As a result of intensive preparations, the "strategic partnership" between Germany and the UAE was concluded in April 2004. Concerning this accord, the German embassy in Abu Dhabi wrote: "with this accord, both governments manifest their will to work closely together in all areas of our bi-lateral relations." Germany is greatly benefiting from the "partnership," which encompasses numerous ministerial and state visits between the two capitals. Statistics show that about 30 of these visits have occurred, since Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder - as the first German head of government since 1981 - visited in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in October 2004. Last Monday, Chancellor Merkel met with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheik Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Berlin - for the third time.
It is worth the effort. Over the past few years German exports to the UAE have sharply increased. The Gulf sheikdoms purchased nearly six billion Euros worth of goods in Germany in 2007. The Emirates Airlines are among the major clients of Airbus, with contracts running in the double-digit billions. On the other hand, Germany is not dependent upon products from the Emirates. German imports from the Emirates are stagnating at a relatively meager 400 million Euros per year. Berlin is seeking, even culturally - by implanting a joint office in Abu Dhabi of the Goethe Institute and German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) - to unilaterally orient the Emirates toward Germany. Not least of all, the "partnership" takes on a comprehensive repressive component: the Emirates' police and military are being trained and equipped by Germany.
The UAE are therefore orienting themselves, even in security questions and armaments, on western standards. The cooperation between the UAE armed forces and the Bundeswehr was initiated back in the 1990s and institutionalized in 2005 with a "Treaty on Cooperation in the Military Sector". (german-foreign-policy.com reported ) In accompaniment the Emirates bought arms. As observers summed up: "the significance of Germany as an arms supplier" for the Gulf nation was "relatively marginal until the end of the 1990s." It was only in 2005 that "according to the German government, the UAE became the third most important customer for German military products outside of NATO." Also in 2007, the UAE was far up the scale as an outlet for German military exports - with purchases of military hardware worth nearly 70 million Euros, it ranked sixth among the recipient nations outside of NATO and the EU.
In questions of repression, the Emirates have aided Berlin on several occasions - in the training and arming of the Iraqi regime's police and military. Even before the "strategic partnership" agreements were concluded, the German Minister of the Interior, Otto Schily, at the time, visited the Gulf in January 2004, to negotiate the training of 500 Iraqi policemen. The German Federal Office of Criminal Investigation was able to complete the training course within a year. Since then, there have been three training programs for the Iraqi military, which were also carried out by the Bundeswehr in the Emirates. The assistance rendered the collaborators of Iraq's western occupiers have been positively assessed both in Berlin and in Abu Dhabi.
Berlin is progressively drawing the UAE into the occupation activities in Afghanistan as well. On January 11, representatives of Germany and the Emirates laid a cornerstone for a new headquarters of the riot police (the Afghan National Civil Order Police, ANCOP). The construction will be co-financed nearly equally (Germany: 1.39 million Euros / UAE 1.25 million Euros). The UAE's interior ministry has installed a representative to observe the work at the future ANCOP headquarters. ANCOP is seen as a significant element of counter insurgency at the Hindu Kush. The day following the cornerstone laying ceremony, the German Foreign Minister announced that he and his Emirati counterpart had agreed on a joint project of upgrading the Mazar-e-Sharif Airport. This airport is being used by the Bundeswehr, whose radius of action will be enhanced through this upgrade. Other projects will follow. The Emirati support is not being sought merely for its financial aspect, but because it lends the occupation an Arab-Islamic countenance as well, thereby weakening the potential resistance.
Federal Cross of Merit
The engagement of the UAE for occupation activities in Afghanistan and Iraq expose the main objective of the 2004 "strategic partnership". The Bundeswehr's training of Emirati troops and the perpetual purchase of NATO standard arms in Germany leaves the possibility open of the Gulf country's more extensive collaboration in occupation and war. In recognition of Abu Dhabi's ruling clan's accomplishments in adjustment, German President Horst Koehler recently awarded the country's Deputy Prime Minister, Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Germany's Grand Federal Cross of Merit with Star and Sash. As the German ambassador explained on December 14, 2008, in Abu Dhabi at the award ceremony, the Sheikh had played a "decisive role" not only in the founding, but also in the elaboration of the "strategic partnership."