BERLIN/BAGHDAD/TEHERAN | | irakiran

BERLIN/BAGHDAD/TEHERAN (Own report) - Today, Thursday, NATO’s defense ministers begin their preparations for the war alliance’s Iraq mission, NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg announced in light of the ministers’ meeting ending today in Brussels. The mission is in accordance with US demands, which not only seek to empower Iraqi armed forces to permanently suppress IS, but particularly, to scale back Teheran’s significant influence on Baghdad. Iran owes its new influence in Iraq and other countries of the region - from Syria to Yemen and Qatar - to the failed and bloody wars and various aggressions by the West and its closest Middle East allies. Teheran could not have achieved its current influence in Baghdad, without the 2003 US invasion and subsequent extensive destruction of the country. Berlin signaled its interest to participate in the upcoming NATO mission to Iraq. more…

BERLIN/WASHINGTON | | usa

BERLIN/WASHINGTON (Own report) - In Washington serious warnings are being raised against an independent German-European military policy aimed at weakening NATO. The militarization of the EU is being supported as long as "it is complimentary to NATO," a senior Pentagon official was quoted. However, Washington would intervene, if Berlin and the EU were to pull military resources away from NATO and use them for their own wars. This statement was made in light of the NATO defense ministers' meeting that begins today, which will include a decision on the establishment of two new NATO headquarters. One will be established in the United States, to secure the military supply routes from North America over the Atlantic to Europe. A second will be established in Germany, to optimize rapid redeployments of West European troops eastwards across the continent. At the current stage of planning, this will be under German sovereignty and available also for use outside of the NATO framework. more…

BERLIN/LONDON | | grossbritannien

BERLIN/LONDON (Own report) - In the course of the Brexit negotiations, apprehension is mounting in Brussels over possible divisions among the remaining 27 EU countries, according to a report about a leaked document on the current debate between EU member countries. Berlin is obviously seeking to delay the formulation of EU positions on the future relationship with the United Kingdom as long as possible, to prevent giving London tactical advantages in the negotiations. The 27 EU countries have, in fact, quite diverging interests in relationship to Great Britain. The German automobile industry is exerting massive pressure to keep the United Kingdom in the customs union. German car companies expect annual losses of up to two billion euros, if new trade barriers are erected. On the other hand, the Eastern and Southeastern European countries attach great importance to freedom of circulation. For example, the money Polish residents in Great Britain send home amounts to 1.5 percent of the Polish Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Other countries receive three to six percent of their GDP this way. more…

BERLIN/BRUSSELS/STOCKHOLM | | schweden

BERLIN/BRUSSELS/STOCKHOLM (Own report) - Officially neutral Sweden can be considered a "de facto member" of NATO, a Swedish foreign policy expert confirmed in a new German foreign policy periodical. Last fall's large maneuver in Sweden sent a clear "message" that the country's neutrality has "de facto been suspended," completely changing the entire military "map" of the Baltic region "to NATO's advantage." In fact, back already in the 1990s, Sweden had begun to build links to the western war alliance; crucial decisions had been taken already before the Ukraine conflict's escalation and Crimea's integration into the Russian Federation. The Bundeswehr is heavily involved in integrating the Swedish armed forces into NATO's structures, focusing on naval cooperation. This cooperation is aiming at including the Swedish military into NATO's naval operations. The cooperation of the naval forces is not limited to NATO's framework, but may also be within that of the EU. more…

BERLIN/VILNIUS/RUKLA | | litauen

BERLIN/VILNIUS/RUKLA (Own report) - One year after the first deployment of German troops in Lithuania, the Bundeswehr has begun its third troop rotation. Within the framework of NATO's anti-Russia troop concentration in the Baltic region and Poland, the 292nd light infantry battalion from the town of Donaueschingen will take command of the multinational battle group in Rukla. The Bundeswehr is simultaneously enhancing its bilateral cooperation with Lithuania's armed forces, which are increasingly replacing old US-produced weaponry with German arms. They are buying the German Fuchs armored transport vehicles, worth 385 million euros - the country's most expensive procurement so far. This is one of the reasons why the Lithuanian military budget has skyrocketed 2.5 times its 2014 volume. The cooperation with Germany has been supplemented by the creation of a paramilitary force, being instructed by the Lithuanian army in Afghan insurgent combat techniques. more…

BERLIN/WINDHOEK | | namibia

BERLIN/WINDHOEK (Own report) - Berlin is forced to change its strategy in its efforts to ward off reparations demands for the genocide Germany carried out on the Ovaherero and Nama. Until now, the German government has simply refused to appear in court in New York for the class action lawsuit that had been opened in January 2017 and has refused to receive the court documents, in the hopes of causing a mistrial. It has finally decided to send a representative to the court hearings, not because of the massive protest by the victims' heirs, but because of a political intervention by the US embassy in Berlin, which no longer wanted to tolerate this brazen contempt of a US court. The German government however insists that it does not recognize the legitimacy of the New York court case - because of its claim of an alleged "state immunity." The victims' heirs have been considering occupation of the land that had once been robbed from the Ovaherero and Nama and is still owned by the heirs of German colonialists. more…

BERLIN/ERBIL/AL AZRAQ | | irak

BERLIN/ERBIL/AL AZRAQ (Own report) - The German Bundeswehr is about to reorient its presence in the Middle East. At their exploratory talks to form a coalition government, the CDU-CSU/SPD decided to phase out the mandate to train Iraq's Kurdish Peshmerga in Erbil - already at the end of April, according to recent information. At the same time, the German Armed Forces is preparing for a possible long-term deployment at the al-Azraq Air Base in Jordan. In addition to flying reconnaissance missions from this base, "other assignments" are in discussion, for example the training of Iraqi soldiers or dispatching "advisors" to various countries in the region. For many years, Berlin has been focused on obtaining political, economic and military influence in the Iraq's Kurdish autonomous region. However, the September 25, 2017 referendum on secession has considerably weakened the region, exposing it to growing Iranian influence. For the time being, it can hardly be considered a vehicle serving to implement German interests. more…

BERLIN/PARIS | | frankreich

BERLIN/PARIS (Own report) - Berlin and Paris are seeking a "new Élysée Treaty." On the 55th anniversary of the original 1963 Élysée Treaty, in which the Federal Republic of Germany and France committed themselves to hold "consultations" on major political issues, Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron announced the drafting of a new treaty aimed at "deepening" cooperation between the two countries and "strengthening" the EU. In a declaration, the parliaments of both countries called, for harmonizing almost the "complete range of policy issues." This would amount to massively enhancing the "German-French axis" and would impede the formation of significant intra-European alliances directed against it. At the same time, discussions on marginal intra-European financial transfers continue, which could offset the consequences - at least to a certain extent - of Germany's export surplus. Without these transfers, the economically divided euro zone threatens to disintegrate further. more…

WINDHOEK/BERLIN | | namibia

WINDHOEK/BERLIN (Own report) - Next week's (January 25) scheduled New York trial date in the reparations class action lawsuit for the German genocide carried out on the Ovaherero and the Nama, threatens again to be aborted. The Berlin Senate's Department of Justice continues to refuse receipt of the trial documents, being transferred to the German government, in accordance with international agreements. As confirmed by an internal memorandum, the Department of Justice is only obligated to forward documents concerning civil and commercial conflicts, not indictments concerning genocide, and the German government considers the Ovaherero - Nama lawsuit in violation of its "state immunity." Berlin is also invoking this "state immunity" argument against lawsuits brought by the decedents of victims of massacres committed by the Nazi SS and Wehrmacht in Greece and Italy. This argument has been raised to the level of a universal instrument to ward off prosecution for horrendous war crimes, and is applied even for crimes that were recently committed. more…

TUNIS/BERLIN | | tunesien

TUNIS/BERLIN (Own report) - Protests continue against the new Finance Act, which is leading to drastic price hikes in Tunisia, a site of German low wage production. The IMF had imposed the Act on the country to combat the consequences of the structural crisis, in which Germany had played a role in creating. German enterprises and the German government have contributed to Tunisia’s focusing its production on but a few export sectors - particularly the textile and cable production - which cannot offer any real possibilities for the country's development. Because of its heavy dependence on foreign enterprises, Tunis was forced to grant investors tax benefits, which helped drive that country into a dept trap. Last year, Tunisia had to pay nearly a fifth of its budget to foreign creditors, according to a study by the German Left Party-affiliated Rosa Luxemburg Foundation. Within the framework of the G20-"Compact with Africa," Berlin is shaping Tunisia to fit the interests of German investors. more…