While the rest of the world is devolving into proxy, or even outright warfare, one nation is profiting handsomely. Germany’s ammunition exports skyrocketed in the first half of 2016, a leaked report has revealed according to Germany’s Deutsche Welle. And ironically Turkey, a country whose political relationship with Germany has deteriorated sharply over the past year – if only for popular consumption – and is currently suppressing its political opposition, has moved up the list of the country’s best customers.
As DW reports, the German government has allowed the country’s gun-makers to sell even more ammunition around the world in the first half of 2016, according to an arms export report leaked to the DPA news agency and due to be discussed in a cabinet meeting on Wednesday. The sales of small arms themselves have fallen slightly, from 12.4 million euros ($13.5 million) to 11.6 million euros, but the approved ammunition sales rose from 27 million euros to 283.8 million euros.
This broke down into 275 million euros worth of sales to EU, NATO, and NATO-allied countries (Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Switzerland) as well as some 5.4 million euros to Iraq. The three biggest single customers were France, Poland, and Iraq, where Germany is supporting the Kurdish fighters in their battle against “Islamic State.”
Think of it as a razor-razorblade model, just far more deadly.
Sebastian Schulte, defence analyst and Germany correspondent for military magazine “Jane’s Defense Weekly,” said the increase in ammunition was not particularly surprising, given the intensification of the battles in Syria and northern Iraq. “The coalition is at the gates of Mosul, they’re going through a lot of ammunition, and Germany has decided to support the coalition – notably the Kurds,” he told DW. “You can go through several barrels of ammo for a machine gun in a day. That is quite normal.”
Not only that, Germany is probably also sending a lot of ammunition to Turkey, he speculates: “And as you know, Turkey is also highly involved both in Syria and in anti-IS operations.” As Schulte explained, Germany’s assault rifle ammunition is designed to be used in several different guns across NATO armies – though not in older guns like the Soviet-designed Kalashnikov or the 1960s era German machine gun, the G3.
What Schulte did not comment on is that it almost appears that German’s interests are alligned with those of the US, to perpetuate a state of warfare in Syria and Iraq. After all, while weapons purchases ultimately plateau, the need for ammunition if virtually infinite.
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The arms export report also revealed that Turkey has become a better weapons customer in the last few years: moving up from 25th place to 8th place since the beginning of the refugee crisis. Two-thirds of these sales came in plane parts, unmanned drones, and other military equipment. South Korea is also buying more from Germany, thanks to escalating tension with its northern neighbor, and has bought 205 million euros worth of military equipment, including military ships, submarine and helicopter parts, missiles and missile defense systems.
But few are as good or steady clients of Germany as the biggest sponsor state of terrorism around the globe, Saudi Arabia which remains Germany’s third-biggest buyer, increasing its purchases from 179 million euros in the first half of 2015 to 484 million euros, while the United Arab Emirates almost doubled its purchases from Germany from 46 million euros to 85 million euros.
In top spot, somewhat surprisingly, and the best individual customer in the first half of 2016, was Algeria buying 1.04 billion euros of German military equipment, closely followed by the US, who bought 914 million euros’ worth.
Meanwhile, Germany’s faux pacifism has once again been exposed. Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, who as economy minister is responsible for Germany’s arms sales, has promised to reduce Germany’s exports of small arms, which are by far the biggest cause of deaths in conflicts around the round the world.
Alas, it was easier said than done. At the start of July, it was revealed that the value of Germany’s total arms sales had doubled from 2014 to 2015 (from 3.97 billion euros to 7.86 billion euros) – something that the Social Democratic Party leader blamed on a few major individual sales that had been agreed before his tenure. But Germany’s anti-arms activists would not accept this excuse, saying that the German government always has the power to cancel deals.
Tuesday’s report appears to show Gabriel breaking his promise again, angering the Left party’s arms export spokesman Jan van Aken: “We need clear legal bans, and first and foremost an immediate ban on small arms exports,” he told DPA. The Green party’s Agnieszka Brugger was equally outraged by the latest figures, tweeting: “The government is throwing its own strict export guidelines in the garbage bin. No sense of responsibility!”
Yes, well, while outraged and disguasted German pacificst tweet, the German weapons industry is set to enjoy another blockbuster year thanks to what has been an unprecedented outbreak of conflict and near-war around the globe. Which should help least answer the first and foremost question any time a conflict breaks out anywhere: qui bono. And since demand for weapons and ammo transcends such trivial limitations and FX exchange rates, once German arms makers have hooked enough foreign “clients”, even a spike in the Euro – should the ECB eventually taper its QE – would not result in a notable loss in future revenue.