Saudi arms deal approval retracted

Saudi arms deal approval retracted

The Parliament’s arms committee decided on Friday to retract its previous approvals for the controversial sale of missiles and bombs to Saudi Arabia. 

The decision, which is nonbinding, was taken after an initiative by ruling SYRIZA in what was seen as a bid to extract the coalition government from an arms deal that opposition New Democracy has dubbed a “scandal.” 

Conservative lawmakers abstained from the vote, charging that the procedure was a pretense to exonerate the government and Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, who is at the heart of the controversy as he is accused by the opposition of concluding the deal illegally. 

“The procedure that we were invited to attend was a pretense. We will not take part in a badly staged theater [performance],” said ND lawmaker Konstantinos Tasoulas. 

The meeting, which was described as “confidential,” was attended by Kammenos, who said that he shared the concerns raised by SYRIZA lawmakers, and Nikos Filis in particular. 

The SYRIZA MPs had cited three recent votes in European Parliament on the need for the imposition of an embargo on Saudi Arabia because of its involvement in the war in Yemen. 

Kammenos, who is also the leader of the junior coalition partner Independent Greeks (ANEL), reportedly said that the deal for the armaments has essentially not been activated, since it has not been officially signed. 

In order for the deal to be officially canceled a decision is needed from the Council on Foreign Policy and Defense (KYSEA). 

However, the acrimony surrounding the issue did not subside on Friday, with New Democracy reiterating its call for all individuals involved in the deal to appear before the committee and describe the procedures that led to it.