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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2673

A friend intrigued is a friend indeed

Hemantha Abeywardena writes from London…

The CIA seems to be at it again; it can’t resist spying on the most modest woman politician in Europe, Angela Merkel of Germany, the government that she leads and the institutions that the Germans feel are under threat from grave form of espionage.

Germany, being a major ally of the West, feels being betrayed while the US appearing for them as a friend. Germany still considers the US as a great friend despite the setback.

Not only did Germany ask the top most CIA operative at the US embassy to leave the country, but also mocked the US for spying on ‘friends’ saying it was a waste of energy.

The US, however, does not see it that way – as a waste of energy. That is why it has been active in Germany up until it got caught somewhat red-handed. Germany, quite wrongly, may have thought that the episode is behind them, when Edward Snowdon first shed light on the damaging development.

Mr Snowdon said that the US spied on Angela Merkel’s phone which resulted in a major diplomatic impasse between the two nations. Although, they appeared to have ironed out their differences since, the mutual mistrust seems to exist in both camps.

Germany arrested two officials who allegedly passed the information on to the CIA operative in question.
Germany made its feelings clear on the issue, yet fell short of expelling the spy man. Instead, German government asked the man in question to leave the country – and diplomatically.

The US, on its part, remains tight-lipped on the issue, as it may have realized the danger of defending the indefensible.

Germans wonder why the US target German interests for spying. Some say Germany’s closeness to Russia could be an issue: Angela Merkel is not keen on tightening the sanctions against Russia; the relationship between Ms Merkel and President Putin, a fluent German speaker, seems to be strong, much to the annoyance of the US; moreover, Germany vehemently oppose getting involved in any military conflict.

Analysts believe that the above issues are compelling the US not to spare the Germans in order to further their interests.

Both countries, however, know the need of Mutual Corporation for a variety of reasons, especially on the economic front. In this context, they may iron out differences once again – up until the next scandal breaks out, of course.

Espionage is a brutal game and every country is engaged in it. It will be a great surprise if Germany can put its hand up and say that it doesn’t do it. The more powerful nations do it openly with the use of polar satellites on daily basis with no emotional backlash.

So, the issue is not about whether a nation is involved in spying or not, but the scale of the involvement especially using modern technological gadgets.

Since ambitious spying episodes breed the mistrust even among the allies, in due course, the long term damage has the potential to outweigh any information collected so laboriously, especially at a time when the allies should be united for a variety of reasons, not drifted towards its polar opposite.

- Asian Tribune -

A friend intrigued is a friend indeed
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