Does Germany have a new Middle East policy?

Violent conflicts are spreading throughout the Middle East. Germany is working with Egypt, supporting Saudi Arabia and delivering weapons to the peshmerga – but the government opposition in Berlin is critical.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has been in office for almost a year. Soon he’s due to visit Germany. In March, German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel extended an invitation on behalf of Chancellor Angela Merkel. That marked a departure from the government’s earlier position that parliamentary elections in Egypt were a precondition for an official state visit by the president.

The Egyptian parliament was dissolved in 2012 by the constitutional court, and it’s not yet clear when the next election will take place. In Berlin, questions are being raised about whether this shift represents a new direction in relations between Germany and Egypt.

A visit by CDU/CSU parliamentary group chairman Volker Kauder to Cairo before Easter seemed to confirm this. Kauder met with el-Sissi for talks, which he said were mainly about economic interests. “The Egyptian government hopes to attract more German investment,” he told DW, adding that politicians have a duty to support such efforts.

Conflict in Yemen

The Foreign Ministry has deemed Saudi airstrikes on Houthi militia targets in Yemen to be legitimate. The government of Yemen turned to the international community with an “extremely threatening situation,” said ministry spokesman Martin Schäfer. “According to international law, it is legitimate to respond to a request for help by a democratically elected head of state.”

Uncertainty surrounding Iraq

The situation in Iraq is equally complicated. According to Nouripour, the German government is not helping to achieve stability. Rather, he said, Germany has supplied weapons to the peshmerga in order to assist the Kurdish fighters in their struggle to counteract the advance of the “Islamic State.” However, the weapons are being used by the peshmerga to drive the Sunnis out of Kirkuk.

Full article: Does Germany have a new Middle East policy? (Deutsche Welle)

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