Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for Germany

Newsline: US ambassador to Germany receives threats

The US ambassador to Germany has been receiving threats including at least one against his life. A photo of one letter seen by CNN which was sent directly to Richard Grenell in January told him to leave Germany or he would be killed. Signed by the “Society for the New Truth,” it was one of several threats that have been sent to the embassy, according to a source familiar and two State Department officials. Grenell’s spokesperson, Joseph Giordono-Scholz told CNN that “we do not publicly discuss security issues and procedures.” (https://edition.cnn.com/2019/03/14/politics/us-envoy-germany-grenell-death-threats/index.html) A former Republican political operative and spokesman to the United Nations, Grenell has carved an incendiary path since presenting his diplomatic credentials to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in May 2018, clashing with officials, businesses and the media.


Newsline: US ambassador in Berlin urges Germany to cut ties with China’s Huawei

Berlin should bar Huawei or other Chinese vendors from constructing Germany’s 5G network or risk losing access to U.S. intelligence, according to a letter from U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell to the country’s economics minister, The Wall Street Journal reported on Mar. 11. (https://www.cnbc.com/2019/03/11/us-ambassador-in-berlin-urges-germany-to-cut-ties-with-huawei.html) The two countries have been carefully rebuilding their intelligence sharing relationship since 2013 and 2014, when the U.S. and Germany were at odds over two spying scandals stemming from the revelations by Edward Snowden of NSA snooping. Last month, German officials said they “weren’t ready” to ban Huawei equipment and were unsure of the legality of such a request, according to a statement from the German Interior Ministry. The letter was sent Friday, the Journal said. This would be the first time the U.S. has explicitly threatened consequences against a country for using the Huawei’s equipment, which has been the subject of heavy scrutiny from U.S. intelligence agencies that say the company is intimately connected to the Chinese government and intelligence agencies. Huawei continues to deny these claims, and has launched legal and marketing campaigns to defend itself.

Venezuela’s government expelled the German ambassador

Ambassador Daniel Kriener was expelled Mar.6 two days after he and diplomats from other embassies welcomed home opposition leader Juan Guaido at the Caracas airport. The government declared Kriener persona non grata and gave him 48 hours to leave the country, accusing him of meddling in internal affairs, although it did not give specific details. “Venezuela considers it unacceptable that a foreign diplomat carries out in its territory a public role closer to that of a political leader aligned with the conspiratorial agenda of extremist sectors of the Venezuelan opposition,” the government said in a statement. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-politics-germany/venezuela-expels-german-ambassador-for-meddling-in-internal-affairs-idUSKCN1QN224) A German foreign ministry spokeswoman confirmed Venezuela had expelled the ambassador and that the ministry was consulting with its allies on how to respond.

Newsline: Saudi ambassador to Germany worries dissidents in exile

Saudi Arabia has appointed a new ambassador to Germany. There are hopes he will help improve ties between the countries, but Saudi dissidents view his appointment with great concern following the Khashoggi murder. Saudi Arabia’s leader, King Salman, has appointed Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud as the monarchy’s new ambassador to Germany. While official channels at the Saudi and German foreign ministries have remained mute on the matter, Germany’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Jörg Ranau, used the embassy’s official Twitter account to congratulate the new ambassador in fluent Arabic: “We congratulate the newly nominated ambassador to Germany, Prince Faisal bin Farhan.” Faisal, who was born in Germany, in turn, thanked Ranau for his support — in perfect German. Before embarking on his diplomatic career, Faisal held high-ranking positions in Saudi and international companies, predominantly in the aviation and arms industry. He remains on the board of Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI). Most recently, Faisal served as an adviser to Saudi King Salman and as an assistant to the Saudi ambassador to the United States. Saudi critics of the Gulf monarchy living in exile in Germany, however, see Faisal’s appointment with great concern. Saudi dissident Prince Khalid bin Farhan al-Saud, a distant relative of Faisal, lives under police protection in Germany and said he fears the new ambassador could have been sent to Germany to persecute Saudi opposition figures such as himself (https://www.dw.com/en/saudi-ambassador-to-germany-worries-dissidents-in-exile/a-47505837). Khalid told DW he feels threatened and is extremely concerned about Faisal’s close relationship with powerful Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is suspected of having a role in planning or at least condoning the assassination of Saudi dissent journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul last October.

Newsline: Cameroon Summons French, German Envoys Over Embassy Violence

Attacks against Cameroon’s missions in Europe entailed diplomatic consequences. Cameroon reportedly summoned French and German envoys to protest “violence and vandalism” during opposition demonstrations at the central African nation’s embassies in Paris and Berlin(https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-30/cameroon-summons-french-german-envoys-over-embassy-violence). The two European host governments were accused of failure to provide ample diplomatic and consular protection during the Jan. 26 protests by the Cameroon opposition, in violation of international conventions. The United Nations condemned the violence at the Cameroonian embassies, and it also expressed concern about alleged use of force by security forces during demonstrations in Cameroon.

Newsline: Brazil embassy in Berlin hit by vandal attack

At least four attackers targeted the Brazilian Embassy in Berlin, breaking windows and throwing paint and eggs at the building. Federal investigators say the attack could be politically motivated. German authorities are looking for at least four suspects who vandalized the Brazilian Embassy in central Berlin (https://www.dw.com/en/brazil-embassy-in-berlin-hit-by-vandal-attack/a-47320345). The group threw pink and black paint, eggs and other objects at the main entrance and windows at around 1 a.m. local time. Police said 16 windows were damaged. No injuries were reported among the embassy staff. The attack caused at least €100,000 ($114,488) in property damage. The daily also reported that the attackers damaged the double-pane windows with iron bars and likely used a fire extinguisher to spray the paint.

Newsline: US Ambassador threatens German firms over Russian pipeline

The US ambassador to Berlin, Richard Grenell, has sent threatening letters to German companies working on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, according to a German newspaper. Grenell reportedly warns of possible sanctions. German companies building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Germany and Russia received letters from US Ambassador Richard Grenell warning them of “a significant risk of sanctions” if they did not pull out of the project, Germany’s mass-circulation Bild am Sonntag has reported. The large pipeline is set to deliver gas from northwestern Russia to northern Germany under the Baltic Sea and effectively double the amount of gas Germany imports from the country. The US opposes the project over fears that the gas link would tighten Russia’s control of Europe’s energy supply and diminish the importance of gas transit countries such as Ukraine. US companies are also keen to sell gas obtained by fracking to many European countries.