by Stephen Brown
Probably not since the Second World War will the world witness the appearance of so many German battle tanks in a desert setting. But instead of the descendants of Rommel’s Afrika Korps, the tanks will be manned by Saudi military personnel.
That’s because Saudi Arabia will soon become the proud owners of up to 200 German Leopard tanks when the recent $2.5 billion deal negotiated with the German government is finalised. The Leopards the Saudis will receive are the latest model (2A7+) in the German arsenal and the best that country’s robust armaments industry can produce.
The German tank purchase is just part of the $60 billion the Saudi Arabian government has spent on an impressive array of weaponry the past couple of years. The United States has also contributed to this Saudi military build up, as the desert kingdom seeks to protect itself from what it perceives as a threat from Iran. Last year, the Saudi military bought 84 US F-15E two-seater warplanes, a special version, at about $100 million per aircraft.
Getting their hands on the German Leopard has always been a long-held, Saudi desire. In past years, the German government had always turned down Saudi requests to purchase the tank, as they could pose a danger to Israel.