The End of US Domination at the Persian Gulf (III)
China gains new influence at the Persian Gulf with its successful mediation in the Saudi-Iranian conflict. Decline of US domination could also weaken Germany's position in the region.
RIYADH/TEHRAN/BEIJING (Own report) – With China gaining influence at the Persian Gulf through its successful mediation in the conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran is not only calling into question US domination, but also Germany's position in that region. Beijing has achieved initial success in bringing about rapprochement between Riyadh and Tehran. Both are now intending to resume diplomatic relations and are negotiating far-reaching cooperation. It they succeed, US efforts at establishing a sort of Arab NATO against Iran, are about to fail. For decades, the Federal Republic of Germany has also been benefitting from US domination in the Middle East, as it could always procure crude oil and natural gas from the region, whenever needed and engage in profitable business deals. Most recently, a former Siemens CEO temporarily served as economic advisor to Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, the actual ruler of the country. It is uncertain whether the receptiveness to Berlin's interests in the Middle East will continue despite the loss of U.S. influence. The close alliance between Saudi Arabia and the United States has been in a crisis for some time. Read more
The End of US Domination at the Persian Gulf
Think tank calls on Berlin and EU to intensify their efforts to gain influence at the Persian Gulf. So far, China is main beneficiary of US partial withdrawal, and could become the stabilizing power of the Middle East.
BERLIN/TEHRAN/ABU DHABI (Own report) - The incoming German government should intensify its efforts to gain influence at the Persian Gulf, thereby assuring that the EU can be "an actor" in the "global contest" for obtaining regional power. This demand is raised by the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) in its current position paper, due to the power vacuum that is developing from the US focus on its power struggle against China, and therefore withdrawing from the Middle East. The People's Republic of China, on the other hand, is strengthening its position, not only in Iran, with which it had concluded a 25-year "strategic partnership" last March and is seeking means for circumventing US sanctions, but in Arab Gulf countries as well. Beijing, for example, is also expanding its activities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and in Saudi Arabia - and is supplying them with 5G technology from the Huawei corporation, that Washington is so fiercely opposing. Appeals to Berlin and Brussels to strengthen the EU's position in the region, have so far been in vain. The DGAP warns that in light of the global "rebalancing of power, " raising the question of whose order will prevail. Read more
Iran's Shift to the East
With oil purchases and agreements of cooperation, China ensures long-term influence in Iran. Berlin and Brussels lose out due to US sanctions.
BERLIN/TEHRAN/BEIJING (Own report) - Berlin and the EU could permanently lose out on political influence and substantial business deals in Iran, due to new agreements between Iran and China, on the one hand, and to the ongoing US blockade of Tehran on the other. The People's Republic of China has not only been able to somewhat maintain its Iranian oil imports despite US sanctions, and, since the beginning of the year, also register a significant increase. Over the weekend, Beijing even concluded a comprehensive cooperation agreement with Tehran, which provides for huge investments and could, in the long run, procure a long-term dominant economic influence for China in Iran. Germany's attempt to sidestep US sanctions in favor of German business with Iran has failed, with no perspective for relaunching its traditionally lucrative economic activities in that country. Experts complain that the Biden administration is even blocking necessary humanitarian imports of food and Covid-19 vaccines. Read more
The Next Round in the Nuclear Dispute with Iran
Berlin urges future US administration to change course in relation to Iran, while Teheran favors a "look east" policy.
BERLIN/WASHINGTON/TEHERAN (Own report) - The German government is pushing for a quick return to the nuclear deal with Iran once designated US President Joe Biden takes office. Already months ago, Biden had declared his willingness to do so. German companies are hoping for lucrative business opportunities, which would also help them to weather the Corona crisis. However, obstacles persist in Washington, such as the presumed continued Republican majority in the US Senate and a new wave of sanctions initiated by outgoing President Donald Trump. Thus, supplementary, coercive measures, independent of the nuclear deal, would, in fact, be imposed on Iran's entire oil sector. Biden is raising the demand - supported also by Berlin - that Iran refrain from seeking regional influence and limit its missile program massively. Teheran is unwilling to comply and - given its experience in dealings with the West - prefers a "look east" policy. Read more
No Mercy from the West
UN Secretary General sharply criticizes sanctions on Iran because they hamper the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. Berlin remains silent.
BERLIN/WASHINGTON/TEHRAN (Own report) - US sanctions on Iran, to which German enterprises are obliged to conform, are in fact seriously hampering the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, according to UN General Secretary António Guterres, who is campaigning for an immediate suspension of the sanctions. The boycott measures had already caused serious damage to Iran's health system prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, depriving, for example, cancer patients of desperately needed medicine. Now they are blocking deliveries of Covid-19 test kits that are inexpensively produced in Germany. Iran is one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic. The numbers given in yesterday's official statistics - around 27,000 infected, a little more than 2,000 deaths - are considered far too low. Iranian experts fear an increase in deaths into the 6 or 7-digits. Washington, with absolutely no intention of at least suspending the sanctions to enable the fight against the pandemic, imposed even new punitive measures a few days ago. Berlin remains inactive and silent. Read more
An Assassination and its Consequences
Conflict over Iran escalates. Iraqi parliament demands the withdrawal of the German Bundeswehr
WASHINGTON/TEHRAN/BERLIN (Own report) - Following the USA's assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and other high-ranking Iraqi and Iranian military personnel, demands are being raised in Baghdad to expel the foreign troops, including the Bundeswehr. The Anti-IS Coalition troops, stationed in Iraq, must leave the country, the Iraqi parliament ruled yesterday. The German government insists on keeping German troops in Iraq to be able to maintain its options for gaining influence in that country. Berlin had earlier already rejected calls to end its deployment for security reasons. Camp Taji near Baghdad, where 27 German soldiers are currently stationed, had already come under missile fire in June. The camp could become a possible target for retaliatory strikes by Iran or pro-Iranian militias. Whereas the German government euphemizes the assassination of Soleimani as "a line of action undertaken by the United States", the chairman of the SPD parliamentary group officially called it a “violation of international law." A government advisor spoke of "state terrorism." Read more
BERLIN/TEHRAN (Own report) - German military experts have presented their first concrete plans for an EU naval operation in the Persian Gulf. According to the draft of two well connected government advisors and a Bundeswehr professor, warships should be cruising at the two entrances to the Strait of Hormuz. Supplementary warships should escort oil tankers through the strait with armed troops on board to ward off possible attacks - depending on the disposition to escalate. This would necessitate "between 10 and 30 percent of the EU's naval capacities," and Berlin should be in command of the deployment to demonstrate its aspiration to shape global policy. Whereas sectors of the SPD and the opposition reject the operation, the chancellor and foreign ministry are promoting the plan also within the EU. Previously, Foreign Minster Heiko Maas had rejected the US demand for Germany to deploy warships in a US-led naval mission in the Middle East. Berlin is positioning itself to be an independent power in global politics. Read more
TEHRAN/BERLIN (Own report) - German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) is threatening Tehran with international isolation. Maas met with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran yesterday to discuss options for salvaging the nuclear deal. Zarif, whose country has been complying with the agreement, is demanding that the West do the same and halt the sanctions: "The only way to ease tensions and de-escalate is to end the economic war." Under the weight of US sanctions, the Iranian economy is indeed collapsing and the population is suffering from dramatically increased food prices and a noticeable lack of medicines. In its effort to salvage the nuclear deal, Berlin is mainly concerned with serving the German economy's expansionist interests and with its own profile as a global player vis-à-vis the United States. Maas conceded yesterday that the INSTEX financial vehicle Berlin helped to create could not provide an adequate substitute for the losses inflicted by the sanctions. Now, he is reverting to threats. Read more
BERLIN/TEHERAN/WASHINGTON (Own report) - The escalation of the conflict over Iran hampers the German government's efforts to pursue an independent global policy even contrary to US interests. Following US President Donald Trump's announcement, he would impose punitive measures on all countries planning to purchase Iranian oil, Teheran responded by declaring it may begin to enrich uranium again, if the partners of the nuclear agreement continue to breach their commitments and refuse to allow Iran to sell its goods freely. This is actually the case, due to US threats to impose punitive measures. Berlin's efforts to salvage trade with Iran by means of a barter-based financial vehicle does not bear fruit. Washington is now preparing new threats against this vehicle ("INSTEX"). Despite the de facto trade blockade in violation of the nuclear agreement, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is demanding that Teheran must “fully” comply with the nuclear agreement. In the meantime, US President Trump is increasing pressure with new sanctions. Read more
BERLIN/TEHERAN (Own report) - Berlin and Brussels have announced renewed efforts to try to salvage the nuclear agreement with Teheran after the escalation of the US initiated war of sanctions against Iran. Additional efforts will be undertaken to make the finance vehicle, the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), established at the beginning of the year, operational, according to a declaration made public Saturday by the foreign ministers of the three most powerful EU nations, as well as the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security. Other nations, "also Russia and China," are invited to join the effort. Earlier, Washington had announced it would not extend the "special permits" it had issued for the importation of oil from Iran, and would take reprisals against companies that continue buying Iranian oil. Because US policy, aimed at the collapse of Iran's government is running counter to Berlin's plans for the Middle East, the German government is striving to undermine it and promote the implementation of its own concepts. Until now, INSTEX, however, has proven inoperable. Read more