The Merkel Doctrine: Tank Exports to Saudi Arabian Signal German Policy Shift - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International
One woman and 14 men were with Merkel at the table, gathered for a session of the Federal Security Council. In the next hour and a half, they would reach an historic decision, approving the delivery of more than 200 of Germany’s most modern tank, the “Leopard” 2A7+ model, to Saudi Arabia. This would be the first time Germany supplied heavy arms to an Arab government that has declared its intentions to fight its opponents “with an iron fist,” a country that deployed tanks against demonstrators in a neighboring country and ranks 160th on the Economist’s Democracy Index, just a few spots above North Korea, which holds the very bottom spot.
The decision Merkel and her key ministers reached here in the Small Cabinet Room broke a German taboo, and broke with the decisions of previous governments in Berlin not to supply heavy arms equipment to Saudi Arabia as a matter of principle. It also marked a paradigm shift in German foreign policy.
But Merkel broke with the established policy and overturned Genscher’s principle. Despite some misgivings, she determined it to be acceptable to deliver weapons wherever doing so best serves Germany’s geopolitical and economic interests.