Increasing Power at the Gulf

BERLIN/KUWAIT CITY (Own report) – Berlin is considering deploying German fighter jets in Kuwait to systematically expand its foothold in this Middle East Emirate. It is not yet clear, whether the Bundeswehr’s Tornados, currently participating in the anti-IS war, will be removed from Incirlik Air Base or where they may otherwise be stationed. The Kingdom of Jordan or the British colony on Cyprus (Akrotiri and Dhekelia) may be alternatives. Kuwait is also an option, given the fact that the German government has been intensifying its cooperation with the Emirate for quite some time – not only economically but also with arms deliveries. Increasing the German military presence in Kuwait would raise German-Kuwaiti relations to new heights. The Bundeswehr would also gain another foothold directly at the Persian Gulf. So far, particularly the US, British and French armed forces have a presence in that region.

Base of Anti-IS Operations

Deployment without UN-Mandate

This would not be the first deployment of larger Bundeswehr contingents in Kuwait. When – in violation of international law – the US government prepared its aggression against Iraq, the Bundeswehr deployed up to 250 NBC defense personnel and six “Fuchs” armored NBC reconnaissance vehicles to Kuwait to protect western troops against possible Iraqi nuclear, bacteriological, or chemical counter attacks.[3] Immediately prior to the US invasion of Iraq, there had also been rumors that elite soldiers from the German KSK “Special Forces Commando” were making exercises in Kuwait.[4] The German troops in that Golf emirate were not covered by a UN mandate, but were sent into this crisis region within the framework of the US’ “Enduring freedom” anti-terror operation.

Arms Exports

In addition to the Bundeswehr presence, Germany has been cooperating for quite a few years with this Middle East country in the arms sector. Germany has repeatedly delivered arms, particularly machine guns. In 2014, a German arms manufacturer made a presentation of the Boxer Multi-Role Armored Vehicle (MRAV) in the Emirate.[5] Two years later, the German Federal Security Council agreed to export the Fuchs 2 armored transport vehicle to Kuwait “for testing.”[6] According to a recent armament report published by the Joint Conference Church and Development (Gemeinsame Konferenz Kirche und Entwicklung GKKE), Kuwait is one of “Germany’s most important armament’s customers.”[7]

High Ranking Visitors

A Mega-Deal

For more than 40 years, The Federal Republic of Germany has maintained economic relations with the emirate. In 1974, the Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) purchased shares in the German auto manufacturer Daimler-Benz – today Daimler.[9] At the time, that deal was rated “the largest in German economic history.”[10] Ten years ago, the Daimler investments notwithstanding, Kuwait was considered a major investor in Germany – also in the real estate branch, in the manufacturing sector and in banking.[11] The German Foreign Ministry currently notes, “Kuwait holds considerable investments in Germany and is a shareholder in distinguished German enterprises.”[12]

Economic Perspectives

Military Bases

The expansion of Berlin’s activities is not least of interest because it reinforces Germany’s foothold at the Persian Gulf – on the whole. Until now, Germany’s most important economic relations had been with the United Arab Emirates (trade volume in 2016: €15.5 billion, surpassing that of South Africa) and Saudi Arabia (trade volume in 2016: €8 billion). Since some time, Berlin has been expanding its relations with Qatar. Its close relations with Kuwait will round off Germany’s options for gaining influence. Should German Tornados, in fact, be stationed in the Emirate, this would provide Germany another military base at the Persian Gulf alongside the “Air Warfare Center” that it periodically uses in the United Arab Emirates. Until now, the United States, the United Kingdom and France have a presence in the region.

Full article: Increasing Power at the Gulf (German Foreign Policy)

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