The Bundeswehr has begun setting up a new logistics unit of the Iraqi armed forces. Twenty Iraqi soldiers have already been initiated in their tasks at the Bundeswehr logistics school in Garlstedt near Bremen. During his Middle East tour last fall, Defense Minister Franz-Josef Jung had contractually agreed to the continuation of the training, set to begin in the UAE. The military hardware, necessary for the functioning of the unit, has already been shipped from Germany, including, according to Jung's agreement in October, 250 trucks and 100 ambulances from Bundeswehr stocks, no longer needed by the German army, because they cannot withstand mine explosions. The material is valued at approx. 7.5 million Euros. Berlin is also covering approx. two-thirds of the 2 million Euros maritime shipping costs. About 70 German instructors will carry out the training in Abu Dhabi, due to begin once the equipment arrives sometime this spring. The United Arab Emirates are providing housing and accommodations.
This is a continuation of earlier training programs for the Iraqi military, which were also carried out with UAE support. The first such program for the Iraqi army was agreed upon in Abu Dhabi between a Bundeswehr delegation, the Iraqi General Vice Chief of Staff and the United Arab Emirates back in August 2004. That same year and the succeeding year, nearly 500 soldiers were trained in the Emirati desert by 75 German soldiers. These training programs were supplemented by wide-ranging deliveries of military hardware.
In addition to the soldiers, the German Federal Office of Criminal Investigation (BKA) trained more than 450 Iraqi criminal police officers in 2004 and 2005 - in the Al Ain police academy in the Abu Dhabi Emirate. The cooperation with the Emirates for training Iraqi police officers was expanded in 2005 through a bilateral agreement that envisaged "an even closer cooperation in the realm of security affairs." Since 2006, German forces have also trained and equipped Iraqi policemen for the ensuing civil war (bomb disposal).
Close and Trustful
The German-UAE training projects are based on the cooperation between the two countries' armed forces dating back to the Mid-90s. According to the German Embassy in Abu Dhabi, the Bundeswehr and the UAE armed forces "have developed a close and trustful partnership." The UAE Navy "equipped with units from German shipyards and seeing the German Navy as a 'Parent Navy,' serves as a good example that the other services are following," the German Embassy affirms. Every year, 20 officers and NCO’s from the UAE are trained in Germany within the framework of the “Falah-project". Germany is explicitly interested in extending this project. To this end the “Agreement of Cooperation in the Military Field” was signed in 2005. In 2006 the Bundeswehr began to support the Emirati armed forces in "ecological questions". The cooperation between the German and Emirati police is also intensifying. Over the past two years, the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation and several State Offices of Criminal Investigation organized training courses for the Emirati police. More than 200 Emirati police officers have been instructed.
Reconnaissance Vehicles, Howitzers
As in the case of the Emirati Navy, the cooperation of the other branches of the Emirati armed forces means the purchase of German military hardware. Over the past few years, Germany has become one of the most significant arms merchants for the government in Abu Dhabi. Since 2003 the Emirates have been buying German NBC armored reconnaissance vehicles, trucks, spare parts for tanks and armored howitzers. But, according to experts, Emirati military hardware imports would be of little practical efficiency in actual warfare situations. The purchases show "an acute tendency toward the glitter factor" says one specialist. Alongside the profitable market, the Emirates also provide German arms producers indispensable testing grounds. The Munich based German/French/British EURO-ART consortium could make test-runs of its COBRA (COunter Battery RAdar) artillery-locating radar that is also used by the Bundeswehr. This choice of testing area is an indication of western arms industries' orientation toward military operations in desert regions of the Arab-Islamic world.
Air Warfare Center
Last year the Emirati government allowed the establishment of an "Air Warfare Center" at the "El Dhafra Air Base" in the center of the country, where "friendly armed forces" can practice aerial combat over desert areas - free of charge. The German Air Force has already had a course in theory on this air base. Beginning in March, larger combat units with up to 40 "friendly" jets are scheduled to carry out maneuvers to practice warfare in the Arab world. Six Tornados and 150 soldiers of the Bundeswehr will take part in this exercise. "The conditions are the same as in real-life combat" an Emirati colonel told the German press. Since last year, a German Air Force liaison officer is stationed on a permanent basis in the Emirates.
But the close German-UAE cooperation is not without competition. Just a few weeks ago it became known that the French army is planning to set up its own base in this Gulf state, particularly to train Emirati soldiers. Since the 1990s France has been the second largest arms supplier to this country. The rivalry between these two core-European powers extends to the Persian Gulf region - at a geostrategically very significant maritime passageway, the Straits of Hormuz, through which nearly 30% of the world's oil is transported. Because of their significance for western energy supplies, maritime routes such as the Straits of Hormuz are among the special zones of interests of global German military policy.
Because the cooperation with the Emirates is serving its global interest, Berlin is ignoring the criticism of the methods of repression used by this feudal dictatorship. For example, Amnesty International reported on cases of torture and arbitrary incarceration. "Many defenders of human rights, who have been forbidden to give interviews or to write articles, are still suffering under reprisals" explained the organization. Brutal and humiliating corporal punishment, including whippings, are still being used in the Emirates. "According to reports, particularly gruesome death penalties are imposed: death by decapitation with subsequent crucifixion or death through stoning" writes Amnesty. As described above, the Emirati police, whose investigative activities precede such draconian sentences, are being trained by German repressive forces.