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Berlin’s patronizing dealings with Qatar lead to loss of trust and threaten to weaken Germany

By Max Biederbeck-Kettterer, Rüdiger Kiani-Kreß

In an emergency letter, the German ambassador to Qatar warns of diplomatic turmoil in the Middle Eastern country and calls on Berlin to change course quickly.

The background is the campaign-like attacks by the German government against the emirate, based on double standards, which have caused widespread resentment there – among the general population, but also in business and politics.

Germany has “lost” the “considerable bonus of trust” it enjoyed in Qatar, the ambassador informs; the mood is “miserable.”

Read also: Check out our coverage on the new multipolar world order

If Berlin does not want to lose even more influence in the Middle East, public praise for the World Cup from the highest government authorities is urgently needed.

Even before the World Cup, Berlin government advisers urged that relations with Qatar be expanded; this was important – not only given the emirate’s huge natural gas reserves but also because of its considerable political influence.

Germany and other former first world countries cannot understand why they are no longer allowed to be arrogant and condescending. (Photo internet reproduction)
Germany and other former first-world countries cannot understand why they are no longer allowed to be arrogant and condescending. (Photo internet reproduction)

Washington has just approved billions in arms deliveries to Doha – not least because China is gaining ever greater influence in Qatar, as on the entire Arabian Peninsula.

RELIANT ON ALLIES

Government advisers in Berlin are urging the German government to cooperate more closely with Qatar.

One reason for this is that the emirate has been acting as a regional power for some time and has repeatedly made itself available as a mediator.

For example, it succeeded in establishing contacts with the Taliban and making them useful when the U.S. negotiated with them about their withdrawal from Afghanistan.

They also helped the Federal Republic of Germany when Berlin could not bring back all German citizens from Afghanistan on its own last August.

Qatar, the country with the world’s third-largest natural gas reserves, is also of considerable importance as a gas supplier.

The background also includes the fact that – according to a recent study by the Berlin-based Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP) – Germany and the EU have “lost a great deal of influence” in the Middle East “since 2011.”

“If there is indeed to be a security policy ‘turning point in time,'” the SWP paper states, then “Germany must also prepare itself for the dangers threatening from the Middle East”.

These are undesirable migration, terrorism, and nuclear proliferation.

“Part of this,” it says, “is that Germany and Europe need pro-Western allies.”Qatar would certainly be among them.

NO LONGER DOMINATED BY THE WEST

The call comes at a time when Western states, and the United States, are losing their dominant influence on the Arabian Peninsula.

This is especially true for Saudi Arabia and for the United Arab Emirates – two states with which Qatar has had tense relations for years; from 2017 to 2021, the emirate was even subject to a comprehensive blockade by its neighboring countries over various political differences.

A rapprochement is now underway.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, despite continued massive pressure from Western powers, are neither willing to participate in their Russia sanctions nor willing to expand their oil production to make an oil embargo against Russia possible.

Instead, in the OPEC+ cartel, they have even pushed through reductions in output.

Both are also cooperating ever more closely with China and have pushed through the use of technology from China’s Huawei Group to build their 5G networks, despite strong complaints from Washington.

Qatar is also moving ever closer to the People’s Republic.

During a Beijing visit by Emir Tamim bin Hamad al Thani during the 2022 Winter Olympics, the two sides announced plans to expand cooperation, including in the context of the New Silk Road.

Since September, Qatar has also been an official dialogue partner of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

DOUBLE STANDARDS

In this situation, the German government’s campaign-style attacks against Qatar, based on the usual double standards, have led to a diplomatic flurry (read last paragraph).

Even before the start of the World Cup, Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al Thani had stated with regard to the public criticism from Berlin: “We are annoyed by the double standards.”

Germany has “no problem with us” if it wants liquefied gas or needs investors, but if Doha hosts a sporting event, “then suddenly other standards apply.”

The appearance of the German soccer team and especially of Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, who posed in front of the cameras in Qatar wearing a “One Love” armband, has now caused widespread resentment.

For example, many commented, “Let’s see if the Germans, when they sign their gas deal, also wear such a colorful armband.”

A source close to the government in Doha is quoted as saying that Qatar’s government was “very disturbed by the fact that the minister [Faeser, ed.] was far more accommodating and polite” in meetings than in “public appearances.”

If one really wants to succeed, one usually proceeds in the opposite way.”

TRUST BONUS LOST

Claudius Fischbach, the German ambassador to Qatar, has now addressed the German Foreign Office with an incendiary letter.

The letter was immediately leaked to the media.

“In recent years, Germany has enjoyed a considerable bonus of trust in Qatar,” the letter says; however, “this bonus of trust” has been “lost in recent weeks.”

Qatar sees itself as the victim of “an unprecedented media campaign”; Germany’s appearance at the World Cup has been “widely and consistently criticized as disrespect for a foreign culture.”

“The current mood toward Germany in local business circles, traditionally pro-German,” Fischbach states, “is described to me as miserable.”

Referring to Berlin’s foreign policy and economic interests, the ambassador cautions, “We don’t have to talk at length about the fact that we neither want nor can do without Qatar as a pro-Western ally.”

To save relations, he said, at least “a very high-level public statement” with clear praise of the staging of the World Cup and the latest natural gas deal would be necessary, in addition to an official affirmation that the German government is very much interested in maintaining the “traditionally good” relations.

DRONES FOR THE EMIRATE

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has so far been content to praise the latest liquefied natural gas deal with Qatar as a “building block” for the future energy supply of the Federal Republic.

He also said he was “very happy” that the agreement had been reached.

The United States is taking a very different approach to Qatar, the World Cup, and the geostrategic power struggles surrounding the emirate.

Just in time for halftime of the match between the U.S. team and Iran’s team, the U.S. State Department announced that it had just approved the delivery of drone defense equipment worth one billion U.S. dollars.

This involves ten fixed total systems and many individual weapons and equipment, including 200 Coyote drones that will be used against enemy drones.

“The proposed sale,” the State Department explains, “will enhance Qatar’s ability to defend against the current and future threats.”

This supports “the security of a friendly country that continues to be a major force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East.”

THE STORY BEHIND QATARI RAGE

Qatar’s foreign minister had accused Germany of “double standards” over its criticism of the World Cup host’s human rights record and has defended its summoning of the German ambassador in a newspaper interview published over a week ago.

Qatar has faced intense criticism from human rights groups over its treatment of migrant workers, who, along with other foreigners, comprise the bulk of the country’s population.

Qatar’s foreign ministry last month summoned the German ambassador over Interior Minister Nancy Faeser’s comments that a country’s human rights record should be factored into whether they are selected as World Cup host.

“On the one side, the German population is misinformed by government politicians; on the other, the government has no problem with us regarding energy partnerships or investments,” said Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper in an interview.

“We are annoyed by the double standards,” he said, adding that Qatar had faced a systematic campaign against it in the 12 years since being selected to host the World Cup that he said no other country had faced.

“It is ironic when this tone is struck in European countries that call themselves liberal democracies. It sounds arrogant, frankly, and racist,” he told the newspaper.

Al-Thani described calls for security guarantees for minorities – which Faeser had requested as a prerequisite before agreeing to attend the World Cup – as superfluous and said German politicians should focus more on hate crimes occurring within their country’s own borders.

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