Germany: When "energy" trumps human rights!

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Afrasianet - Many were hoping to open the human rights file and give it importance during German Chancellor Olaf Scholz's visit to Saudi Arabia. But the chancellor must prioritize energy security and halt the decline in German exports to the richest country in the Middle East.

Energy and the increase of German exports to Saudi Arabia and Gulf investments top the agenda of Chancellor Schulz's visit to Saudi Arabia Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has become somewhat of a pariah in the West after the 2018 assassination of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul.

Four years later, the world has changed. US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron met the Saudi crown prince this year, as high oil prices and Europe's energy crisis dragged down Western economies.

Schulz did not miss the opportunity after it was his turn to confront Mohammed bin Salman. He actually met him on (September 24, 2022) while many German rights groups and politicians have publicly pressured Schulz to prioritize the human rights record in Saudi Arabia, and Professor Eckhart Fuertes, director of the GIGA Institute for Middle East Studies, told DW that the chancellor needs to walk a narrow path. "Priorities have changed" “There is certainly less tendency to focus on human rights when dealing with energy exporters in the Gulf region at the moment.

The priorities have changed as a result of the Ukraine war. I don't think they will be overstressed, let's put it that way,” says Professor Fuertes. Rights groups accuse Riyadh of continuing to crush political dissent and media freedom. Amnesty International says that Saudi courts continue to use the death penalty “on a large scale” and migrant workers remain vulnerable to abuse and exploitation due to the sponsorship system, which imposes the sponsorship of every person by a Saudi national. Berlin did not announce much about the details of the Gulf trip. However, long-term deals have been struck with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to boost LNG exports to Europe to replace Russian supplies.

However, it is unclear whether a similar agreement with the Saudis is possible. "Saudi Arabia produces a lot of natural gas, but it needs it for domestic manufacturing," Professor Fuertes told DW. Saudi Arabia has the eighth largest proven reserves of natural gas in the world, after Russia, Iran and Qatar, which topped the list.

It is already the ninth largest producer of gas, but its domestic economy requires huge amounts of gas for electricity generation, water desalination and industrial production.

DW believes that "the only actual ruler in Riyadh feels rehabilitated after years of international isolation and ostracism, after US and Turkish intelligence blamed him for the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi." But in light of the new geopolitical realities with the Ukraine war, “perhaps it is not only a matter of personal recognition for the wise Mohammed bin Salman, but more than that, that Saudi Arabia, under his leadership, is taken seriously as a leading power in a multipolar world order,” according to him. German body description. Deutsche Welle notes that the handshake between Schultz and Mohammed bin Salman ended the stalemate period between Germany and Saudi Arabia, as Germany currently relies on a strong and effective working relationship with Riyadh, but in fact, "the tyrannical ruler was never simple," as she described it.

The Saudi crown prince has become the "coveted statesman on the international scene", as shown by the numerous visits to Riyadh by Western politicians. US President Joe Biden and former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited Riyadh this year. French President Emmanuel Macron also received Mohammed bin Salman at the Elysee Palace last July. But unlike Saudi Arabia, the German chancellor's trip won agreements in the energy sector, in the UAE. While in Qatar, which is one of the largest producers of liquefied gas and is working to develop the largest gas field in the world, the North Field, the German chancellor did not come out with agreements - public at least - with Doha. A tour without expectations Estimates of analysts in the German energy market indicate that the chancellor's visit came below the expectations of the local market there, especially with no prospect of resuming the pumping of Russian gas via Nord Stream 1.

The embargo imposed by Western countries on Russian oil means that Europe likely wants to become more dependent on Saudi oil. The full EU embargo takes effect at the beginning of 2023. “Russia now sells its oil to India and China at a discount, crowding out Gulf exporters who mostly exported to these markets.

Those Gulf countries are likely to export more to Europe. So, the It's a bit like a vortex," says Fuertes. Germany has reduced German exports to Saudi Arabia, citing human rights concerns. German exports to Saudi Arabia almost halved between 2015 and 2021, from 9.9 billion euros to 5.5 billion euros.

Prior to these visits to Western leaders, a CIA report indicated that the kingdom's de facto ruler had "authorized" the Khashoggi murder, but Riyadh denies this, citing the involvement of rogue elements in the horrific crime. After a period of boycott, Mohammed bin Salman returns to the international arena with his reception of US President Joe Biden in mid-July and his visit to France at the end of the same month, where he met with President Emmanuel Macron.

Schulz's spokesman had said that "the murder of Khashoggi will certainly be a topic of discussion" during Schulz's visit. But that did not happen, of course.

In this context, human rights activists have drawn attention to what they say are human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia. “Even in light of geopolitical constraints and energy policy, the German chancellor should be able to do so,” Katja Müller-Valbusch, an expert on the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, said in a statement.

During his visit to Saudi Arabia not to remain silent about human rights violations in this country, otherwise the political goal to which the German government commits itself, to align foreign policy with human rights standards and the rule of law will simply be not credible.

The Director of the Gulf Center for Human Rights, Khaled Ibrahim, said in statements to the German News Agency (dpa) that the chancellor should take a stand during his trip, referring to "all arbitrary arrests and torture, as well as arrests of human rights defenders after sham trials on accusations". void" in the Gulf region. "Demanding their release is the least we can expect from the advisor during this visit," Ibrahim said, adding that he fears that this visit will be used by the three countries "to cover up more grave violations of human rights." Reporters Without Borders also asked Chancellor Schulz to raise the issue of human rights and media freedom, during his visit to the Gulf.

The director of the organization in Germany, Christian Mehr, said in statements to the newspaper "Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung": The chancellor must set a condition for making deals with these countries (Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and Qatar), which is that "the rulers of these countries must stop suppressing media freedom, which is a cornerstone of the rule of law." .so what happened?

What happened: Human rights no longer meant anything to Western leaders who used this term in an attempt to appear as defenders of freedoms and claims of democracy.

But now, there is no doubt that all these media whirlwinds, which were used for political purposes, have only vanished when the ugly face of those who insist on lying and hypocrisy appeared while the United States of America leads them towards more destruction in order to be able to tighten its political and economic grip on Europe, which has lost its freedom The choice when it became an entity controlled by the United States, and this will certainly accelerate its collapse.

What is the position of its people who live on the impact of the lies of officials?

That's what the days will take care of.

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