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Parliament com’t offers govt more ‘political cover’ to formally scrap munitions deal to Saudi Arabia

A relevant Parliament committee on Friday provided more “political cover” for the Tsipras government to officially cancel an already foiled deal to sell Saudi Arabia surplus munitions from Greek military stocks, with the former withdrawing a previous favorable recommendation.

The decision, taken by a majority, comes after an equally non-binding resolution by the European Parliament last week to ban weapons sales to the Mideast kingdom, given the latter’s unofficial but major role as a combatant in the bloody Yemen civil war.

Greece’s opposition railed at the prospect of the more than 60-million-euro agreement, citing the presence of a middleman/intermediary in the deal, contrary to Greek law, and varying amounts of munitions and ordnance to be sold to Saudi Arabia. Outspoken Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, the leader of a small rightist-populist party propping up the current leftist government, was the main political “target” for the opposition.

The presence of a middleman raised sharp criticism of possible kickbacks, while differing numbers given for the quantity to be sold to Saudi Arabia generated charges of black market dealings.

A majority of members of Parliament’s committee for weapons programs voted to rescind their prior favorable recommendation, with members of main opposition New Democracy (ND) party abstaining. The latter called the vote a “charade”, one aimed to cover-up the government’s handling of the controversial would-be deal.

In reversing past decisions taken in January and March 2017, committee members elected with leftist SYRIZA on Friday brought up the Yemen war, a parameter that was mostly overlooked in the previous committee sessions, except a negative reference by SYRIZA MP Nikos Filis.