Berlin has reportedly given the green light for 200 Leopard 2A7+ battle tanks to be sold to Saudi Arabia. Critics call the planned delivery of the tanks tailored for urban warfare a breach of arms trade guidelines. The deal, unofficially announced by sources in both Berlin and Riyadh, was approved in principle by Germany’s Security Council last week, according to media reports. The US and Israel have been informed and did not voice any objections, says Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

The Leopard 2A7+ is one of the latest versions of the tank, which was first shown to the public in 2010. It has improved protection from rocket-propelled grenades and landmines and increased maneuverability to be better suited for urban combat.

While the German government did not officially confirm the reports, the news has provoked much criticism from both the opposition and members of the ruling coalition.

Critics say the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia goes against long-standing principles of not supplying advanced weapons to autocratic regimes.

"Such decisions cannot be taken at a time when people are fighting for democracy in the Arab world," the Green party’s parliamentary leader Juergen Trittin told ARD television on Tuesday.

There is concern that the multi-billion euro deal may damage the already conflict-ridden region.

"The government’s readiness to sell 200 modern German tanks at a time of tension in the Middle East and the Arab peninsula denotes a frightening lack of judgment," the social-democrat parliamentary deputy leader Gernot Erler told Welt newspaper.

Social Democratic Party Secretary General Andrea Nahles went as far as accusing Angela Merkel’s cabinet of hypocrisy. Nahles says it supports public uprising in countries like Egypt and Tunisia while selling arms to Saudi Arabia, which has a poor human rights record and had only recently helped suppress a protest movement in the neighboring gulf state of Bahrain.

The exact terms of the future contract are yet to be settled.

Source: RT