BERLIN/WASHINGTON | | usa

BERLIN/WASHINGTON (Own report) - German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has once again reaffirmed that the German government insists on continuing with the highly controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. Despite persistent pressure from Washington, there will be no interference in the construction of the pipeline - which has long since begun - reiterated Maas at this years annual UN General Assembly in New York. At the same time, US efforts to promote the sale of US liquefied gas to Germany are stagnating. If the liquefied gas would be priced closer to the currently much cheaper pipeline gas, it could certainly be considered, according to the Uniper company (formerly EON). Uniper is currently contemplating the construction of a liquefied gas terminal in Wilhelmshaven. However, it would not even have one-fifth of the import capacity of Nord Stream 2. Plans for constructing a terminal in Brunsbüttel, which currently have the best chances of implementation, envisage the importation of only half as much LNG - primarily to fuel ships and trucks. more…

BERLIN/ANKARA | | tuerkei

BERLIN/ANKARA (Own report) - Turkish President Recep Tayyig Erdoğan's arrival in Berlin on a state visit amid media reports of arms cooperation with his country and of state-sponsored denunciation, using a smartphone app of those - also in Germany - critical of his government. Erdoğan will be received with all protocolary state honors, since the German government wants to strengthen its ties to Ankara at all costs. There is a growing risk that Ankara will turn its back on the West. Germany seeks to strengthen these ties because of Turkey's contribution to warding off refugees and particularly for geostrategic motives. Turkey is regarded as the indispensable isthmus to Germany gaining the much-coveted influence in Central Asia and the Middle East. Ankara is also facilitating the participation of Berlin in achieving an alignment in Syria, together with Moscow - but with the exclusion of Washington. Expansion of German-Turkish cooperation involves contracts in the billions for German companies and German participation in the development of Turkey's own arms industry. more…

BERLIN |

BERLIN (Own report) - The extreme right in Germany is celebrating the promotion of Hans-Georg Maaßen, the outgoing President of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) - the domestic intelligence agency - to become State Secretary in the Ministry of the Interior as a new success. Maaßen had sought to shield right-wing demonstrators by relativizing racist attacks on migrants. He had already manifested a certain affinity toward parliamentarians of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. Maaßen's promotion comes at a time, when a growing number of sectors of the German establishment - in politics, business, and the media - are undergoing a shift to the right. The AfD party is the most prominent example, whose group in the Bundestag is chaired by a former head of the state chancellery in Hesse alongside a former Goldman Sachs employee. Other examples include elite organizations - such as the Friedrich A. von Hayek Foundation - under the leadership of ultra-rightwing forces. Already in 2010, an influential government advisor reported that there were discussions about "a bit of dictatorship" however, "no constitutional organ" was prepared to take the necessary steps. more…

BERLIN/ROME |

BERLIN/ROME (Own report) -The German government's remarkable decision to establish diplomatic relations with a religious order will have its first anniversary in the next few days. During its last session prior to last year's parliamentary elections, the German cabinet chose to establish diplomatic relations with the Sovereign Order of Malta, thereby ostensibly valorizing this Catholic organization. The Order disposes of no genuine sovereign territory, is seen as an archconservative association of aristocrats, and has been repeatedly suspected of involvement in dubious financial transactions in Germany and elsewhere. It has proven, however, to be a useful tool for Berlin's foreign policy - with its medical emergency missions accompanying NATO operations or in regions of German interests, such as Syria and Northern Iraq. Within the Order, which is active on a global scale, the German Association has systematically risen in status over the past few years to assume leadership of the organization today. more…

BERLIN/BAGHDAD/AL AZRAQ | | irakjordanien

BERLIN/BAGHDAD/AL AZRAQ (Own report) - Berlin is considering the establishment of a permanent Bundeswehr base in the Middle East, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said during her recent visits to Jordan and Iraq. German Armed Forces could be stationed at Jordan's Al Azraq Airbase for an extended period in relative proximity to Iraq - similar to the US Persian Gulf bases. Despite the military victory already achieved over the IS, the Bundeswehr's deployment will, for the time being, be continued within the framework of the Anti-IS Coalition, to help rebuild Iraq, the German minister announced in Baghdad. Berlin has been seeking new influence in Iraq, for quite some time, also because Iran has been able to enhance massively its position in the country over the past few years. German Tornados taking off from Al Azraq Airbase, have already furnished reconnaissance data leading to the bombing of a school. Their flights over Syria are possibly in violation of international law. more…

BERLIN/BRUSSELS |

BERLIN/BRUSSELS (Own report) - The EU must develop the capacity "to shape global affairs" and act as "architect of tomorrow's world," declared Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission during his "State of the Union" speech yesterday. The speech is modeled on the famous annual "State of the Union Address" presented by the US President to a joint session of Congress. Juncker particularly wants to accelerate the EU's militarization and the fortification of its external borders. While the German-dominated Union is striving to become a global power, at all costs, tensions within the EU are growing significantly. The disciplinary action adopted yesterday by the European Parliament against Hungary, which has been undermining democratic rights for years, exacerbates the conflict between the West European centers of power and the EU's eastern members. The blatant prosperity gap between the EU's center and the impoverished periphery continues unabated. Serious violations of human rights, particularly against refugees, accompany the internally disunited Union's striving for a global role. more…

BERLIN/WASHINGTON |

BERLIN/WASHINGTON (own report) Seventeen years after the September 11 terror attacks, German government advisors are calling for a re-evaluation of the ongoing "War on Terror." As the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) writes in its recent analysis, in the aftermath of the attacks, western governments introduced numerous measures - in the name of the "War on Terror" - such as "detention without trial" or mass "surveillance without probable cause," which had been heavily criticized at the time. Many of these measures remain in force today. Although they are "systematically undermining human and civil rights," their criticism has largely fallen mute. This observation applies to Germany as well. In the name of the "War on Terror," Germany has intensified domestic repression - and the US is waging its drone war of extra-judicial assassinations of suspects from German territory. Politicians, who, since 2001, have been involved in abducting suspects to CIA torture chambers, remain in top government positions. more…

BERLIN/YEREVAN | | armenien

BERLIN/YEREVAN (Own report) - In its new efforts in its power struggle with Russia to gain leverage in the South Caucasus, Berlin is striving to enhance relations, not only with Georgia and Azerbaijan, but also to strengthen its ties with Armenia. Germany would like to strengthen cooperation with Yerevan, Chancellor Angela Merkel confirmed during her recent brief visit to the country. Armenia is one of the poorest countries in Europe and the poorest in the South Caucasus. Buffeted by two decades of radical neo-liberal remedies, the war with Azerbaijan as well as the ongoing conflict with NATO member Turkey, Armenia retreated under Russia’s protective umbrella and, in 2015, joined the Moscow-dominated Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). Last spring, however, a new government came to power in Yerevan following a coup that was fueled by the ongoing corruption. As a strong critic of several Moscow led alliances, the new Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan is seen as a ray of hope for German political strategists. more…

"Rebels"

DAMASCUS/BERLIN/WASHINGTON | | syrien

DAMASCUS/BERLIN/WASHINGTON (Own report) - Berlin and the EU are intensifying pressure on Damascus in view of the Syrian troops' presumed imminent offensive in Idlib against the jihadi militias, including al-Qaeda's Syrian offshoot. According to a German government spokesperson, it is "anticipated" that the Russian government will "restrain the Syrian regime's escalation." Washington is threatening with an unspecified intervention, should chemicals weapons be used. Syrian jihadists have used chemical weapons in the past, and would be in a position to provoke this US intervention. Since last summer, the Syrian al-Qaeda offshoot Hayat Tahrir al-Sham is in control of Idlib Province, with some 30,000 combatants. Additional smaller, mostly salafist jihadi militias are also ready to battle the Syrian army. By referring to them as "rebels," politicians and media are downplaying the jihadists - including al-Qaeda - as the 17th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaches. more…