No Case for Berlin

BERLIN/BAGHDAD/MUNICH |

BERLIN/BAGHDAD/MUNICH (Own report) - In spite of continuous danger to the German hostage in Iraq, the German government and industry is maintaining its collaboration with the illegal administration of the occupation. The kidnappers are demanding an immediate end to Berlin's state complicity with the Baghdad administration. Without mentioning this demand, the crisis unit declared that it will attempt to save the life of Susanne Osthoff. At the same time the Economics Ministry in Berlin offered those German firms who are interested, fast business with the torture regime and gave the green light for government export guarantees. The agreements (Hermes Credits) were reached with the neo-colonial governors in the Ministry of Finances in Baghdad. Berlin's credit assurances line the pockets, among others, of the Siemens Company which is present in Iraq with its varied field of products. To mount their business in the country, German investors are using the help of assistants, who know their way around, as is the case of Susanne Osthoff. This activity is understood in guerrilla circles as inimical contribution to foreign parties to the conflict. The unscrupulous exploitation of individual willingness to help to reach the political objectives of the federal government and the German economy has become fateful for the German hostage.

According to the crisis unit, as far as the survival chances of Susanne Osthoff are concerned, the political demands of the kidnappers will under no circumstances be considered. By referring to a kidnapping case in 1977, anonymous diplomats are preparing the German public for the fact that the death of Ms. Osthoff is acceptable, if the kidnappers persist in their demand of a cessation of German state aide for the Iraqi administration.[1] A change in German foreign policy will not take place.

For the War

Germany is participating in the development of the administration, installed by the occupation forces, with training and equipment measures, including those of armed units, (police and military). As the Foreign Ministry concedes, more than 300 members of the engineer corps and more than 400 criminal police officers, 170 employees of Iraqi ministries (trained in Cairo by the GTZ - German Association for Technical Cooperation), 42 diplomats and other ministry officials, as well as more than 120 election observers and so called "multipliers" who participated in the elaboration of the constitution.[2] In addition 25 Iraqi staff level officers have been or will be trained at the Officer's Academy of the German Military - for the war against their own people.

Important Contribution

Only recently (November 17, 2005) the Economics Ministry gave the green light for the "Hermes coverage in favor of German exporters," that are delivering to Iraq and are interested in doing business in war conditions.[3] The Euler Hermes Credit Insurance Company, a daughter company of the Allianz Insurance [4] has concluded a "basic agreement" contract with the Iraqi Ministry of Finances and the Trade Bank of Iraq. According to this contract, the Iraqi Ministry of Finances "guarantees" to the German government for all "debts incurred" by Iraqi importers. "This signifies that, as far as the German government is concerned, all export transactions made under this agreement are de facto based upon a state guarantee." "More extensive Hermes coverage" is promised in case the Iraqi side settles German exporters' "overdue" "and "open demands on Iraq not covered by the German government" from the period of Saddam Hussein's reign. After all the export securities of the German government have made "an important contribution to the reconstruction of Iraq" and helped German companies "to resume their supply links with Iraqi customers," says Dr. Hans Janus, member of the board of directors of Euler Hermes.[5]

Irreconcilable

With the German-Iraqi exports, highly paid brokers are going into action, whose job includes the operative directing of the business relations in the Middle East. On the ground employees with knowledge of the language and the country are needed, who, in this highly dangerous situation, are risking their lives - often for reasons of humanitarian altruism. Susanne Osthoff, who was employed in Baghdad by FaktorM, a Munich consulting agency is said to be driven by similar motivations. According to the agency, it is advising German firms specializing in "Energy supplies," "health systems," and "public services" and conveying "inter-cultural competence" for the dealings with customers from Arab countries. This has become part of the standard repertoire of German companies showing the great difficulty in reconciling the differences encountered in the western expansion in the Islamic countries.

Business Opportunities

The employer says of Ms. Osthoff that she had initiated, coordinated and served in an advisory capacity to "projects for the development of health systems in Iraq."[6] Precisely this is the field of business of the Siemens Company in Munich.[7] Dr. Peter Bertsch, sales manager in the "Medical Department" at Siemens in Erlangen, reported at the "German-Iraqi Economic Conference" in Munich in July [2005] that "for a long time Siemens Medical Solutions" has been exporting top-quality equipment to Iraq, including - among other kinds of equipment - 33 computer tomography systems.[8] Siemens found itself in good company at the Economic Conference. The list of themes handled at the conference was long. Company representatives, as well as high ranking representatives of the Federal and Bavarian governments discussed the business possibilities in nearly all fields of business with their Iraqi government and economy counterparts. German investment and export interests were focusing on the infrastructure, banking, energy supply ("oil and gas"), communications technology, security systems as well as water resources management. The second part of the conference was reserved for strategic inquiry: market entry into Iraq, training of Iraqi specialists in Germany and potential business opportunities in Kurdistan.[9]

Sacrifice

The extent of the economic and political interests in Iraq, that remains hidden from the public, indicates why the German government is prepared to possibly sacrifice the life of the hostage. It wants to absolutely avoid a development, such as in the case of the Italian journalist, Giulina Sgrena. Under pressure of the Italian public, Rome was forced to make political concessions to the kidnappers, and to save the life of Ms. Sgrena. This is no case for Berlin.

[1] Erster Ernstfall für die Kanzlerin; Focus online 29.11.2005
[2] see also Reformkurs and Tribalists
[3] Rahmenabkommen für Hermesdeckungen mit irakischem Finanzministerium und Trade Bank of Iraq unterzeichnet; www.agaportal.de 17.11.2005
[4] see also Drang nach Osten und Süden, Logisch and Brücke nach China
[5] Rahmenabkommen für Hermesdeckungen mit irakischem Finanzministerium und Trade Bank of Iraq unterzeichnet; www.agaportal.de 17.11.2005
[6] www.faktorm.de/osthoff.html
[7] Siemens, FaktorM und Eon sponserten gemeinsam die Tagung "Bild und Macht", die im April 2004 vom Département für Philosophie an der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München veranstaltet wurde.
[8], [9] www.deutsch-irakische-wirtschaftskonferenz.de