US envoy slams Germany after reluctance on Hormuz mission

Relations between the United States and Germany have soured since US President Donald Trump took office. (File/AFP)
Updated 01 August 2019

US envoy slams Germany after reluctance on Hormuz mission

  • German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas ruled out German participation in a planned US-led naval mission to the Strait of Hormuz
  • Expressing frustration about that decision, Ambassador Richard Grenell said Germany had a duty to fulfil

BERLIN: The US ambassador to Germany launched a scathing attack on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government on Thursday for its reluctance to join a naval mission in the Strait of Hormuz, saying Europe’s biggest economy must assume more global responsibility.
Relations between the United States and Germany have soured since US President Donald Trump took office, due to disagreements on a range of issues from defense spending to trade tariffs, the NordStream 2 gas pipeline and Iran.
On Wednesday, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas ruled out German participation in a planned US-led naval mission to the Strait of Hormuz, close to Iran, after the US said it had made a formal request. He said Germany wanted to ease tensions with Iran and everything should be done to avoid an escalation.
Expressing frustration about that decision, Ambassador Richard Grenell said Germany had a duty to fulfil and told the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper:
“Germany is the biggest economic power in Europe. This success brings global responsibilities.”
He said the United States had been trying to get support from Germany for weeks for the military mission in the Strait of Hormuz, and that while one minister spoke of looking at the requests, the foreign minister had rejected it.
Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer had said in Brussels that Germany was “reviewing” the request, striking a softer tone than Maas.
On the front line of the Cold War, West Germany was one of the United States’ closest allies, embraced as a bulwark against Communism after the World War Two defeat of Nazi rule.
“America has sacrificed a lot to help Germany remain part of the West,” Grenell told the newspaper, adding Americans were paying huge sums for 34,000 soldiers to be stationed in Germany.
Grenell has courted controversy since arriving in Berlin last year with his outspoken views and criticism of Germany.
On another issue that has caused friction, a US Senate committee on Wednesday passed a bill to slap sanctions on companies, including several German firms, and individuals involved in building the NordStream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany.


Philippine court dismisses case seeking $3.9bn of Marcos wealth

Updated 36 min 20 sec ago

Philippine court dismisses case seeking $3.9bn of Marcos wealth

  • The country’s anti-graft court decided in favor of the Marcoses for the fourth time since August
  • Judges ruled that photocopied documents could not be used as evidence, so the case would not proceed

MANILA: A Philippine court threw out a high-profile, 32-year-old forfeiture case on Monday involving the family of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, citing insufficient evidence to order the return of $3.9 billion of allegedly ill-gotten wealth.
The country’s anti-graft court decided in favor of the Marcoses for the fourth time since August, with judges ruling that photocopied documents could not be used as evidence, so the case would not proceed.
It has been referred to widely as the “mother” of cases in a three-decade effort by a special presidential panel to recover an estimated $10 billion allegedly siphoned off by Marcos and a family that had lived lavishly during his 20 years in power, 14 of which were ruled under martial law.
The case lodged by the Presidential Commission on Good Government had sought the return of 200 billion pesos ($3.93 billion) it said was tied up in equities, numerous local and foreign banks and real estate at home and in the United States and United Kingdom.
It also included the value of 177 paintings and 42 crates of jewelry worth nearly $9 million.
In a 58-page verdict, the court “acknowledged the atrocities committed during martial law under the Marcos regime and the ‘plunder’ committed on the country’s resources.”
“However, absent sufficient evidence that may lead to the conclusion that the subject properties were indeed ill-gotten wealth, the court cannot simply order the return of the same to the national treasury.”
The same court dismissed similar cases against the family in August, September and October, all for lack of evidence.
Despite being overthrown in a 1986 revolt and driven into exile, the Marcos family remain a powerful force in the Philippines, with loyalists throughout the bureaucracy and political and business elite.
The late leader’s wife Imelda was a four-term congresswoman, daughter Imee is currently a senator, as was son and namesake Ferdinand Marcos Jr, who has been tipped as a possible candidate for the presidency in 2022. A relative is the current Philippine ambassador to the United States.
The family has a powerful ally too in President Rodrigo Duterte, who has spoken well of the former dictator, backed Imee’s senate run and expressed a desire for Marcos Jr to have been his vice president.