The German Foreign Minister's weekend trip to the Arabian Peninsular has reinforced relations between Germany and the local dictatorships. According to the German delegation, talks in Riyadh were particularly successful and in depth. Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle subsequently declared that Saudi Arabia is the "leading regional power" playing "a key role for the region as a whole." This declaration is significant because it recognizes Saudi Arabia's Persian Gulf claim to leadership and therefore confronts Iran's growing influence. Teheran seeks more influence. Around 2005, an Iranian strategy paper was published proclaiming that "in twenty years Iran will be a developed country, an economic, academic and technological regional forerunner." Riyadh is opposing these efforts with Berlin's help. For decades the ruling Saudi clan has been willing to subordinate its interests to those of the West, whereas Teheran stands in opposition to the West.
Berlin is linking its political stability measures to business projects at the Persian Gulf - not only in Saudi Arabia but also in the five other dictatorships at the Persian Gulf, which, with Riyadh, are members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Last year Qatar and the United Arab Emirates drew attention through billions in business deals with German companies. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.) The business relations are now being extended. Over the weekend, numerous German managers traveled in the Foreign Minister's entourage to broker - with political support - deals in Riyadh, Doha (Qatar) as well as in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates). Among those heads of companies was Ruediger Grube, board chairman of the Deutsche Bahn, which in November had landed a 17 billion Euro deal to construct a national railroad system in Qatar. The Deutsche Bahn is hoping to get more contracts. The construction of the GCC Railway, a railroad network, linking the entire Arabian Peninsular from Kuwait to Oman including a spur to Yemen, is planned for next year.
German participation in this mega-project - estimated volume at between two to three-digit billions - was being negotiated years ago by the former German Chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder and his close affiliate, the long term head of the Deutsche Bahn, Hartmut Mehdorn. Both are still actively pursuing this project, as presidium members of the foreign business German Near and Middle East Association (NUMOv). Martin Bay, NUMOv board Chairman, who is also Chief Administrator of the Deutsche Bahn International, is also pursuing the project. GCC Railway is of immense geostrategic importance. It will connect the Gulf coast to the Red Sea by rail - thereby facilitating the safe overland transport of raw materials from the Gulf to the vicinity of the Suez Canal. According to economic experts, "the Gulf countries" know very well that Iran "in a crisis situation, can block the entry"  to the Persian Gulf - the Straits of Hormuz. GCC Railway invalidates this option and therefore contributes toward weakening Iran.
Billions in Business
Other business deals seek the extension of relations between Germany and the dictatorships on the Arabian Peninsular - and profits. Several Gulf countries have initiated ambitious programs in the field of renewable energy to maintain their leading position in the energy sector against the rising ecological industry. Forty-five percent of all extractable petroleum reserves and a third of all natural gas deposits are on the territories of the GCC countries. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), which is reputed to be significant for the worldwide proliferation of the corresponding technology, has its headquarters in Abu Dhabi. This is why cooperation with the Gulf countries is of interest to German ecological branch companies, especially for the seductively high profits that can be expected. For example the emirate of Qatar intends to install a photovoltaic power plant worth around a US $1 billion and is already engaged in talks with foreign investors. Also in Foreign Minister Westerwelle's entourage on this trip to the Gulf was the head of the Solarworld Company, with headquarters in Bonn. He is interested in that billion dollar deal. Last year Solarworld, founded in 1998, had returns of a billion Euros and is seeking to expand further, to be able to hold its ground in competition with its Chinese rivals. Chinese companies have become, with a wide margin, the world market leaders in photovoltaic.
Independent - From Teheran
On the foreign minister's trip, billion Euro business deals were somewhat eclipsed by the accentuation of tensions in Yemen. In Riyadh, Westerwelle declared that "Yemen must remain a sovereign and independent country." His Saudi counterpart warned that "external interference" in Yemen must not be allowed. The German - Saudi demands were being addressed to Iran, which is said to be giving aid to the Northern Yemen civil war militia - the Houthi rebels, which like the Teheran government are Shiite Moslems. Saudi ships are already cruising off the Yemeni coast, to prohibit possible Iranian arms deliveries to the Houthi Rebels. Saudi warplanes have bombed Houthi positions on various occasions. The Berlin - Riyadh alliance is seeking to thwart Teheran from gaining a foothold in the southern part of the Arabian Peninsular. It goes without saying that the German - Saudi demand that Sanaa must remain "sovereign" is not in reference to the western countries and their Arabian cohorts' direct interventions in Yemen, nor to the Yemeni regime's extensive dependence on Washington, Berlin and Riyadh.