For All Nails #297: Jerusalem Folly
by Noel Maurer
Ambassador Taher Aswad was not a happy man. He did not pretend to understand Jerusalem's instructions. But he had them, and he had to carry them out. He was not surprised when he was called to the Chancellery. He liked the Chancellery. It was imposing. It had the grandeur befitting one of the world's foremost powers. Unfortunately, that only made him think more of Jerusalem's folly.
After passing through a layer of security, Ambassador Aswad met Foreign Minister Merkel in his office.
"Herr Ambassador, do come in," said Merkel. "Please, have a seat." He motioned to one of the plush armchairs in front of his desk.
"Thank you, Minister." Merkel was acting solely in his position as the chief representative of the German Empire: this was not Eurobund business. Aswad settled into one of the chairs. Merkel, ever certain to avoid affronting the sensibilities of his guests from the so-called external Empire, took the other.
The minister leaned forward and said, "Herr Ambassador, you will be pleased to hear that my government has decided to honor the terms of our agreement with the Hashemite Kingdom of Arabia. The military activity in the Sinai is a clear threat to the Victoria Canal. We, therefore, will call our troops out of their garrisons and deploy along the canal, in order to insure that it is not damaged." It went unstated that such a deployment would cut the Egyptian supply lines and rapidly cause their offensive to collapse.
Ambassador Aswad had been expecting this. "Thank you. The Hashemite Kingdom of Arabia greatly appreciates the support of the German Empire in this crisis. We feel, however, that the Victoria Canal is not in danger from the Egyptian aggression, and we would prefer that your troops remain in their positions in Port Said and Suez City, where they can continue to defend the Canal against potential aggressors from outside the region."
Merkel blinked. "Excuse me, Herr Ambassador?"
"We ... um ... we would prefer that the German Empire not be seen as interfering in this conflict, Herr Minister."
"We would be intervening only to protect the canal, Herr Ambassador, as per the clauses of our treaty with your government."
"That is true, and we sincerely appreciate the motion. I am sure that you are aware, however, of the Egyptian government's pledge not to intervene in the operation of the canal or its revenue-sharing agreement with the Kingdom of Arabia."
"Yes, we are aware of Herr Ismael-Ali's statements to that effect. We do not find those statements credible in light of recent events."
Ambassador Aswad nodded. "Nor do we, to be perfectly frank. We do, however, believe that we can defeat the Egyptian incursion without the direct interference of the German Empire, although any materiel support that you can provide would be, of course, greatly appreciated."
"In other words, you want to fight the Egyptians on your own."
"That is correct, Herr Minister."
Merkel thought for a brief moment. "Is your government prepared to go public with this request?"
"We have already prepared a statement to that effect. It will be going out over our national vitavision network this evening, Herr Minister." Aswad was certain that Merkel noticed his use of the phrase "it will be going out," rather than other more subjunctive constructions. His government was going to request that the Germans stay out regardless of Berlin's decision.
Merkel nodded. "Well, thank you, Herr Ambassador. This was a very enlightening meeting." Merkel moved as if to stand up from his chair.
"No, thank you, Herr Ambassador. It is, as always, a pleasure." Aswad stood up, and reflexively brushed off the front of his suit. The two men shook hands, and Merkel escorted the Ambassador to the door from his office.
Once in the hall, his feet clacking down the imposing marble floors of the Chancellery, Aswad's unhappiness returned in full. We are forsaking the aid of the great German Empire, he thought to himself, for nothing more than the King's pride. This is folly.
He consoled himself by thinking, The Kingdom is weak. We are sitting atop a tiger. The last thing we need is for the people to think that we are nothing more than a German puppet, incapable of defending them without Berlin's aid.
The thought only consoled him for a second. If the Kingdom were truly so fragile that Jerusalem felt that it could not accept German intervention without fearing internal collapse, then perhaps Ismael-Ali and his minions were not the biggest threat after all. He shuddered, and moved out the broad entranceway of the Chancellery into Berlin's summer heat.
Forward to #298: Love Story.
Forward to 11 May 1985: Domestic Scene.
Return to For All Nails.