Olaf Scholz am Golf: More than a shopping spree

Dhe day comes Olaf Scholz flies away – the Federal Chancellor is drawn to the Middle East at 6 a.m. Three countries, two days, one goal: strengthening the resistance forces after Moscow’s attack on Ukraine. Of course, this is about replacing the missing supplies from Russia, but also about understanding the position of the West in an important region of the world. The German’s first stop is Saudi Arabia, or more precisely Jeddah, the “Pearl of the Red Sea”. First appointment: the conversation with the Saudi heir to the throne Muhammad bin Salman, who has achieved dubious global fame after the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. He is considered the mastermind behind the crime in which the body was dismembered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The meeting with the prince took place behind closed doors. There was no joint appearance afterwards either. Scholz later asked critical questions about this.

Already the first day of the journey is hard realpolitik. It is doubtful that Scholz would have sought contact with the heir to the throne if Russia would not have violated international law so massively and the problems would be so great. It is all the more important for the Federal Chancellor to set different, if not to say softer, signs. This includes a conversation with young women entrepreneurs in Saudi Arabia.

Qatar is particularly courted

A few days before the chancellor’s departure, Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) raised expectations. There was speculation about the conclusion of contracts in the field of hydrogen and liquid gas (LNG) at the weekend after the Green politician whispered with a view to the United Arab Emirates, the second stop on the Scholz trip: “The ongoing effort leads to success.” That was it Hardly disguised self-praise, after all, Habeck was already in the Gulf in March to prepare the ground for deliveries that could take the pressure off the gas markets.

Above all is Qatar, the third stop on the chancellor’s grueling weekend trip, is currently particularly sought-after, given that the country is the country’s second-biggest exporter of liquid gas. After the inflow from Russia has dried up, the other options for getting gas through pipelines are limited. For this reason, terminals are currently being built in Germany at a speed rarely seen before, where tankers can feed the coveted freight into the network. However, the Emirate of Qatar will also not be able to step in as a large replacement supplier for a long time, since the capacities are largely tied up. It will not be able to ship significantly more gas until 2026 or 2027. But Qatar’s potential remains limited.

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