Vital as the North Africa rim is to Germany, another piece of territory is even more crucial to its Middle East strategy, particularly if it loses influence in North Africa to Iran: the Arabian Peninsula.
In recent years, the German Navy has deployed heavily in the Mediterranean to protect its own and Europe’s interests across what Winston Churchill called “the soft underbelly of Europe.” Its deployments off the coast of Lebanon and off the Horn of Africa, by virtue of UN mandates, have provided particularly crucial toeholds to building a future German presence from the Levant to the Gulf of Oman. As the Bundeswehr’s ex-Inspector General Klaus Naumann declared, “Germany has dared to go it alone for the first time since 1949.”Any continuing presence of German naval vessels in the Mediterranean is, at the time of writing, under specific German sovereignty and not subject to direction by any international body. We need to watch future German Mediterranean strategy: It remains crucial for the security of German interests.
Among the most significant German interests in Libya are: uses over 40,000 square kilometers of Libya for oil and gas production; and Siemens, well connected with Germany’s secret service, has a major slice of the huge “Great Man-Made River” drinking water supply project, the largest of its kind in the world.
The way it can counter Iran’s increasing influence in North Africa and along the west bank of the Red Sea is to surround it in a pincer movement.Interestingly, Qadhafi put these tools to aggressive use in his brutal attempts to put down the uprising in his country.Germany needed to protect its assets in Libya so much that it supported the repressive Qadhafi regime despite its proven terrorist connections.To some extent, Berlin’s Middle East foreign policy represents what the Nazi double agent Heinz Felfe called “dancing at two weddings.” For years, Germany has supplied technical expertise to both the Iranian Shiite regime—not the least for its developing nuclear capability—and opposition Sunni regimes in other Middle Eastern nations, many of which have even called on the United States to bomb Iran’s nuclear facility.But German elites now see the prospect of regime changes in North Africa and the Middle East forcing them into some fast tap dancing to ensure that their interests in this region do not fall to any power they regard as unfriendly.