Sarkozy happens to Merkel - Ahmadinejad benefits

Posted in Europe | 13-Oct-07 | Author: Judith Apter Klinghoffer

Something happened in Berlin. A year ago the headline read - Iran as bad as Nazis: Merkel

“Looking back to German history in the early 1930s when National Socialism was on the rise, there were many outside Germany who said, ‘It’s only rhetoric — don’t get excited’,” Merkel told an international security conference in Munich.

“There were times when people could have reacted differently and, in my view, Germany is obliged to do something at the early stages,” she added. “We want to, we must prevent Iran from developing its nuclear programme.”

Merkel issued a blunt warning to Ahmadinejad, who has called for Israel to be “wiped off the map”.

“Iran has blatantly crossed the red line,” she said. “I say it as a German chancellor. A president who questions Israel’s right to exist, a president who denies the Holocaust cannot expect to receive any tolerance from Germany.”

Now, the headline and import are vastly different Berlin and Vienna Stand Against the West: European Divisions on the Iranian Bomb

The division of Europe on the Iran nuclear question came into the open on Sept. 21. On that day, the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany discussed how the Security Council should proceed on the matter. After Iran had ignored the U.N.'s first two sanctions resolutions, a third, tougher regime of sanctions was on the agenda. For the first time, Germany openly broke from the transatlantic consensus. Whereas "the United States, Britain and France pushed for a third resolution and tougher sanctions," the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) wrote, Germany rejected the proposal, which aimed not at monitoring Iran's uranium enrichment program, but at getting it suspended.

What happened? Ahmadinejad certainly has not moderated his stance. Perhaps, the grand coalition (i.e., the Socialist coalition partners) happened. Then, they were not happy with Merkel's tough stance. Still, they have not been able to silence her. Why are they successful now? Because the Germans are mad at the French - Merkel does not like being upstaged by Sarkozy. The Iranians understand it all too well:

Germany's political leadership is getting increasingly annoyed by the 'Rambo-style' unilateral policies of French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

While German officials are trying not to show their frustrations with Sarkozy's 'gung-ho' political approach, the fact remains that Berlin has been irritated, to say the least, over the French leader's policies.

Whether it is Sarkozy's calls for a tougher European stance on Iran's nuclear program amid ongoing negotiations with UN watchdog or his proposal for Berlin to have a political stake in France's atomic weapons arsenal or his signing of the French-Libyan nuclear deal, all of this has led to the bewilderment of the German government.

Although Merkel and Sarkozy appeared very cordial and all-smiles in front of television cameras when they recently held informal talks near Berlin, things are reportedly very different behind the political scenes.

Small wonder Ahamdinejad and Putin are smiling. All is back to normal. They knew if they just waited a while, the West will renew its infighting. Heartbreaking.