Germany to Train Saudi Soldiers Despite Riyadh’s Years-Long Deadly War in Yemen
Five Saudi servicemen are slated to begin training with the German Army and two more with the German Air Force in July, DPA reported, citing the Federal Ministry of Defense.
Local media previously wrote that the soldiers were undergoing language courses in Hamburg before commencing lengthy officer training.
According to the same report, seven more Saudi soldiers are scheduled to take language courses in preparation for military training in Germany in 2020. The program was made possible after Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen paid a visit to Riyadh in 2016.
The news comes despite the fact that Saudi Arabia had been leading a deadly bombing campaign in civil war-torn Yemen, which led to a humanitarian crisis on the ground the UN called the “worst in the world”.
A state lawmaker for the opposition Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, Christian Blex, blasted both Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas for helping to build up the Saudi military when its soldiers and airmen are participating in war in its neighboring country.
“In Yemen, where the Saudis and the US have been waging a war since 2015, a child dies every 10 minutes, according to the UNICEF,” he wrote on Twitter, adding, “Anyone with their hand in the game is a disgrace.”
World humanitarian organizations have been sounding the alarm of the heavy death toll in Yemen since Saudi Arabia launched its armed intervention four years ago. Yet, Berlin banned weapon sales to Riyadh only last October – in response to the death of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey.
A recently-published UN-commissioned study, meanwhile, projects that the number of war-related deaths in Yemen will reach 233,000 by the end of this year. This encompasses the people killed in relentless airstrikes and fighting on the ground and the ones who died from the outbreaks of diseases and widespread malnutrition, exacerbated by the Saudi blockade of the nation’s ports.