A President's Policy

BERLIN (Own report) - Frank-Walter Steinmeier, President-elect of the Federal Republic of Germany is the epitome of the past two decades of Berlin's expansionist policy - from the war over Kosovo to intervention in the Syrian war. As State Secretary in the Federal Chancellery, Steinmeier was implicated in the aggression against Yugoslavia in the spring of 1999, with which Germany, in violation of international law, entered its first war of aggression since 1945. As head of the Federal Chancellery, he had participated in the struggle to obtain access to Russia's vast natural gas reserves. As Foreign Minister, he was massively striving to roll back Russia's political influence by associating Ukraine with the EU, even condoning a coup - with fascist participation - in Kiev. Steinmeier's activities had also been influenced by the so-called war on terror. In the Chancellery, he played a leading role in cooperation with the CIA's torture program. In the fall of 2002, he helped to prevent an innocent native of Bremen from being released to Germany from the US Guantanamo torture camp. He was complicit in the interrogation of German suspects in Syrian and Lebanese torture chambers. Just recently, Steinmeier provided political support to a jihadist militia, classified a terror organization by the German judiciary.

Violating International Law

The war of aggression against Yugoslavia in the spring of 1999 was the first major foreign policy operation, in which Frank-Walter Steinmeier was involved - at the time as State Secretary in the Federal Chancellery and as Coordinator for the Federal Intelligence Services under Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. Schröder, himself, later called the aggression against Yugoslavia a "violation of international law." "We dispatched our planes and Tornados to Serbia and, together with NATO; they bombed a sovereign country - without authorization from the Security Council."[1] As State Secretary in the Chancellery, Steinmeier had been deeply involved in preparing and waging that war. As Commissioner for the intelligence services, he must have been aware that the reports of alleged Yugoslav massacres, with which the German government justified the war, had been clearly classified by the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) as war propaganda. A journalist, well informed on the intelligence services, had reported already in April 1999 that, "Pullach [the BND Headquarters] considers many of the stories of mass graves and atrocities allegedly committed by Serbs to be intelligence-related disinformation for the purpose of making policy."[2] Steinmeier was one of those politicians, and the BND's findings did not prevent him from supporting the war.

With Fascists and Oligarchs

Following the war over Kosovo, Russia quickly became a major policy issue for the Chancellery, headed by Steinmeier, beginning in July 1999. The war over Kosovo had not only significantly weakened Belgrade but also its traditional partner Moscow. Berlin was now striving to obtain access to Russia's vast natural gas reserves, necessitating a period of cooperation with Russia. As Prime Minster in Lower Saxony (1990 - 1998), Schröder had initiated the natural gas cooperation together with one of his closest collaborators at the time, Frank-Walter Steinmeier. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[3]) Both continued this cooperation in the German Chancellery. In the years that followed - thanks also to Steinmeier, who became foreign minister in 2005 - Berlin was able to secure a strong position for German companies in the production of Russian gas and its pipeline transport to the EU.[4] Starting in 2007, this did not prevent the foreign minister, at the time, to set the course for Ukraine's EU association, aimed at expanding Germany's sphere of influence eastward, at Russia's expense. After four years in the opposition, Steinmeier - again, foreign minster - was implicated in the Kiev coup in February 2014. To curb Russia's influence, he also promoted the leader of one of Ukraine's fascist parties [5] and infamous Ukrainian oligarchs [6] to acceptable negotiating partners. The consequences, this has had on Ukraine, are well known.

Kidnapping and Torture

Beyond Germany's expansion into eastern and southeastern Europe, the so-called war on terror was formative for Steinmeier - particularly during his incumbency as head of the German Chancellery. Beginning in October 2001, German government agencies had provided the legwork for the CIA's systematic kidnapping of suspects, taking them to secret torture chambers in Europe, Africa, and Asia. BND agents and other secret services and police officials were even on hand during interrogations of kidnapped German suspects.[7] At the time, Steinmeier, as the BND supervisor in the chancellery, as well as a participant in the chancellery's "security round tables," was repeatedly involved in the issues of kidnapping and torture. Later, the liberal Swiss politician, Dick Marty, serving as the European Council's special investigator into the crimes committed by the secret services, complained of Berlin's collaboration with the CIA.[8] A native of Bremen, Murat Kurnaz, owes four of his years of incarceration at the Guantánamo torture camp to a German government decision, Steinmeier helped formulate. In the fall of 2002, the US government had wanted to release Kurnaz - who had been kidnapped, in 2001, by US officials, tortured and held captive in Guantanámo - to German custody. The US officials had drawn the conclusion that Kurnaz was innocent. After consultations in the chancellery with Steinmeier participating, it was decided October 29, 2002, not to permit Kurnaz' entry into Germany from the United States. A short time later, the BND noted that this decision had "even caused stupefaction among the Americans." The chancellery's decision meant that Kurnaz was only released from the US torture chamber on August 24, 2006, after a change in government in Berlin.[9]

Intelligence Service Cooperation with Syria

The fact that, in early 2002, the BND - under the supervision of the head of the chancellery - had entered talks with the Syrian foreign intelligence service on expanding their intelligence-gathering cooperation is also currently of interest. Alongside the question of blocking undesirable migration to Germany, the talks centered particularly on the "war on terror." However, cooperation with Damascus was not uncontested, even in the chancellery, because of the Syrian services' being notorious for using torture. Guido Steinberg, at the time, consultant to the chancellery on questions of international terrorism, reported that he had warned against too close of a cooperation with Syria "because of their practice of human rights violations."[10] Under Steinmeier's direction, the chancellery ignored these warnings, expanded their cooperation - and between October and December 2002 - repeatedly sent intelligence and police officials to Damascus and Beirut (at the time under strong Syrian influence) to be on hand at interrogations of German prisoners in torture chambers. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[11]) Steinmeier recently declared that he had deemed it "necessary" to "point out to the young President Assad ways to cooperate with the West."[12] However, since the summer of 2011, Berlin has been denouncing the use of torture - from which it had earlier benefitted - to help legitimize the pursuit of a coup in Damascus.

Backing for Jihadis

Recently, in Syria, Steinmeier's foreign ministry had supported jihadis, it had previously been fighting, even under de facto endorsement of torture. In early 2016, for example, Steinmeier was personally engaged in embellishing the Salafist Ahrar al Sham jihadi militia, to make it presentable as a partner for the peace talks. Ahrar al Sham is a close partner of the Syrian al Qaeda subsidiary, the main enemy in the previous "war on terror." Germany's justice system has accordingly classified that militia a "terrorist organization," outlawing any support it may be given. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[13]) In fact, that classification corresponds to an important aspect of the German Foreign Ministry's policy toward Syria under its former minister - the future President of Germany.

[1] Gerd Schumann: "Weil ich es selbst gemacht habe". junge Welt 24.04.2014.
[2] Hans Leyendecker, in: Süddeutsche Zeitung 14.04.1999.
[3] See 4,500 Kilometers around Berlin.
[4] See German-Russian Flagship Projects and Die Umgehung der Ukraine.
[5] See Vom Stigma befreit.
[6] See The Restoration of the Oligarchs (IV), Steinmeier and the Oligarchs and Zauberlehrlinge (III).
[7] See Oktober 2001, Mitwisser und Profiteure and Kein Eingeständnis.
[8] See Sinking into Barbarism (II).
[9] See Perioden des "Anti-Terror-Kriegs".
[10] See Deutsch-syrischer Herbst.
[11] See The Torturers, And Still Waiting and Steinmeier and His Accomplices.
[12] Steinmeier kritisiert Trumps Folter-Lob. www.n-tv.de 27.01.2017.
[13] See Steinmeier und das Oberlandesgericht and Terrorunterstützer.