Germany, UAE renew business ties, gloss over arms exports, Yemen war | News | DW | 12.06.2019
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Germany, UAE renew business ties, gloss over arms exports, Yemen war

Germany and the United Arab Emirates have extended their multibillion-euro partnership during a meeting in Berlin. Opposition Greens decried the UAE's role in the Yemen and Libya conflicts, and Sudan's turmoil.

Visiting United Arab Emirates' Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday signed a 46-point declaration focused on business links and only touching on efforts to bring peace to war-torn Yemen.

Al Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi, one of UAE's seven emirates, at the signing said over the past 15 years UAE-German trade had swelled from $3 billion to $14 billion (€2.7 billion to €12.4 billion) and he hoped for further growth.

"We want to strengthen these relations, we want to build bridges between the Emirates and Germany," said al Nahyan, referring to the broad-range partnership that is also supposed to include humanitarian aid.

Merkel added that the declaration included an agreement to seek a political solution for Yemen, and she admitted that its peace process begun last year in Stockholm was "unfortunately still distant."

Read more: In Yemen war, coalition forces rely on German arms and technology

Since 2015, Saudi Arabia has led a bloc of Arab states, including the UAE, that backs the Yemeni government in its fight against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.

A bomb on a Saudi-owned military jet (Getty Images/AFP/F. Nureldine)

A Saudi-led bombing campaign has contributed to the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen

Last year, Germany imposed a partial arms embargo on countries involved in the Yemen conflict and slapped a ban weapons exports to Saudi Arabia over the killing of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey.

Subsequent pressure from Britain and France resulting in a partial lifting of that ban, with exemptions given to joint European arms exports previously licensed for sale to the UAE.

The 46-point declaration did not mention the arms export issue and instead highlighted joint German-UAE ventures in the energy sector.

Aspects mentioned were renewable energy capture, potential value-creation gains in the oil and gas sectors, and the extension of cooperation between UAE firm ADNOC and Linde of Germany in the industrial gas production sector.

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Regarding the crisis over Iran's nuclear program, given the US withdrawal last year from a treaty involving Germany and Japan, the Germany-UAE declaration only referred to "concern over the growing tensions in the [Middle East] region."

On Tuesday, when al Nahyan visited German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Berlin, opposition German Greens party veteran Claudia Roth described the sheikh as one of the most influential and feared figures in the Middle East.

"As deputy commander-in-chief of the [UAE] armed forces, he has access to enormous financial and military capacities, which he unscrupulously uses to support autocratic rulers who oppose human rights in countries such as Egypt, Libya and Sudan, said Roth, a vice-president of Germany's parliament.

Read more: Human Rights Watch: 'The UAE is not a tolerant state'

In conflict-torn Libya, the UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia back strongman Khalifa Haftar, while Turkey and Qatar are on the Tripoli government's side. And in Sudan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE — averse to a rise of the Islamic Muslim Brotherhood — backed the military ouster of President Omar al Bashir that has since left civil society groups pressing for a voice in a transitional government.

Bashar had long counted on Qatar and Turkey for support.

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ipj/sms (dpa, AFP, Reuters)

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