Olaf Scholz travels to the Gulf

AWhen it was announced in the government press conference that Olaf Scholz am going to embark on a trip to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar this Saturday, the focus was clearly on one topic: the meeting with the Saudi heir to the throne, Muhammad bin Salman, and the brutal murder of the critic of the crown prince, Jammal Khashoggi, whose body is still missing had been dismembered with a bone saw at the scene of the crime, the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Muhammad bin Salman was shunned for a long time after the fall of 2018; American secret services assume that he had set the assassination squad in motion.

The Chancellor now joins the ranks of statesmen who are softening this attitude. Most recently, Joe Biden's visit to the UK in July caused a stir. The US President was forced to overcome his uneasiness because he desperately needed his Saudi allies to cushion the impact of the war in Ukraine on the US economy, especially in light of rising oil prices.

So Scholz's trip is now like a diplomatic tightrope walk. On the one hand, concrete contributions to the energy supply were promised on the day before departure. On the other hand, reference was made in Berlin to foreign policy necessities. Of course, "what happened" plays a role, it was said. But in a world with the most violent upheavals, new alliances must be made or old connections strengthened. In this way, Scholz wants to promote the position of the West in the region that the Russian attack on Ukraine affects the whole world.

This ambivalence is constantly noticeable in Berlin. One hears: "This is not an energy shopping spree that we are doing." And then with a view to the urgently needed gas: "The volume of deliveries can be expanded." On another sheet it says: How quickly do the rulers in the Gulf want and can deliver ?

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