The Role of Propaganda

TEHERAN/WASHINGTON/BERLIN (Own report) - The German government is not ruling out the prospect of applying harsher measures against Iran. According to the German foreign minister's declarations, Berlin is consulting with its western allies on the reactions to an ominous plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington. The Iranian government is allegedly implicated in this plot. If the West would take harsher measures against Iran, Berlin would be directly implicated also locally. For years, Germany has been systematically supporting Iran's rivals, the pro-western Arabian Peninsular dictatorships. This support included arms supplies in the billions of Euros. These dictatorships would side with the West in a conflict. However, in Berlin, the escalation strategy against Teheran is controversial. Prominent experts still plead for a transformation from a confrontational to a cooperative policy toward the Iranian government, to open possibilities for expanding German companies and strengthening Germany's position - independently of the USA - in the resources rich Middle East. They can draw on the fact that numerous observers consider the current accusations against Iran hardly credible.

Sharpen Sanctions

A segment of Berlin's foreign policy establishment is in favor of the harsher measures demanded by the USA. One should "not do as if the assassination plans are a figment of the American imagination" declared Ruprecht Polenz (CDU), Chairman of the Foreign Policy Committee of the German Bundestag.[1] Sharpening the sanctions against Iran should definitely be considered. The transatlantic oriented media argues similarly. The US government's accusations of Teheran's implication in a dubious plot is "too fantastic to be conjured up," explains an influential daily, with a surprising twist of logic.[2] But Philipp Mißfelder, the foreign policy spokesperson for the conservative CDU/CSU parliamentary groups in the German Bundestag, declared that he is, in any case in favor "of sharpening sanctions against Iran" - completely "independent of this current incident."[3]

A Favorable Moment

In Berlin, endorsement for sharper confrontation with Iran is not uncontroversial. Another wing of Berlin's foreign policymakers is skeptical. "Propaganda is certainly playing a role in this case," says the director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), Volker Perthes, in regards to the alleged implication of the Iranian government in the assassination plot. "What we are seeing is certainly that (...) the American government considers (...) now to be a favorable moment to go public with this plot and to use it to heighten pressure on Iran."[4] Perthes clearly insinuates that he considers the implication of Iran in the assassination plot to be rather improbable. Numerous other experts, including high-ranking US secret service agents, see the situation similarly. For example, former CIA agent and current Middle East analyst Robert Baer considers that the Obama Administration should urgently cease allegations against Teheran.[5] Numerous commentators in the media are expressing the same opinion.

Expansion Interests

The various positions being taken in Berlin correspond to the contradictory positions that have been taken in the German capital on Iran over the past ten years. SWP director Perthes is among those, who prefer a cooperative relationship to Teheran. He explains that, because of rivalry for access to the Persian Gulf region's resources, it is necessary to win over Iran as a partner. This could prevent the Iranian regime from ultimately turning its back on the West and toward Russia, but especially toward China. Otherwise, it could be expected that German companies could completely lose out in the country, with its considerable economic potential. One should not neglect the fact that Iran has the world's second largest oil and gas reserves and that through natural gas pipelines, the country could eventually develop strong ties to and become an important supplier for the West. Major energy companies and companies specializing in machine and plant engineering, anticipating lucrative business with Iran, also support this standpoint. In hopes of enhancing Germany's position in the Middle East - independently of the USA - foreign policy makers are also pleading for a closer cooperation with Iran. (german-foreign-policy.reported.[6])

Partner Dictatorships

Berlin's transatlantic oriented foreign policy makers are taking a different position, placing higher priority on the alliance with the USA than German companies' interests to expand in the Middle East. They are regularly underlining that, following the destruction of Iraq, Iran has a free hand to become the strongest Persian Gulf power, while, at the same time, not being prepared to renounce on certain aspects of its independence from the West and on its cooperation with the West's rivals, particularly China. Therefore, the West for years has been systematically arming Saudi Arabia and the other Arabian Peninsula dictatorships to establish a counterforce to Teheran. Germany is participating - not only with the sale of 200 Leopard 2A7+ battle tanks and other weapons, but also with enhancing the cooperation between the Bundeswehr and armed forces of the Gulf dictatorships and its support measures for domestic repression. ( reported.[7]) Should the confrontation between the West and Teheran intensify, a heightening of tensions would be inevitable between the Arabian Peninsula dictatorships and Iran and the objective of German rearmament of the Gulf dictatorships would become clear.

Teheran Weakened

The tensions between the West and Iran are threatening to escalate at a moment when Teheran is approaching a tangible loss of influence. SWP Director, Perthes points out that the Iranian government is playing no significant role in the current transformations taking place in the Arab world. At best, Turkey, seen as a model for the Islamic countries, could play this role. ( reported.[8]) In addition, Teheran could suffer "significant losses," if the Bashar al Assad government, Teheran's sole ally in the Arab world, should fall.[9] "With the overthrow of Bashar al Assad" Iran would "lose its only ally and, therefore be also cut off from direct access to Lebanon and the Hezbollah militia," Perthes explains. Damascus' foreign policy has already been stifled, weakening thereby Teheran - a promising constellation for heightening pressure on the Iranian government.

[1] Obamas riskante Anti-Iran-Strategie; 13.10.2011
[2] Eine weltpolitische Räuberpistole; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 13.10.2011
[3] Mißfelder: Türkei verbaut sich Chancen in der EU, 14.10.2011
[4] "Propaganda spielt hier auf jeden Fall eine Rolle"; 12.10.2011
[5] Ex-CIA warns US 'dangerously wrong' on Iran; 12.10.2011
[6] see also Traditional Role, Equilibrium rather than Exclusion and Potenzial zum Partner
[7] see also Fragile Use of the Gulf Dictatorships, Stabile Conditions and Hegemonic Conflict at the Gulf (II)
[8] see also The Turkish Model
[9] "Das wäre eine sehr unerwartete Eskalation"; 15.10.2011