Thursday, 5 January 2012

German Tank Treads to Crush Arab Dissent

It seems Angela Merkel is looking to boost the waning German (and by extension the rest of Europes) economies by signing some lucrative arms export contracts to the lifelong friends of both the West and Middle East moderates and Democracy Saudi Arabia.

A petition by Avaaz to stop this appalling attempt to make a quick euro.

"While brave people across the Arab world oust dictators, Merkel is about to supply Saudi despots with powerful Leopard battle tanks, optimized for clearing crowds and fighting protesters in urban areas – unless public pressure can stop the plan.

Germany is not legally allowed to send weapons of war to crisis regions, and certainly not to Saudi Arabia, which sends tanks to crush democracy protests in Bahrain. But Merkel is about to cave to the powerful arms lobby -- a decision that split the government, pitting her against ministers and CDU leaders. Our outcry now can drown out arms dealers and stop this deal."

Emphasis mine.

The Tank in question:

"the Leopard 2, was first produced in 1979 and is in service with the armies of Austria, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain and Turkey, with over 3,200 produced.

A new smoothbore gun, the 120mm L55 Gun, was developed by Rheinmetall Waffe Munition of Ratingen, Germany to replace the shorter 120mm L44 smoothbore tankgun on the Leopard 2. The extension of the barrel length from calibre length 44 to calibre length 55 results in a greater portion of the available energy in the barrel being converted into projectile velocity increasing the range and armour penetration.

The L55 smoothbore gun, equipped with a thermal sleeve, a fume extractor and a muzzle reference system, is compatible with current 120mm ammunition and new high penetration ammunition.

As a result of tactical requirements Rheinmetall Waffe Munition developed the improved kinetic energy ammunition known as LKE 2 DM53. With the DM53 round the L55 gun can fire to a range of 5,000m. The effect of the kinetic energy projectile on an enemy target is achieved by 1) the penetrator length and projectile mass and the impact velocity and 2) the interaction between the projectile and the target."

Should you for some reason doubt the Saudi Monarchies enthusiasm for relying on force to crush dissent (then you really do need to look up the Kingdom) then allow me to remind you of another oft overshadowed sideshow in the Arab Spring Bahrain. Bahrain quickly followed the lead of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen and so mass protests against its Monarch and the legal discrimination of its majority Shia population(1) Bahrain despite its small size was and is a flashpoint in Middle Eastern tensions the US 5th Fleet is based there, the population is majority Shia, and there's this curious belief in the middle east and the US government that all Shia must be fifth columnists for Iran. And of course the Monarchy is Sunni and the government as well as the wealthy elite are made up of Sunni's who have very close ties to Saudi Arabia run by a Sunni Arab family very paranoid of the Shia Persians in Tehran "Cut the Head off the Serpent". Because of that they leapt at the change to send military and police units to Bahrain and involved themselves in violent clashes with the protesters.

Yes this is an American Abrams being piloted by a Saudi Tank crew.

Now Saudi Arabia already has extensive contracts with Western arms companies giving them access to a lot of expensive toyssee here. Its good to know the government and business elites in the "civilised" western world care so much about the principles of free speech and the right to protest.

Now stopping the sale of Leopard Tanks won't touch the paint on the weapons systems they already have, it is a step in the right direction. And given that the only armoured vehicles the Saudi state military has produced for itself aren't exactly on an even footing with BAE or Lockheed Martin. So cutting them off from there foreign toys would be a very useful goal to give the Saudi people some breathing room to decide for themselves what to do about there government.

The Panhard AML-60/90 and this was originally French.

The Al-Fahd

I mean despite being ugly those two are perfectly capable of dishing out violence, but its not on the same scale as the latest model Abrams, Challenger or T90, and there absence from the streets of Riyadh would show the regime is isolated and not as capable as it once was to lash out.

1: Unless you count the migrant workers which Bahrain like other Gulf States has in vast quantities as a source of cheap labour.


  1. I will not dispute the fact that the regime in Bhrain is corrupt and must be changed. However, it is only the Shi'ites who are protesting upon request from Iran. Their only goal is to take over Bahrain, kick the Sunnis out, and turn this island into an Iranian military base to threaten the rest of the Sunni countries of the region. I can not put it more simply than that.

  2. "I will not dispute the fact that the regime in Bhrain is corrupt and must be changed." Good a shame you don't bother to provide us with an alternative. Sadly the absence of which makes your opening concession entirely worthless.

    "However, it is only the Shi'ites who are protesting upon request from Iran." Err proof please? I'm sorry but what you're advocating is the old and long discredited belief that dissent is only caused by a small determined band of professional rabble rouser's often working for outside powers just because they seem to share similarities or have a shared enemy. This was first discredited in 1848 then revived in the Cold War and discredited again in the 90's.

    Its also quite odd that you would say such a thing (again with no evidence) when your opening sentence admits the current government is "corrupt and must be changed" surely that implies that it is the government itself that is to blame for the alienation and discontent that its Shia population feel?

    "Their only goal is to take over Bahrain," Well they are the Majority population not including the migrant labourers so by rights they should be the dominant group in the nations politics.

    "kick the Sunnis out," Err proof? Because as we all know there are no Sunni's in Iran, oh wait there are.

    "and turn this island into an Iranian military base to threaten the rest of the Sunni countries of the region." How? the Iranian Navy is too small and outdated to challenge the US fleet presence that even if Bahrain did openly embrace the Ayatollah's of Tehran would just be relocated to another Arab ally. Without a strong enough fleet Iran can't project its military, and without the ability to project its force having additional military bases are useless. There missiles are already capable of reaching there enemies so deploying them to Bahrain wouldn't have any tactical use, it would also be difficult to do with the US Navy still in the area.

    "I can not put it more simply than that." Indeed unfortunately the simplest statements are often wrong as your comment demonstrates.


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