has brought a wave of criticism leveled at Merkel from the left with one opposition lawmaker calling the practice “reprehensible.”

The German government’s arms sales have increased nearly five times from what they sold in the third quarter of 2016. Merkel’s administration approved nearly €450 million ($526 million) of weapons exports to Saudi Arabia and Egypt in the third quarter of 2017. During the same time period last year, arms sales were €86 million.

Opposition Left Party’s  Stefan Liebich criticized the government’s exports to both countries as “particularly reprehensible.”

Saudi Arabia and Egypt have “to answer for the thousands of deaths from their dirty war in Yemen,” he said, referring to the ongoing civil war between Houthi rebels and Yemen’s government.

The Saudi-led coalition military intervention in Yemen has led to the death of nearly 10,000 people and created the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis in one of the Arab world’s poorest state. Human rights organizations have said the Saudi-led coalition may have commmitted war crimes, and the UN has warned some 7 million people face possible famine.

As Liebich pointed out, Germany’s policies used to be more restrictive. “There were times when it was completely ruled out for Germany to deliver weapons to countries that were participating in wars,” he said. “That only changed in the last two governments. It started with Turkey, which was sold weapons despite its war with the Kurds — that was a controversial discussion at the time.”

The problem now lies with the working coalition inside the government coming to a new agreement concerning arms sales. While many on the left want arms sales curtailed, others such as the Christian Social Union will want to protect and build up the arms industries in Bavaria.

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