Dr Gunter Mulack: Crisis in the Middle East: A German Perspective

‘The Arab elite responsible is for Middle East crises’ – Watch Video.

As seen on this blog, the German chancellor Angela Merkel has become rather controversial because of her “open door” or Willkommenskultur policy in relation to refugees from the Middle East and elsewhere in Asia. Last year, Merkel was involved in a tug of war involved in a tug of war with her uneasy ally Horst Seehofer (premier of Bavaria) and even members of her trusted cabinet openly challenged her over her refugee policy. The chancellery ultimately bowed down to pressure from finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble and interior minister Thomas de Maizière – Schäuble accused her of being a “careless” skier who has caused an “avalanche” which needs to be contained. Equally, Mrs Merkel has been under pressure from the extremist right-wing populist eurosceptic Alternative für Deutschland (Alternative for Germany) party and its charismatic co-leader Frauke Petry; a 40-year old chemist/businesswoman with four children turned politician who very radically argues that the German authorities must “use firearms if necessary” to “prevent illegal border crossings”.

Given that a million people have penetrated Europe’s border in just a year, Petry argues that the “police must stop refugees entering German soil.” Against that background, German diplomat and scholar Dr Gunter Mulack spoke at The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) and shared his views on the crisis in the Middle East from a German Perspective. Prior to becoming Germany’s ambassador in Pakistan in 2005, Dr Mulack served his country in Bahrain, Egypt, Lebanon, Kuwait, Jordan, Morocco and Venezuela. He was “disappointed in France and other countries” for not taking in enough migrants. Under the controversial EU-Turkey refugee deal, European and Turkish leaders have argued that their “one in, one out” deal will put an end to the swelling migration of refugees towards Europe.

The deal has been discredited for inadequate legal safeguards and it throws up as many problems as it purports to solve. Under the deal, for each Syrian refugee on the Greek islands who is returned to Turkey, a home in Europe will be found for a Syrian asylum seeker in Turkey. At least that is the rationale of it. However, as we have seen, Turkey, which claims it deported the Brussels suicide bomber Ibrahim El Bakraoui in 2015 and says the Belgians failed to heed its warnings, has been deporting hundreds of refugees back to Syria on a daily basis. Pakistanis are also being deported back from Greece to Turkey for further repatriation to Pakistan.

Media coverage from Dr Mulack’s talk is available below.

‘Arab elite responsible for Middle East crises’ by Qasim A Moini, Published in Dawn, 2 April 2016

The current crises besetting the Middle East are largely due to the failure of the Arab elite and the resultant failure of Arab states, as well as the fact that the West had no problem in dealing with these authoritarian regimes.

These views were expressed here on Friday by German diplomat and scholar Dr Gunter Mulack at the PIIA while speaking on the topic of ‘Crisis in the Middle East – A German Perspective’.

Dr Mulack has served as the German ambassador to Pakistan, as well as his country’s first Commissioner for Dialogue with the Muslim World.

“The failure of the Arab elite led to the crisis characterised by poverty and illiteracy in [these] countries. The population pressure has strained the capacity of most states,” he stated, while adding that “we [the West] have to admit that” dealing with “dictatorships was the easy solution. We never spoke about human rights. We were [more concerned] with exporting our goods.”

Dr Mulack stated that the Middle East was “important for all of us” as it was the birthplace of the three major monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. He explained:

It’s important to keep in mind the history and why it’s important.

He said the migrant crisis brought Europe face to face with “tragedy in the Middle East” while lamenting the fact that there was “not a single democracy in the Middle East”, though in his view Israel was partially democratic.

Referring to the current political architecture of the region, the German scholar said that through the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1915-16, “Britain and France were distributing the booty of the war [WWI]” by dismantling the Ottoman Empire. According to him:

These borders were artificially created. The colonialists did not have in mind justice [for the people] of these countries.

Discussing the so-called Arab Spring, Dr Mulack said satellite TV and technology changed the situation as “people lost their fear. Governments didn’t expect this.” He said the Egyptian “deep state” toppled Mohamed Morsi, considered Egypt’s first democratically elected leader. He said that though he disagreed with terming Mr Morsi a terrorist, “he was incapable of ruling Egypt”.

The diplomat described Iraq and Syria as the “worst cases” and came down too hard on the US for its role in the former, terming the 2003 invasion “a criminal act, very stupid.” He added that the militant Islamic State group was formed in US prisons in Iraq around 2006. He claimed that IS was following in the footsteps of the first Wahhabi state formed in Arabia in the 18th century, particularly where killing all those that disagreed with it was concerned.

Commenting on Saudi Arabia and the Gulf regimes, he said that unless these states changed themselves in the next five years, they might not be around soon after that. As for Iran, Dr Mulack felt the Islamic Republic wanted to form a “Shia crescent” which also included Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.

He was also sceptical of ongoing Syrian peace talks in Geneva. “I don’t believe there will be a solution. The battle will continue if [Bashar] Assad stays in power. The best thing is to make sure that he does not stay in power forever,” he said, while adding that the Sunnis of Iraq and Syria would have to be integrated for there to be peace in the region.

Dr Mulack also sounded sceptical of the promises the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor held. “Be aware the Chinese will not bring you paradise on earth”, he said, while claiming that the Indian spy recently arrested in Balochistan was actually caught “by the Taliban and sold” to Pakistani intelligence.

Dr Gunter Mulack rounded off his talk by saying that “young people will determine the future of the Middle East” and that he was “disappointed in France and other countries” for not taking in enough migrants.

Comment

As seen by the Panama Papers, Mossack Fonseca serviced Bashar al-Assad cousin’s firms despite internationally held Syria corruption fears. The leaked documents show that the dictator’s cousin Rami Makhlouf was able to keep accounts open for months thanks to HSBC lobbying. As revealed by the Guardian, the papers also incriminate the Russian president in corruption and nepotism. Our own prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, is not far behind and of course his children have been named in the off shore wealth scandal.

In other news, ISIS has finally been driven out of Syria’s ancient Palmyra city by the Damascus regime. As reported by Reuters:

Syrian government forces backed by heavy Russian air support drove Islamic State out of Palmyra on Sunday, inflicting what the army called a mortal blow to militants who seized the city last year and dynamited its ancient temples. The loss of Palmyra represents one of the biggest setbacks for the ultra-hardline Islamist group since it declared a caliphate in 2014 across large parts of Syria and Iraq. The army general command said that its forces took over the city with support from Russian and Syrian air strikes, opening up the huge expanse of desert leading east to the Islamic State strongholds of Raqqa and Deir al-Zor.

Speaker’s Biography and Recent Events

Dr Gunter Mulack, a retired German ambassador, entered into the German diplomatic service after studying law and Oriental languages as well as Middle Eastern regional studies at the Universities of Marburg, Freiburg, and Göttingen in Germany with post-graduate studies at the University of California, Boalt Hall School of Law, and a PhD in international law from Göttingen University.

As a diplomat, Dr Mulack served mostly in the Arab world. He graduated with a diploma in Arabic from MECAS in Lebanon serving in Cairo, Amman, Beirut, and Kuwait, as well as other postings. He then went on to serve as ambassador in Bahrain, Kuwait, and Damascus – followed by time as the Consul General in Casablanca.

Following the events of 11 September 2001, Dr Mulack was appointed in March 2002 as the first German Commissioner for Dialogue with the Muslim World and served in this capacity until 2005 visiting almost all of the Muslim countries. From late 2005 to September 2008, he served as German Ambassador to Pakistan.

After his retirement, Dr Mulack was appointed executive director of the prestigious German Orient Institute in Berlin and is a board member of several think tanks, advisor to the Aga Khan Development Network, and engaged in intercultural dialog while devoting a portion of his time as a political analyst, publisher, and commentator on current world affairs.

Recent coverage of PIIA events is available below:

Posted by Editor.

 

9 Comments

Filed under Al Qaeda, China, CPEC, Discussion, Europe, Germany, Human Rights, Immigration, ISIS, Islam, Karachi, Pakistan, Pakistan Horizon, Politics, Russia, Syria, The Arab Spring, The Middle East

9 responses to “Dr Gunter Mulack: Crisis in the Middle East: A German Perspective

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