Letter of Warning from Doha

Germany's ambassador in Qatar warns that Berlin's approach to that Emirate has led to a loss of confidence and threatens to massively weaken Germany.

DOHA/BERLIN (Own report) – In a letter of warning, Germany's ambassador to Qatar warns of serious harm to diplomatic relations with that Middle Eastern country and urged Berlin to quickly change its strategy. The German government's campaign-like attacks against the Emirate based on double-standards, have provoked widespread resentment, not only within the general population, but also particularly in business and political circles. According to the ambassador, Germany has “lost” the “ significant confidence bonus” it had enjoyed in Qatar. The current mood is “miserable.” If Berlin does not want to lose further influence in the Middle East, a high-ranking public praise of the World Cup is urgently required. Already in the runup to the World Cup, German government advisors had been calling for expanding relations to Qatar. This is important not only in view of the emirate's huge natural gas reserves, but also because of its considerable political influence. Washington has just approved multi-billions worth of arms deliveries to Doha, not least because of China's growing influence throughout the Arabian Peninsula.

Dependent on Allies

German government advisors are calling on the German government to intensify its cooperation with Qatar. For one thing, the emirate has been acting as a regional power for some time and has repeatedly provided its services as mediator. It succeeded in establishing contacts to the Taliban and used it when the USA negotiated with the Taliban on its withdrawal from Afghanistan. They also helped Germany, when Berlin was unable on its own to bring back all German citizens from Afghanistan.[1] Qatar is also of significant importance as a gas supplier, because it has the world's third largest natural gas reserves.[2] In this context it is also important to note that Germany and the EU have “lost a great deal of influence” in the Middle East since 2011, according, for example, to a recent study by the German Institute of International and Security Affairs (SWP).[3] If, in fact, there should be a 'Zeitenwende' in security policy, the SWP study notes, “Germany must also prepare itself for dangers threatening to emanate from the Middle East,” such as undesirable migration, terrorism and nuclear proliferation. “This means that Germany and Europa need pro-western allies.”[4] Qatar would certainly be among them.

No Longer Dominated by the West

This demand comes at a time when the western countries – especially the USA – are losing their influence on the Arabian Peninsula. This is particularly the case for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – two countries, with which Qatar has had strained relations for years. Because of diverse political disagreements, that Emirate even suffered a comprehensive blockade by its neighbors from 2017 to 2021. In the meantime, a rapprochement has begun. Despite the western powers’ consistent and massive pressure, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are neither willing to participate in the anti-Russia sanctions, nor are they willing to increase their oil extraction, to facilitate an oil embargo against Russia. On the contrary, they have even pushed through a reduction in production in the OPEC + cartel. Both are also increasing their cooperation with China and, despite strong complaints from Washington, have pushed through the use of Huawei technology to set up their 5G networks.[5] Qatar is also drawing increasingly closer to the People's Republic of China. During Emir Tamim Hamad al Thani’s visit to Beijing, during the 2022 Winter Olympics, both sides announced their planes for expanding their cooperation, including within the framework of the New Silk Road.[6] Moreover, since September, Qatar is an official dialogue partner to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SOC).

Double Standards

In this situation, the German government’s campaign-like attacks on Qatar,[7] based on the usual double standards, have now led to serious harm to diplomatic relations. Already in the run-up to the opening of the Soccer World Cup, in reference to the public criticism coming from Berlin, Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al Thani had stated, “We are annoyed by the double standards.”[8] Germany has “no problem with us” when it needs liquefied gas or investments, but if Doha hosts a sporting event, “other criteria are applied.” The appearance made by the German soccer team and particularly that of Germany’s Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, who posed for cameras in Qatar wearing a “One Love” armband, have provoked widespread resentment. It was reported that many were saying, “let’s see if the Germans will be wearing that armband when they sign their gas deal.”[9] A government source in Doha has been quoted to have said, Qatar’s government “was very annoyed that the minister [Fraeser, editor's note] had been much more conciliatory and polite during talks,” than she had been in her “public appearances.” If you really want to be successful in a particular matter, you would do exactly the opposite.[10]

“Loss of Confidence Bonus”

Germany’s Ambassador to Qatar, Claudius Fischbach has now sent a letter of warning to the German Foreign Ministry. The letter was immediately leaked to the media. “Germany has experienced a significant confidence bonus in Qatar in recent years,” the letter says, “the trust,” however, has been lost “in the past few weeks.”[11] Qatar sees itself as a victim of “an unprecedented media campaign;” the German behavior at the Soccer World Cup was “widely and uniformly criticized for showing disrespect to a foreign culture.” “The current mood towards Germany in local business circles, traditionally pro-German,” notes Fischbach, “is described to me as miserable.” The Ambassador warned, in relationship to Berlin’s foreign policy and economic interests, “We don’t need to spend much time discussing how important Qatar is to us as a pro-Western ally.” To salvage the relations, “a very high-ranking public statement” recognizing the very good implementation of the World Cup and satisfaction with the new LNG supply agreement is the least that is now required, as well as an official affirmation that the German government desires to maintain the “traditionally good” relationships.

Drones for the Emirate

Until now, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has contented himself with praising the recent LNG deal with Qatar as a “building block” for Germany’s future energy supply. He has also announced that he is “very happy” that the agreement was reached.[12] The United States is dealing with Qatar, the Soccer World Cup as well as the geostrategic power struggle surrounding the Emirate very differently. Right on time for the halftime in the US vs. Iran match, the US State Department announced that it had just granted a $1 billion sale of counter-drone technology. This involves 10 Fixed Site composite systems as well as numerous single weapons and component elements, which include 200 Coyote interceptors that can be deployed against enemy drones. “The proposed sale,” explains the State Department, “will improve Qatar’s ability to meet current and future threats.”[13] Thus the USA is “helping to improve the security of a friendly country that continues to be an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East.”


[1] See also Deutsche Bürokraten.

[2] See also Erdgas und Panzer.

[3], [4] Guido Steinberg: Katars Außenpolitik. SWP-Studie 2022/S 12. Berlin, 31.10.2022.

[5] See also The End of US Domination at the Persian Gulf and The West against the Rest (II).

[6] China, Qatar to build higher level of bilateral strategic partnership. news.cgtn.com 06.02.2022.

[7] See also Europas Standards (II).

[8] „Uns ärgert die Doppelmoral”. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 07.11.2022.

[9], [10] Christoph Ehrhardt: Diplomatischer Flurschaden. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 30.11.2022.

[11] Matthias Gebauer, Veit Medick: „Die Stimmung wird mir als miserabel beschrieben”. spiegel.de 02.12.2022.

[12] Scholz nennt Katar-Gas „Baustein” in künftiger Energieversorgung. rnd.de 30.11.2022.

[13] Lee Ferran: US approves potential $1 billion counter-drone tech sale to Qatar. breakingdefense.com 01.12.2022.