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Feudal Investors (III)

[Image: 95_vae.gif]BERLIN/RIAD/ABU DHABI
(Own report) - The German government has approved new weapons exports to areas of tension at the Persian Gulf. According to recent reports, Qatar will receive 36 "leopard 2" model tanks, while other states of the Arabian Peninsula can also be supplied with German weapons. Berlin is thereby reinforcing Iran's Arab rivals, to prevent Teheran from enhancing its position. Germany is simultaneously broadening its economic cooperation with these feudal Arab states. In light of the economic crisis, German companies are focusing on the wealth of these oil monarchies, whose ruling clans dispose of billions in oil sector revenues. Whereas numerous German companies are demanding a "piece of the pie" of the wide-ranging Arab investment programs, it is particularly the German auto industry that is seeking new backing from these prosperous sheiks. One can hear in Berlin that the crisis could be possibly used to institutionalize the long sought linkage between the Gulf States and the EU. Berlin is pushing for a rapid conclusion of an EU trade agreement with these Arabian countries. The German-Arabian military buildup and this business offensive is being overshadowed by accusations of torture brought against a prominent member of the Abu Dhabi ruling family, with whom Berlin maintains close contact.

By allowing new arms exports to Qatar, which, according to reports, have a fundamental character and could be followed by more deliveries to other nations of the Arabian Peninsula, the German government is strengthening Iran's traditional rivals - weakening an ambitious Teheran. This is part of a strategy proposed by German government advisors, since quite some time. "In the interests of maintaining a regional equilibrium" the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) wrote last fall, it is necessary to "support the policy of containment through engagement, as it is applied by the Arabian Gulf states, particularly Saudi Arabia, in relationship to Iran."[1] This includes the delivery of war technology that can be brought into position against Teheran. Berlin sees this as an appropriate basis for being able to switch from open war threats against, to business cooperation with Teheran, while not allowing the Iranian government to enhance its power. "The clever linkage of a containment policy to repeated offers of cooperation," wrote the SWP recently "could form the basis of a common Iran strategy for the US-Americans, the Europeans and the pro-Western Arab states."[2]

Rich Investors
The armaments cooperation accompanies an intensive business lobbying, being massively pushed by Berlin, in an effort to acquire new profit perspectives for crisis-shaken German enterprises. Over the past few weeks, various billion Euro deals, between German companies and Persian Gulf states, have caught public attention. First, a sovereign wealth fund (SWF) from Abu Dhabi bought about two billion Euros in stocks in the Daimler Corp. This German automobile company needed the money to make it through the crisis.[3] Then the announcement followed from Qatar that the ruling house wanted to invest in the Porsche Corp. - good news for the crisis stricken company in Stuttgart.[4] For months, Berlin has been regularly dropping in on the states of the Arabian Gulf in search of an investor for Opel. The deals as well as other business in the billions of Euros are being promoted by the boulevard press. "Hochtief is building a shopping center in the superlative," wrote the "Bild" newspaper, when the company in Essen recently landed a contract to build an eight-kilometer long shopping center in Qatar. "The sheiks are making our largest construction company rich!"[5]

850 Billions
In fact, in light of the economic collapse, Berlin has greatly intensified its efforts to obtain access to the Arabian Gulf states petro-billions. This month alone, the Minister of the Economy, Guttenberg and the Prime Minister of the federal land of Hesse, Koch (CDU) both visited the Arabian Peninsula. In Riad, Guttenberg opened a new German-Saudi Arabian business liaison bureau and took part in the festivities at the opening of a bilateral German-Emirati Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Abu Dhabi. Scarcity of money is unknown at the Persian Gulf. By 2012, Saudi Arabia wants to invest about US $400 billion in its infrastructure and the United Arab Emirates has earmarked for the same time period about US $600 billion.[6] Abu Dhabi's large state-owned investment company, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) has unrivaled assets - estimated at around US $850 billion.[7]

Only One Market
To facilitate access to the wealth of the Arabian feudal clans, Berlin is promoting a contractual free trade zone between the EU and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).[8] The talks, which were initiated in 1991 and repeatedly interrupted, were broken off at the end of last year. Saudi Arabia was not prepared, in principle, to do without its export tax. Through German pressure, the talks have been relaunched. At an EU-GCC meeting in Maskat, States Minister in the Foreign Ministry, Günter Gloser (SPD), negotiated on the free trade agreement at the end of April, and last week at a blue-ribbon conference of the Bertelsmann Foundation in Riad, German Minister of the Economy, Guttenberg, made a plea for a speedy finalization of the agreement. "An agreement is possible," alleged Guttenberg - and received protest from the GCC: The Saudi finance minister complained that the Europeans, "consider the Gulf states merely as markets and lack respect."[9]

Strategic Partnership
Berlin is prepared to formally upgrade relations to the GCC states, if they accept the free trade agreement. At the Bertelsmann Conference in Riad, Economy Minister Guttenberg said he sees the potential of a "strategic partnership".[10] Just shortly before, representatives of the EU had spoken of a "strategic relationship" between Brussels and the GCC. This would raise the entire GCC to a status that, at the moment, Germany only has with the United Arab Emirates. Germany has a "strategic partnership" with the United Arab Emirates that not only includes intensive economic but also military cooperation. ( reported.[11]) Berlin's plans, in fact, are aimed at linking the entire GCC to the European center, which amounts to integrating the Middle Eastern resource rich areas - including the arms and war component - into the German-European hegemonic system.

The links to the feudal Arab Gulf states are being overshadowed by serious accusations of a prominent member of the ruling family of Abu Dhabi, Sheik Issa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan having been involved in torture. Sheik Issa is a businessman in Abu Dhabi and the son of the country's founding father, Sheik Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. A video shows him in the process of torturing and attempting to kill one of his business partners, who he thought had cheated him. Sheik Issa was stuffing sand down the man's throat, beating him with a nailed board, singeing his genitals and driving over him with a sport utility vehicle.[12] The victim miraculously survived. The culprit has yet to be brought to court. For years there have been recurring rumors of torture in the United Arab Emirates, some of these reports have pointed to at least the connivance of some of the ruling Arab clans. In spite of this, they remain close partners of the German government in the containment of Iran and the support of the crisis battered German industry.

[1] Johannes Reissner: Irans Selbstverständnis als Regionalmacht. Machtstreben im Namen antikolonialer Modernität; SWP-Studie S 29, Oktober 2008. See also Containment Course and Equilibrium rather than Exclusion
[2] Guido Steinberg: Saudi-Arabien als Partner deutscher Nahostpolitik; SWP-Studie S 35, Dezember 2008. See also The Persian Pipeline
[3] see also Feudalinvestoren
[4] see also Feudalinvestoren (II)
[5] Hochtief baut Einkaufszentrum der Superlative; Bild 28.04.2009
[6] Araber verlangen mehr deutsches Engagement; Handelblatt 11.05.2009
[7] Opel und Porsche reizen Dubai-Investoren nicht; Handelblatt 10.05.2009
[8] Dem 1981 gegründeten Gulf Cooperation Council gehören Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi-Arabien und die Vereinigten Arabischen Emirate an.
[9] "Kronberger Nahostgespräche" in Riad; 11.05.2009
[10] Netanjahu kündigt baldige Friedensgespräche an; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 13.05.2009
[11] see also Gulf State Military Partner, Partner in Occupation and German Arab Maneuvers
[12] Der Scheich als Foltermeister; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 07.05.2009