Germany and France’s interest in Africa

Germany’s effort to making a show of military force in Africa are aimed not just at crisis resolution in conflict areas but also at promoting and marketing German weaponry. However, this effort is not independent from the French rivalry factor.

When Germany achieved reunification in the 1990s, it began trying to play a more active role in the international arena. Germany’s interest in Africa has grown in recent years, in line with the continent’s increasing geo-economic and geopolitical importance. Germany’s participation in the international peace force in Afghanistan and the gradual German intervention in the crises in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa were signals of the transformation of German foreign policy. In the same way, it may be said that with the changes that came with the Arab Spring, German moves to assume a larger role in North Africa have gained speed. On this point, answers need to be found for some basic questions such as “what are the repercussions of Germany’s interest in Africa”, “how are the transformations in the Arab world affecting Germany’s policies in Africa?”, and “what impact will this interest have on relations with other countries such as France?”

The Security and Strategic Dimension of Germany’s Presence in Africa

The basic turning point in Germany’s Africa policy was the 11 September terror attacks. After this point Germany began to make itself felt in Africa as it had never before done. But it is noteworthy that this turning point began in the Horn of Africa. Germany signed a military agreement with Djibouti that gave German forces the right to make use of Djibouti’s harbors and airfields. The agreement allows over 1,200 German naval troops to do surveillance along the East coasts, showing a presence in a strategic region connecting the Mediterranean to Africa. The agreement is also important as it is the first security agreement which Germany has signed with an Arab or African State since the end of the Second World War.

The Arab Spring and the ‘German Spring’ in North Africa

It may be said that the Arab Spring provided Germany with major opportunities to strengthen its role in North Africa. But according to an article by German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle published on 13 January 2012, there are three important risks which might threaten the Arab Spring countries: the first of these risks is the return of the deposed totalitarian regimes; the second is economic failure which could cause social tensions; the third is the possibility that extremist religious movements will grow and threaten democracy. In the face of these risks Germany has sent groups known as transformation teams to the region and appointed a special representative to the Arab world inside the German Foreign Ministry.

Full article: Germany and France’s interest in Africa (Turkish Weekly)

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