Oil for Arms Exports

BERLIN/ACCRA | | ghana

BERLIN/ACCRA (Own report) - The German Navy will participate in a large-scale maneuver in the Gulf of Guinea. The maneuver "Obangame Express 2014" is scheduled for mid-April and is aimed at warding off pirates, active off the West African coast. According to the German government, the maneuver will serve to strengthen military "cooperation" among the coastal states. This operation conforms fully with Berlin's strategy of arming "partner countries" in Africa with its weapons exports and training their troops, to avoid the costly intervention of German troops. An arms fair for the "total surveillance" of coastal areas has recently taken place in Ghana's capital Accra. The participating German arms manufacturers see Ghana as a lucrative potential market. The oil deposits off the Ghanaian coast are to be protected against enemy exploitation, but rather than use these resources to fight poverty within the country, the foreign exchange revenue from their sales are to purchase arms from western industries.

Large-Scale Maneuver in the Gulf of Guinea

The German Navy has announced its participation in the large-scale "Obangame Express" maneuver, scheduled for mid-April in the Gulf of Guinea. According to the Bundeswehr, two frigates and a "logistical support vessel" of the navy's "Operations and Training Unit" will be dispatched to the West African coast. The maneuver, under US command, will focus on anti-piracy missions. According to the German naval command, a Nigerian- Ghanaian "Mission Staff," commanded by an admiral, will be installed on a German frigate to train mission leadership and communication techniques. Another German vessel will host African "boarding teams" to be trained in apprehending and boarding foreign vessels. The Africans could "draw on the experience" the German navy has assembled in the course of the EU's anti-piracy missions off the coast of Somalia.[1]

Regional Military "Fitness"

At the same time, the military insists on the difference between this West African mission and the EU's "Atalanta" operation, at the Horn of Africa: "in the sense of help to self-help, the coastal countries at the Gulf of Guinea - from the Ivory Coast to the Congo - should be readied to better assume maritime security of this coastal area."[2] The German government had declared something very similar concerning "Obangame Express 2014": "That maneuver serves the fitness of regional maritime capabilities." Numerous other German "projects" for combating piracy off the West African coast were also mentioned, such as "courses in the law of the sea for the coast guards of Benin and Togo" or the seminar on "Counter-Piracy and Transnational Organized Crime" at the "Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center" (KAIPTC), in Ghana's capital Accra. Germany had contributed to the construction of the KAIPTC. German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder was on hand at its inauguration ceremonies in 2004. One of its conference halls is named "Schröder Hall" in his honor. In general, "the elaboration of a comprehensive approach to possible EU support measures in relationship to overcoming the risks and challenges of the Gulf of Guinea" are under consideration.[3]

Arms Exports Included

The German government's declarations concerning the "Obangame Express 2014" maneuver correspond to Berlin's military political strategy, of avoiding the costly interventions of German troops, by training the troops and exporting hardware for the arms buildup of the forces in the African "partner countries." For example, at the Bundeswehr's Conference of the High Command in the fall of 2012, Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed the intention of "holding the regional partners accountable," because "the EU and NATO cannot solve all of the security policy problems alone." Berlin's foreign and military policy think tanks are emphatically discussing this "Enable and Enhance Initiative" (E2I) concept. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[4]) Merkel had laid the cornerstone of this "getting fit initiative" back in September 2011 in her speech given at the Bergedorf Round Table of Berlin's Koerber Foundation. "If we ... are going to recoil from engaging in a conflict ourselves, it usually helps little to encourage other countries and organizations. We must also empower those countries intending to intervene." This "explicitly" includes the "export of weaponry."[5]

Total Surveillance

Especially Ghana is one of those countries, massively engaged in combating piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. In the run-up to the "Obangame Express 2014" maneuvers, the country's capital hosted a conference entitled "Coastal and Maritime Surveillance," which focused on the "total surveillance" of the West African coastline.[6] The European Union's contribution to this enterprise was explained by Rear Admiral Jürgen Ehle, Chairman of the Working Group of the EU Military Committee. According to the Bundeswehr, this is the "working muscle" of the committee, which "is responsible for the content-related preparations, the paperwork and documentation, as well as obtaining the accords of the implicated nations."[7] Before Ehle assumed this post in Brussels, he served in the German Ministry of Defense.

Arms Fair

The "Coastal and Maritime Surveillance" conference was essentially an arms fair, where helicopters and surveillance drones for providing security for submarine oil fields and drilling rigs were presented and advertized. German - European arms manufacturers, including Airbus Defence and Space (EADS), the Friedrich Lürssen Docks and Atlas Electronics were on hand. The representative of the latter, spoke on the protection of "critical infrastructures" using patrol boats.[8] Alongside data processing systems for warships, Atlas Electronics produces also submersible drones and torpedoes.

Fall by the Wayside

Ghana is of interest to Germany and its arms industries for various reasons. The country has expansive off-shore oil deposits; its off-shore "Jubilee" oil field is estimated to contain 800 million barrels. To provide security for its off-shore oil production, of which large quantities are exported to EU countries, the government is relying on the most modern military hardware. At the same time, its oil sales put it in a position to buy these in grand style, also to the benefit of German arms manufacturers. The profit goes to the arms industries, and once again, the war on poverty falls by the wayside.

[1] NDR Info "Streitkräfte und Strategien" 08.03.2014.
[2] Über den Einsatz- und Ausbildungsverband 2014. www.marine.de.
[3] Bundestagsdrucksache 17/14659 29.08.2013.
[4] See African Interventions.
[5] "Deutschland weiß um seine Verantwortung in der Welt". Presse- und Informationsamt der Bundesregierung 09.09.2011.
[6] www.coastalsurveillanceafrica.com.
[7] Die NATO: So ist das Bündnis organisiert. Die Bundeswehr. Magazin des Deutschen Bundeswehr-Verbandes, April 2014.
[8] Coastal and Maritime Surveillance (Konferenzprogramm). www.coastalsurveillanceafrica.com.