Regional Program Gulf States
Since June 2009, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) has been on hand in the dictatorships of the Arabian Peninsular with its "Regional Program Gulf States." Originally, it was headquartered in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates - UAE), where it was working with several official and non-government organizations, including the think tank, "Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research" (ECSSR) and the German Emirati Joint Council for Industry and Commerce. From its Abu Dhabi branch office, the foundation was supervising KAS projects in practically all of the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) as well as in Yemen. In the meantime, the country's foreign minister has compelled KAS to close its Emirati office. No official reason has been given, even though branch offices of German party-affiliated foundations have, in fact, been expelled from several countries, de facto, for their intrusion in domestic affairs of their host countries. This was most recently the case in Egypt. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.) Since the Emirati office was closed, the "Regional Program Gulf States" has been supervised from the Jordanian capital Amman. The foundation has announced that it is still searching for a new permanent base of operations at the Persian Gulf.
Surrounded by Trouble Spots
As KAS explains, its work with the dictatorships of the Arabian Peninsular is based on the analysis that the significance of these economically ambitious GCC countries will "continue to grow." This is "not only in reference to their roles as energy suppliers," but also in terms of economics. They have become, among other things, "a central gateway to global trade." For years, German business relations to some of these Gulf dictatorships have been booming and are expected to grow further. Since a few years, the respective ruling clans have been seeking to invest their financial means derived from their natural resources, to insure a prosperous future after their natural resources have dried up. This, according to KAS, is why it is raising the "issue of the economic order" - "nationally, regionally and on the global scale" at the Gulf. It is also seeking to handle "regionally relevant security policy issues" and to establish, as a corollary, "a network of experts." "Surrounded by trouble spots, some of these Gulf countries" would be the appropriate "starting points for conflict prevention."
In 2009, when the Konrad Adenauer Foundation was beginning its "security policy" cooperation with the GCC member countries, German rearmament of these countries was reaching a preliminary climax. With the intention to arming the GCC against Iran, Berlin's arms supply commitments to the Gulf dictatorships amounted to nearly 800 million Euros. The German government is still pursuing this policy. In 2011, various Gulf dictatorships, which, according to the Adenauer Foundation, could serve as "starting points for conflict prevention," had begun to intervene in several Arab countries, mainly with the objective of supporting Islamist and often Salafist organizations, as in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria and Lebanon. In Libya, some of the GCC countries' activities, particularly those of Qatar, were military in nature. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.) In Libya, Islamist militias therefore have acquired significant influence. Today, several GCC countries are continuing their interventionist policy in regards to Syria. Observers warn that their support is again mainly geared toward Islamists. According to a recent German government report, which is also based on evidence provided by intelligence services, about 90 terrorist attacks have been committed in Syria, between the end of December 2011 and early July 2012, "which can be attributed to Al Qaeda-related organizations or Jihadist groups."
Tool of Influence - The Arab League
At the same time, the Gulf dictatorships, cooperation partners of the West in general and of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in particular, have taken over the political leadership of the Arab League. "One year ago, Qatar had taken the lead in the Libyan crisis. The Emirates and Saudi Arabia are setting the tone in the Syrian conflict," an expert concluded in March. "The other heavy weights" - Egypt, Syria and Iraq - "have been silent." The Gulf dictatorships are currently "the driving force in the Arab world." Due to a deal with Qatar, Nabil al Arabi took office as Secretary General of the Arab League in Mai 2011. From the outset, he, therefore, cooperated closely with Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Since the principle of majority rule was adopted in the Arab League a few years ago, the Gulf dictatorships have been able to implement their foreign policy projects, also with the help of this umbrella organization. This is how they were able to significantly enhance their influence, wherever the Arab League is active - for example in Syria. "In the future, Saudi Arabia and Qatar will play an important role in Syria," a member of the Syrian opposition is quoted to have said.
In cooperation with other organizations, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation has recently launched a new project to bind the Gulf dictatorships, which have significantly enhanced their influence in the Arab world, tighter to Germany and the EU. The initial duration of the project, financed by the EU Commission, will be two years. To strengthen relations, it is oriented toward several areas of policy. The Konrad Adenauer Foundation's director of the "Regional Program Gulf States" is "convinced" that the project will have a "positive" effect on cooperation between the EU and the GCC. "Particularly the involvement of different interest groups," for example "diplomats and government representatives," but also "members of civil society, business representatives, scientists, and the media" will forge "bilateral relations." KAS contacts to the most reactionary Arab countries, which are currently setting the tone, are therefore being intensified at a time when the influence of Islamist forces - supported by the Gulf dictatorships - is growing in the region.