Movement in the Middle East
Baerbock makes efforts in Saudi Arabia and Qatar to strengthen Germany’s withering position in the Middle East. Berlin’s influence in Yemen and Sudan is one of the issues.
RIYADH/DOHA/BERLIN (Own report) – With visits to Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is seeking to consolidate Berlin’s withering influence in the Middle East. The region’s political balance of power has begun to shift considerably since Saudi Arabia and Iran have been reconciling their differences under China’s mediation – so far with success. The Saudi-Iranian reconciliation opens new opportunities for ending the war in Yemen, which is also being waged with German weapons. Berlin, on the other hand, has contributed nothing toward settling the conflict. Baerbock is also seeking influence in Sudan via Saudi Arabia. Riyadh has a promising mediator position between the two parties to the civil war, while Germany has no particular influence in that country. Today, in Doha, Baerbock will discuss not only liquid gas deliveries to Germany, but the situation in Syria as well. Most Arab countries are seeking normalization with President Bashar al Assad, only Qatar – like the West – would like to keep his country an outcast. Berlin is also hoping to obtain Qatari arms deliveries to Ukraine. Read more
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
BERLIN/RIYADH (Own report) - The Deutsche Bank is supporting the imminent IPO (initial public offering) of the world's largest oil company Saudi Aramco thus helping to consolidate power in the hands of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. On Sunday, the competent Saudi authorities gave the green light for the IPO, which will be executed in the first half of December and will flush double-digit billions into the Public Investment Fund (PIF), Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund. The PIF will play a central role in financing strategic domestic investments and buying strategic shares in foreign companies and will de facto be controlled by the Crown Prince personally. Experts agree that bin Salman is directly responsible for the murder of the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi in Riyadh's consulate in Istanbul. Already years ago, the Deutsche Bank had financed deliveries of arms to Saudi Arabia, which were used in the war on Yemen. Along with other German companies, the bank participated in last week's investor conference in Riyadh. Read more
RIYADH/WASHINGTON/BERLIN (Own report) - As the findings of the UK-based organization "Conflict Armament Research" (CAR) confirms, the IS had disposed of a significant amount of firearms and ammunition from EU arsenals to defend itself in Ramadi, Fallujah and Mosul against the Anti-IS-Coalition. According to this research, two of Germany's most important arms customers - the United States and Saudi Arabia - had acquired military hardware from Romania and Bulgaria to provide it to insurgent militias in Syria, which had transferred some of it to the IS. For example, anti-tank missiles were re-exported to Syria without the knowledge or approval of the original suppliers. The Free Syrian Police, which had been co-financed by the German Foreign Ministry, has also supplied jihadis. It employs police officers selected from al Qaeda's Syrian subsidiary. In at least one case, these officers had facilitated the stoning execution of two women. Read more
BERLIN/RIYADH/TEHERAN (Own report) - The dispute over Riyadh’s aggression against Iran is escalating between Germany and Saudi Arabia. Riyadh has recalled its ambassador from Berlin and cancelled steps to ease the dramatic famine in Yemen, following German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel's accusation that Riyadh had been holding Lebanese Prime Minster Saad Al-Hariri hostage for nearly two weeks in its efforts to escalate the conflict with the Iran-backed Hezbollah. 130 children are dying daily of starvation, caused by Saudi Arabia’s hunger blockade on Yemen. In the Middle East, the German government is trying to maintain a fragile balance between Saudi Arabia and Iran that can be influenced from the outside to strengthen the German-European position at the Persian Gulf. To prevent Riyadh from becoming the future underdog, Germany is thus upgrading the Saudi military and Riyadh, in turn, is relying on German weapons in its efforts to escalate the conflict with Iran and its regional allies. Read more
BERLIN/RIYADH (Own report) - Germany is helping Saudi Arabia establish an independent arms industry. Via its South African subsidiary, the Rheinmetall Group has already set up an ammunition factory in Riyadh, in which Saudi Arabia can produce artillery shells and bombs for its Air Force. Next month, a Rheinmetall manager will be appointed chair of the new arms producer - SAMI (Saudi Arabian Military Industries). Saudi Arabia, which competes with Russia for the third place of countries with the highest military budgets, is seeking to buy half its weaponry eventually from domestic companies. SAMI should thus become one of the 25 most important arms manufacturers in the world - with close contacts to US arms manufacturing giants and the EU's military industry. This project is being launched at a time when Riyadh is on an extremely aggressive course, to win a power struggle with Iran for predominance in the Middle East. Read more
BERLIN/RIYADH (Own report) - Despite Saudi Arabia's sea blockade, starving Yemen, Germany continues upgrading the Saudi Coast Guard's weaponry. At the beginning of November, a cargo vessel carrying two patrol boats for Saudi Arabia left the Baltic Sea headed for the Red Sea. The Saudi Coast Guard is also operating in Yemeni waters, where Riyadh has been blocking the entry of food, fuel and medicine into Yemen since 2015. Saudi Arabia is also blocking container ships with humanitarian aid supplies, which had been inspected for possible arms smuggling and given United Nations clearance. Even vessels transporting medicine under UN control were delayed for months permitting a significant portion to expire. The number of suspected cholera infections is climbing toward a million. The famine caused by Riyadh - also possibly using German patrol boats - could cost "millions" of lives, the United Nations estimates. Read more