Germany Rebukes Its Own Intelligence Agency for Criticizing Saudi Policy
The German government issued an unusual public rebuke to its own foreign intelligence service on Thursday over a blunt memo saying that Saudi Arabia was playing an increasingly destabilizing role in the Middle East.
The intelligence agency’s memo risked playing havoc with Berlin’s efforts to show solidarity with France in its military campaign against the Islamic State and to push forward the tentative talks on how to end the Syrian civil war. The Bundestag, the lower house of the German Parliament, is due to vote on Friday on whether to send reconnaissance planes, midair fueling capacity and a frigate to the Middle East to support the French.
The memo was sent to selected German journalists on Wednesday. In it, the foreign intelligence agency, known as the BND, offered an unusually frank assessment of recent Saudi policy.
The intelligence agency’s memo was flatly repudiated by the German Foreign Ministry in Berlin, which said the German Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, had issued a statement making clear that “the BND statement reported by media is not the position of the federal government.”
Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the German foreign minister, “is in regular contact with his Saudi colleague Adel Al-Jubair, and has always stressed that the federal government counts on constructive cooperation with Saudi Arabia,” the statement added.
A government official in Berlin, speaking on condition of anonymity, added that it was the BND’s job “to supply the government with information, and to deliver hopefully clever analysis.”