Question of Liberties

BERLIN |

BERLIN (Own report) - German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is using his trip to North Africa to promote the new "counter-terrorism cooperation" with the Arab world. His visits to Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria will focus not only on expanding economic cooperation, but particularly on the common struggle "against terrorism and extremism," according to the foreign ministry. After her talks with the Arab League's Secretary General, Nabil al-Arabi, the European Union's foreign policy coordinator, Federica Mogherini had already announced relevant projects including intensified intelligence sharing. New "security attachés" will be working out of EU foreign missions in some of the Arab countries, while keeping contact to their respective intelligence services. Experts are demanding that intelligence cooperation be intensified, also within the EU. The struggle is aimed at the Jihadists, who had achieved their breakthrough, due to the rearmament by the West and its Middle Eastern allies waging wars against the governments of Libya and Syria. The "counter-terrorism cooperation" will strengthen the authoritarian structures, against which large sectors of the populations of several Arab countries had been so massively revolting in 2010 and 2011.

Steinmeier in the Maghreb

At the beginning of a new round of the West's "war on terror," the German Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, had begun a four-day visit to the Maghreb on Thursday. After his first stop in Morocco, he will travel today to Tunisia and continue on to Algeria tomorrow. Steinmeier, whose visit is officially focusing on enhancing bilateral - particularly economic - relations, is being accompanied by numerous business representatives. For German businesses, Tunisia is an important low-salary country. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[1]) For Germany, Algeria has become a major non-European oil supplier over the past few years, especially since the traditional Libyan imports are no longer assured, due to the civil war.[2] According to Berlin's plans, Morocco was to play an important role in the unsuccessful "Desertec" electricity project.[3] Germany is still involved in an expensive wind energy project in that country, in spite of the "Desertec" project's annulment. However, Steinmeier's visit to the Maghreb will particularly focus on the common struggle "against terrorism and extremism," as the foreign ministry has announced.[4]

Focal Point - Libya

In fact, now that western countries have bombed the government in neighboring Libya out of office, with the cooperation of jihadist militias, (german-foreign-policy.com reported [5]), leading to the latter's reinforcement, two of the three countries Steinmeier is about to visit -Algeria and Tunisia - see themselves confronted with a new wave of terrorism. The Libyan jihadist militias, which have now founded a branch of the Islamic State (IS), are assisting kindred spirits in neighboring Tunisia. Experts had pointed out already a year ago that the Tunisian government had to station approx. 5,000 additional soldiers at the Libyan border, to prevent systematic infiltration.[6] Already back in early 2013, Libya-based jihadists had launched a daring terrorist attack on a natural gas production site in Aménas, Algeria. Algerian observers are currently warning that jihadist formations are once again operating in Algeria.[7]

Intelligence Services and Police

Since jihadists are no longer committing terrorist attacks only in their own countries in the Arab world - also to overthrow governments the West disapproves of - but have begun now to attack in Europe, Berlin and the EU are reacting with a new wave of repression, which they are trying to combine with systematic efforts to win influence in Arab countries. At the beginning of this week, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini received in Brussels the General Secretary of the Arab League, Nabil al-Arabi, for talks also on intensifying cooperation between intelligence agencies. The "sharing of intelligence" between the espionage agencies of EU states and those of the Arab World is supposed to be expanded. Specifically named were Egypt, the dictatorships at the Gulf, Yemen and Algeria - where Steinmeier arrives tomorrow. Turkey as well as diverse African and Asian nations are to be included. Cooperation between the intelligence agencies is supposed to include so-called "security attachés" being stationed at EU missions in Arab countries. They are supposed to maintain contact to the local intelligence services. It is contended that the expansion of repression will, in Brussels, presumably include support for the police forces in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as for special measures to be taken against the unlicensed arms trade.

Accompanied by Cultural Delegation

Germany and the EU are also officially making efforts to form a broad alliance with the elites in the Arab world. "The perception" of a "clash of civilizations" must be avoided and instead, an "Alliance of civilizations" against violent jihadism must be the objective, explained the EU's Representative for Foreign Affairs.[8] Yesterday, Foreign Minister Steinmeier set off for the Maghreb, accompanied also by a cultural delegation, which, according to the foreign ministry, is supposed to help facilitate "the social exchange." This is evidently aimed at the more liberal-oriented pro-western forces throughout the Arab world.[9] "We have to make it clear that we are interested in the political, economical and social development of the region, and that we are prepared to support the new, forces pushing for liberal conditions," advised Dirk Messner, Director of the publicly-funded German Development Institute (GDI). EU countries must win the confidence of the liberal Arab spectrum, because currently, they "are not in good standing with the original Arab Spring opposition movements," after all, they had "supported the earlier authoritarian rulers."[10]

Domestic Repression

In fact, with their new cooperation in repression, Berlin and Brussels are again reinforcing precisely those authoritarian forces of the Arab world, against whom the rebellions in late 2010 and early 2011 had been directed. The cooperation being sought by the West, with the intelligence services needs the acquiescence of domestic repression as a prerequisite, the General Secretary of the Arab League, Al Arabi, is quoted to have said. "The cooperation of the states" have "their limitations" where this cooperation clashes with the "domestic situation in the country," "for example, on the question of domestic liberties."[11] In Egypt, Al Arabi's homeland, behind the excuse of the war on terror, around 1,600 people have been killed during the repression of protests. More than 15,000 opponents of the regime, including jihadists as well as liberals, have been imprisoned - some without trial. Hundreds have been given the death sentence in summary trials, criticized around the world. Egypt's repressive apparatus will be among the first to be addressed in this new "anti-terror cooperation."

More Surveillance

The expansion of cooperation in repression includes also the recently sharply criticized intelligence cooperation between western countries. This is probably the case for transatlantic espionage ties, but particularly for services within the EU. "The sharing of information between intelligence services functions better than the public is aware," Claude Moniquet, Director of the European Strategic and Security Center in Brussels is quoted to have said. However there are difficulties because the national services still have varying criteria and are working under divergent legal parameters.[12] This must change. The new phase of the "war on terror" - as did the preceding one - will ratchet up secret service surveillance even further also in the European countries.

Other information on the new phase of the "war on terror" can be found here: Liberated by the West, From Kurdistan to Alawitestan and The End of an Epoch (I).

[1] See For the Benefit of the Tunisian People (I) and For the Benefit of the Tunisian People (II).
[2] See Die Erdöl-Schutztruppe.
[3] See Ein gescheitertes Schlüsselprojekt.
[4] Außenminister Steinmeier besucht Maghreb-Staaten. www.auswaertiges-amt.de 22.01.2015.
[5] See Eine Atmosphäre der Straflosigkeit and Die kommenden Kräfte.
[6] Stefano Maria Torelli: Tunisian Jihadists Establishing New Networks with Libyan Islamists. The Jamestown Foundation, Terrorism Monitor, 31.05.2014.
[7] Nazim Fethi: Algeria border woes affect region. magharebia.com 12.12.2014.
[8] EU tightens security, divisions remain on data exchange. www.ansamed.info 20.01.2015.
[9] Außenminister Steinmeier besucht Maghreb-Staaten. www.auswaertiges-amt.de 22.01.2015.
[10] Messner: "Dschihadismus vergleichbar mit Stalinismus". www.dw.de 21.01.2015.
[11], [12] Christoph Hasselbach: Bessere Kooperation gegen den Terror. www.dw.de 19.01.2015.