Germany has decided to cease exporting weapons to Saudi Arabia because of ongoing conflicts in the Middle East. Germany’s national security council, a government body headed by Chancellor Angela Merkel and made up of ministers from seven ministries, made the decision due to “instability in the region.” But this information has not been officially confirmed. The decision comes after the public flogging of the Blogger Raif Badawi. Additionally, the death of King Abdullah and the ascension to the throne of Prince Salman, already in his 90s and rumoured to be afflicted with dementia, has brought the Saudis in the limelight more than they wanted. King Abdullah has been hailed as a “great reformer” and this mislabelling has human rights and women’s rights advocates up in arms. If anything, any reforms were minor and begrudgingly enforced. The country is still run like a medieval monarchy, and has been extremely resistant to any change in its draconian punishments that include public flogging and limb cutting as well as the political repression of its people. Additionally, the global fall in oil prices has made the country insecure and raised some questions about its welfare program that has kept the population at a good enough standard of living and inhibited large scale revolt. The list of global grievances does not end here. The Saudi government has been critiqued for its razing of religious shrines and landmarks in its quest for the dominance of the Wahabi school of thought. It has exported this worldview to Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan. The destruction of the Buddhas of Bamyan by the Taliban is one example of the consequences.

However, the international economy also works on the simple dynamics of demand and supply. The Saudis may not really have to fret. The Canadian government has gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure the success of a controversial $15-billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia. While Canada has given asylum to the wife and child of Raif Badawai, It has simultaneously orchestrated an arms deal, and has had to deal with Canadians protesting over the decision. So with regards to the paragons of global peace like Canada, USA and UK, does a country like Saudia Arabia, and its human rights record really matter when it comes to business? Historical evidence suggests it does not, and so there might be more to the German decision to halt exports other than just human rights concerns. Saudi Arabia is a spiritual home for Muslims across the globe, a country revered and well loved. It needs to change its stance on human rights and human kindness, so it can continue on, so that reverence and respect for Islamic law and Saudi conduct comes from love and not fear.