Germany as an influential political actor in the Middle East conflict: Possibilities and prospects
Germany enjoys several assets and strengths that enable it to play a much stronger and more visible role in Middle East. Germany has no history of colonialism in the region and has not been involved militarily in any of the Middle East conflicts. Germany’s warm reception for the Syrian and other refugees created a very positive image in the minds and in the hearts of Arab nations. However, the public role of Germany has not been adequately utilised. German foreign policy is perceived in the Middle East to be reluctant and hesitant, as development and technical assistance from Germany has not been complemented by an equally active political role. Germany is a generous payer but not an active player. The warm relations between Germany and Israel can and should be considered as a positive element, not the opposite, based on the principle that ‘only friends can give advice‘. Germany is in an excellent position to complement other states, mainly the US, in mediating in the Middle East between Arab states and Israel. However, if Germany wants to become a global power, it needs a more assertive, confident and decisive role. Germany needs to mobilise its financial capacities, its warm public perception following the refugee crisis, its technical expertise and technological know-how as well as its capabilities in civic education and technical and vocational training in order to enable it to stimulate a political involvement that helps to bring stability, democratisation and prosperity to the Middle East states. This is a win-win strategy, as Germany will benefit greatly if it accelerates its political involvement in the Middle East. This will impact positively on its economic ties with Europe and the Middle East states. This essay investigates the possibilities, capabilities and potentials that Germany could attain by becoming an influential political power in Middle East issues, such as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, or by helping to find peaceful solutions to the conflicts in Syria, Yemen, and Libya.
Omar Shaban is the founding director of think and do tank PalThink for Strategic Studies that is based in Gaza. He specialises in the political economy of the Middle East, mainly Palestine and Israel. He publishes regularly in internationally recognised think tanks, newspapers and magazines.