Middle East Conflict
Print Review Author: Sven Felix Kellerhoff | 08:45
Like the weapons to Yasser Arafat's PLO GDR delivered
About the relationships between PLO and DDR is not well known. A new study shows how Ulbricht and Honecker worked together with the terrorist organization.
Foreign policy is power politics - There is no room for morality. Following this maxim, at least negotiated the GDR. This is seen especially well in the Middle East policy of the SED, which was always focused on the benefits for their own interests. Now, some four decades after the start of intensive relations between the GDR and the Palestine Liberation Organization under Yasser Arafat, for the first time the outlines of this calculus are precisely identified.
As the GDR Guided tour Yasser Arafat supported
Yasser Arafat visited the GDR 1982
Photo: picture-alliance / dpa/A9999_DB_ADN With one socialist "Brotherly Kiss" welcomes GDR state and party leader Erich Honecker on 9 March 1982 the head of the PLO, Yasser Arafat. The SED-dictatorship was the first country in Europe, which the PLO was formally recognized.
This is the merit of the young historian Lutz Maek, the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich - Berlin wrote his doctoral thesis. The most important foreign policy interests of the East German dictatorship was the international recognition as a "normal" state - despite orders to shoot at the wall and inner-German border. This was Walter Ulbricht and Erich Honecker's successor be willing to risk a lot - even the collaboration with a terrorist organization.
Political and moral support for the PLO
Already in October 1969, East Berlin's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFAA) overstaffed, in view of the few States which have official contacts with the GDR talked, advised a cautious cooperation: "The GDR was to establish political contacts with the PLO and its political and moral and provide material support. "
At the same time, however, warned the East German diplomat: "The support of the Palestinian resistance movement must be in the scope, type and shape made so that an identification of the GDR with the ultra-nationalist demands of the Palestinian terrorist organization, and its partial forms of struggle is impossible."
Therefore, the MFAA saw the establishment of a PLO offices skeptical. Instead, it could allow perceive "relations with the Palestinian resistance movement, in particular to the PLO" of "social organizations of the GDR": "Lead Institution, the Afro-Asian Solidarity Committee of the GDR."
Medical assistance to PLO fighters
At that time the PLO was purely a terrorist organization, and any cooperation with it an open violation of the consensus of civilized nations not to support such groups. Nevertheless support the SED Politburo, the initiative and decided in April 1970, the conservative establishment of contacts in order to "raise the prestige of the GDR with the Arab nations continue".
The foreign policy aim for the widest possible recognition outweighed the concerns. After all, did the Politburo also states: "Nationalist Conceptions of Palestinian resistance organization, which include a liquidation of the State of Israel, are not supported." However, both civilian and "non-civilian" assistance is approved, a total of 1.5 million dollars for 1970.
About summer camps under civilian aid for Palestinians in East Germany fell and the medical aid for injured PLO fighters who were flown out for treatment in the GDR. What was meant by "non-civilian" agency, can be read on a task from the year 1973. The GDR in fact secretly committed to deliver the 2000 PLO-machine guns, 500 detonators, ten sniper rifles and 1,000 backpacks.
Arafat visited East Berlin
At the time, PLO leader Yasser Arafat had already been officially welcomed several times in East Berlin. Yet in 1971 he traveled as a guest of the "Afro-Asian Solidarity Committee of the GDR" to the Brandenburg Gate, he arrived two years later, as an official guest of the SED to the X. World Youth Festival.
Thus joined exactly what Israel's ambassador in Bonn, Ben-Horin Eliashiv, already on 24 November 1971 had predicted: "The two German states will find themselves in the foreseeable future in some Arab countries in competition with each other. This is the East German cold logic undertaken that they will support the Arab cause in the most extreme totally against us. "
Applicable summarizes Maek Lutz: "The visit by Arafat signaled the GDR after its diplomatic recognition to maintain the continuity of their enemy-Israel foreign policy not only continue but in a new form."
The Stasi monitored the PLO representative
For the SED, the de facto recognition of the PLO took place in the context of relations between the Federal Republic and Israel. In the official GDR ideology West Germany was considered a "neofascist" and Israel as "Zionist-imperialist", which only should be a special form of "fascist". Through recognition and support of Israel's mortal enemy of Arafat hoped the Politburo also advantages in the struggle with the larger, more successful, democratic, that is: the better part of Germany.
This did, however, the Ministry of State Security does not monitor the soon to set up unofficial PLO office in East Berlin by spies. At times, up to eight simultaneously IM reported on the work of PLO representatives. In addition, we held in contact with other, more radical representatives of Palestinian organizations such as George Habash, the PFLP was responsible for half a dozen hijackings and other attacks. In the eighties supported the Stasi even the radical group led by Abu Nidal massive, deadly enemy, Yasser Arafat a Palestinian.
The duplicity of course not confined to the SED - including the PLO leader orchestrated the relations with the GDR almost at will. He played with the inner-German conflict and drew advantages from it: "Arafat knew that he needed Western Europe, and tried to strengthen its position in the Federal Republic also about his relationship with the GDR."
Honecker Arrafat experienced political end
The German-German dimension, the use of strategic thinking presupposed, was crucial, writes Maek ". That was Arafat's dual policy towards Germany" However, when Erich Honecker in the second half of the eighties and more clearly longed to supplement the relationships that he gave without hesitation the previous ally low.
A spy in the PLO office in East Berlin reported to the Stasi on there led secret talks: "An important component of the policy of the GDR, their, infamous Jew-friendly ', whether with which the Secretary of the SED Central Committee, Comrade Honecker, one ticket . would obtain in the United States' "This, however, not succeeded - about his reception in Bonn, the aged dictator came out no longer.
From the front row followed by the way Yasser Arafat, the end of Honecker's power. He was sitting on the 7th October 1989 at the central table of the official guests at the Palace of the Republic and listened to the last speech in the political life of Erich Honecker. What did he think it is not known. In any case Germany's dual policy had been successful: From the second-class guest in East Berlin of 1971 was both a respected politician in the GDR has become such in the Federal Republic.
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