Fresh Wind Down the Silk Road (II)

BERLIN/DUSHANBE (Own report) – German government advisors are considering a strategically oriented cooperation with China in Central Asia. Rather than rely solely on its own independent operations to win influence, “dialogue” with Beijing should be “intensified,” to learn “to what extent goals could be pursued in cooperation,” according to a recent study by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). The EU could thus “emphasize its foreign policy objectives in the region.” This must be seen in light of the fact that Germany and the EU have failed to significantly expand their influence in the five former Soviet Republics spanning from Turkmenistan to Tajikistan. This failure is particularly evident in Tajikistan. Whereas Russia and China are economically predominating over the country and – parallel to the United States – are currently intensifying their military activities, in spite of all its efforts, Berlin is only playing an independent role in the field of humanitarian and development aid.

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The Years of Terror (I)

LONDON/BERLIN/RIYADH (Own report) – With its continued worldwide support for Salafis, Germany’s close partner, Saudi Arabia, is relentlessly fertilizing the soil for the growth of jihadi terror, according to the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). “The consequences of Saudi Arabia’s support for Salafism are catastrophic,” the SWP concludes in light of IS/Daesh activities in Europe. British experts are also sharply criticizing cooperation with Riyadh. If one seriously wants to combat jihadi terror, one “should start by stopping the mass export of Wahhabism’s intolerance and hatred from Saudi Arabia,” an insider recommends. This is, however, countered by Germany, other European powers and North America’s relentless cooperation with the Saudi ruling clan. Just a few weeks ago, Chancellor Angela Merkel launched regular military cooperation with the Saudi armed forces. Out of consideration for Riyadh, the British government has been withholding an investigation, showing the – presumably Saudi – financiers of British jihadis. This had been made known only three days before the latest terror attack in London.

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Erdoğans Transition

BERLIN/ANKARA (Own report) – The German government is negotiating new German Turkish arms deals, as was confirmed by the German Ministry of Economics. Brigitte Zypries (SPD), Minister of the Economy, spoke with the CEO of Rheinmetall weapons manufacturer about upgrading the Turkish Leopard battle tank. “In principle,” such deals with NATO partners “can not to be restricted,” according to Berlin. The German government is also seeking to re-invigorate German-Turkish economic cooperation, to strengthen bilateral relations. Germany does not want to loose Turkey as a “bridge” connecting Germany and the EU to the Middle East. Under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Ankara is not only strengthening the country’s economy and, in the long run, make it one of the world’s top ten economies (“Vision 2023”), he is also planning to transform the country into an independent regional power, forming alliances as it chooses – no longer dependent on the western states. The reorientation of its foreign policy is accompanied by the country’s transformation into a presidential dictatorship. Continue reading

Germany’s Geopolitical Interests

BERLIN/ANKARA (Own report) – In spite of the Turkish government’s recent provocations, Berlin is steadfastly maintaining its cooperation with Ankara. Over the past few days, members of the Turkish government have affronted several EU countries as “fascist,” thereby again provoking sharp protests. For some time, human rights organizations and other critics of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have been up in arms over Ankara’s brutal violations of human and civil rights, its attempt to establish a presidential dictatorship and its arbitrary incarceration of citizens of foreign countries. Last week, Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that her objective was to prevent Turkey from “becoming even more alienated from us,” which is why we must persist in our cooperation. Since some time, government advisors in Germany’s capital have been warning that Ankara is seriously considering joining the Chinese-Russian Alliance (the Shanghai Cooperation Organization – SCO), and that, within the Turkish establishment, voices calling for Turkey to leave NATO are growing louder. That would be a serious setback for Berlin’s ambitions to become a world power, which for geostrategic reasons, is dependent on its cooperation with Ankara. Continue reading

An Essential Part of the West

WASHINGTON/BERLIN (Own report) – After Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential elections, the German government announced that it will continue its close cooperation with the United States and is calling for enhancing Germany’s position in the transatlantic relationship. Chancellor Angela Merkel “offered” President-elect Donald Trump “close cooperation” on the basis of particular conditions. Jürgen Hardt, the German government’s Coordinator of Transatlantic Relations, spoke of the “necessity for us Europeans, and particularly for us Germans, to assume more responsibility.” This “responsibility” would “grow” under a US President Trump and this concerns “all … instruments of foreign and security policy.” The call for more German influence reiterates positions recently voiced in Berlin’s foreign policy establishment, demanding “not to leave stability policy proposals up to the USA,” but to independently evaluate how to “shape the future global order.” German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen and Chairman of the Munich Security Conference, Wolfgang Ischinger, are linking this demand to a call for significantly increasing the German military budget.

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Three Years New Global Policymaking

BERLIN (Own report) – At this years German “Unification” celebrations in Dresden – three years after his first public appeal for an extensive German global policy – German President Joachim Gauck can look back on a successfully concluded phase. October 3, 2013, Gauck first called on Germany to become more involved – also militarily – in international affairs. The campaign initiated with his speech had been carefully prepared and was aimed at incorporating members of the German elite, such as university professors and journalists from leading media organs. The Bundeswehr’s recently adopted new White Paper is somewhat the official crowning of this campaign. In this paper, Berlin explicitly announced its commitment to global leadership, and, if necessary, to its enforcement by military means. At the same time, Berlin is pushing for the Bundeswehr’s arms build-up and the militarization of the EU. Germany is increasing its military involvement in the “Arc of Crisis,” as it is often called, meaning the arc of countries ranging from Mali, to Libya, Syria and Iraq.

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The Foreign Policy Tool Chest

BERLIN/MOSCOW (Own report) – German government advisors are speculating about Russia’s possible foreign policy offensives and discussing countermeasures to be taken. According to a research paper published by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), Russia “has continuously developed and further diversified” its foreign policy “tool chest” over the past few years. Today it includes “enhanced military capabilities, alongside numerous ‘soft’ tools.” like “the orchestrated disinformation campaign in traditional mass media and online social networks, the instrumentalization of ethnic minorities, use of civil society organizations, economic cooperation, or economic pressure.” The research paper describes fictitious scenarios, such as Russian support for extreme right-wing parties in Western European election campaigns as well as steps to ward off Russian influence. The types of international activities being ascribed to Russia are practices long in use by NATO countries – particularly Germany.

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Aiming at Confrontation

BERLIN/MOSCOW (Own report) – In view of the Duma elections in Russia, the German foreign policy establishment is discussing Russia’s future foreign policy and appropriate western reactions. This discussion is deemed necessary, given the fact that the institutions analyzing foreign policy had failed to foresee Russian initiatives both in the Ukrainian conflict and the Syrian war, according to a study by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). The SWP analysis indicates that politicians and experts were taken in by their own propaganda and their “stereotyping” interpretations “blinded” them to actual developments. In his contribution to the discussion, a well-known Russian expert wrote that, for the time being, Moscow as well as the western powers will most likely continue a confrontational foreign policy, because it is in their respective interests. With this policy, both sides would seek to consolidate their alliances and overcome the growing divisions within their own societies. In the West, this can be seen in the mantra-like “mention of Putin in the establishment parties’ elections and other campaigns.”

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Beyond the EU

BERLIN/NUUK/REYKJAVÍK/TÓRSHAVN (Own report) – Whereas the Brexit has been met with wholesale rejection by the German and other EU member states’ establishments, it was positively assessed in the little noticed countries of Northwest Europe, growing in strategic importance. Iceland’s president recently invited Great Britain to enhance its cooperation with the “triangle of non-EU countries,” meaning Iceland, and the autonomous regions Greenland and the Faroe Islands, which are part of the Kingdom of Denmark. Greenland left the European Community (EC) in 1982; the Faroe Islands have never been members and Iceland officially withdrew its application for EU membership in 2015. All three countries refuse nuclear weapons and NATO’s missile defense shield on their territories, while showing a greater openness towards Russia than most other western countries. Iceland and particularly Greenland have been growing in their strategic importance with the impending opening of Arctic sea routes and exploitation of Arctic natural resources. German experts have already suggested inciting Greenland to secede from Denmark. This would offer Germany greater influence on Greenland and consequently on the Arctic’s political, economic and military affairs.

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Auxiliary Troops Against Moscow (I)

BERLIN/KIEV (Own report) – One of Berlin’s government advisors is calling for Russia’s expulsion from the Council of Europe. The Russian government’s actions against the Crimean Tatars and its banning their Mejlis – a political organization – along with other measures, make it “no longer possible to justify continuing Russian membership in the Council of Europe,” according to a current position statement published by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). This demand is made at a time when the Crimean Tatars have been drawn into the spotlight throughout Europe, by the openly politicized Eurovision Song Contest (ESC). Whereas public perception of Crimean Tatars has been predominated by their 1944 deportation, their collaboration with the Nazis, which had preceded their deportation, has been obscured. As historians have ascertained, in 1942, “every tenth Tatar on the Crimean Peninsula was in the military” – on the side of Nazi Germany. Crimean Tatars fought on the side of the German Wehrmacht against the Soviet Union, excelling in the notorious “efforts to crush the partisan movement” and turned their Jewish neighbors over to the Nazis’ henchmen. Already in the 1920s, leading Tatar functionaries had complained of a “Jewification” of their communities, in their protests against Moscow’s resettlement measures of Jewish families. Later, exiled Crimean Tatars volunteered their services for the West’s cold war efforts to destabilize Moscow. The Mejlis, which today is quite controversial among the Crimean Tatars, stands in this tradition.

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The Wars of the Near Future (I)

The Fourth Reich rising:

 

BERLIN (Own report) – For the first time since 1990, the Bundeswehr will be increased in size, provided new capabilities and have its budget massively expanded. This was announced by Germany’s Minister of Defense, Ursula von der Leyen. According to her announcement, from now on, the German military’s “human resources” will be flexibly determined. For now, an additional 14,300 military personnel and 4,400 civilians will be added by 2023. The military budget, which, in 2000, was still at 23 billion Euros, will be increased to 39.2 billion by 2020. This is the materialization of Berlin’s geopolitical ambitions, which have been massively propagated since the fall of 2013, with the energetic participation of Germany’s President, who has repeatedly called for a more offensive German global policy with the inclusion of its military. In the process, Germany aims to take control of a ring of countries bordering on Europe – some, rich in natural resources – that can constitute, above all, a “cordon sanitaire” designed to shield the prosperous European empire from all sorts of problems. Because the EU’s original plans to use political-economic means to dominate this ring of states have proven unsuccessful, the German government is now turning to an open show of military force.

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Competing for Business with Iran

TEHERAN/BERLIN/BRUSSELS (Own report) – Germany’s Minister of the Economy, Sigmar Gabriel, will travel to Iran at the beginning of next week to initiate new business deals in a highly competitive market of the future. German authorities are doing all they can to insure that once sanctions are ended, Teheran will allot contracts to German companies. Besides Gabriel, for whom this will be his second trip to the Iranian capital in the past nine months, premiers or ministers of a total of six German states have either flown to Iran for talks or are planning to do so in the near future. The competition is intense. Asian countries – from China, via South Korea all the way to India – are currently by far the most important suppliers of this country that is exceptionally rich in raw materials. According to business circles, time is running out. Although Germany has good chances, in light of the strong competition from Asia, it cannot hope to reconquer its previous 30-percent market share in Iran’s mechanical engineering and plant construction. However, if business is not accelerated, they could fall far behind. The first steps have been taken. Siemens will build a high-speed railway line linking Teheran to Isfahan and modernize Iran’s electrical power supply.

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Laboratories of Forced Emigration

BERLIN (Own report) – While the EU is sealing itself off by fortifying borders, including in North Africa, it is establishing a system of “concentric circles” of refugee camps, write Berlin’s government advisors in a recent analysis on the German-European policy of warding off refugees. In the future, “EU refugee policy” will most likely be characterized by the “synergy of border fortifications, camps and quotas,” according to the analysis published by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). Since some time, the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders (Frontex) has been considerably enhanced. The EU Commission has called for increased deployment of drones and satellite surveillance systems to seal the borders. Admission quotas would de facto eliminate the right of asylum for individuals. Above all, the EU is establishing a system of camps in “concentric circles” extending from the EU’s center of prosperity all the way to North Africa and Syria. These camps can “easily” be transformed into “detention centers,” warns the SWP, making reference to the detention “hot spots” in Greece. These “hotspots” had recently placed the EU in direct conflict with aid organizations, the United Nations and the Pope. Detention centers for refugees, built with EU financing, also exist in Libya and Turkey.

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In Alliance with Al Qaeda

BERLIN/DAMASCUS (Own report) – The ceasefire in Syria is threatened to be torpedoed by a militia, armed by Germany’s allies and included, under German government pressure, in the Syria peace talks in Geneva. According to reports, the militia, Ahrar al Sham, covered by the ceasefire, is participating in the current military offensive waged by the al Qaeda-affiliated al Nusra Front, which has been excluded from the ceasefire. Ahrar al Sham has been financed and armed by Berlin’s NATO partner, Turkey and by Qatar, one of Germany’s main Middle East allies. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier had been vigorously pushing for al Sham’s membership in the delegation of the government opposition at the Geneva peace talks, even though it has been closely cooperating with al Nusra (al Qaeda) for years. A recent analysis published by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) confirms that this military cooperation is based on a broad ideological kinship. Ahrar al Sham is said to have also been implicated in a massacre of members of the Alawite minority. The militia is often referred to as the “Syrian Taliban,” according to a leading German expert on Salafism and jihadism, who maintains that whoever “enhances its prestige,” is “indirectly also reinforcing al Qaeda.” This applies to Berlin’s close allies as well as its foreign ministry.

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Europe Demands ‘a Greater Role for Nuclear Weapons’

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NATO members attend a meeting at their headquarters in Brussels. (JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)

 

Russian mind games with nuclear weapons mean that NATO has to step it up, write top German think tanks.

Europe wants to improve its use of nuclear power in response to Russia’s invasion of Georgia and Ukraine. Russia has paired its increased aggression and buildup of conventional forces with an expanded nuclear program, and Europe—especially Eastern Europe—is getting scared.

“Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, and Moscow’s associated nuclear threats, have triggered a new discussion in nato about enhancing its nuclear deterrent,” wrote the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (swp), a think tank responsible for advising the German Parliament, this month.

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