08.05.2015 Author: Vladimir Platov

Germany’s Responsibility in the American War in the Middle East

G342341111After the end of World War II, Germany actively sought to present itself as a recreated peaceful state using its own armed forces for defensive purposes only and excluding the participation in operations of armed aggression against other foreign countries. In atonement of the ills that were endured by countries as a result of the unleashing by a fascist regime the World war, many of them received from the FRG government significant financial compensation for the war crimes of the Nazi regime, and even recently, German President Joachim Gauck expressed willingness to discuss the topic of reparations to Greece in connection with this question that has arisen recently in Athens.

However this “peace-loving” image of Germany has recently been called into question as a result of an investigation conducted by the online portal The Intercept together with the German publication Der Spiegel, who have classified US Intelligence documents testifying to the direct participation of Germany in military interventions of the USA in the Middle East.

As a result of investigative journalism it seems that Germany is an active participant of military operations performed by the USA by means of UAVs and thereby violating international law. The US military base in Ramstein, Germany and its activities plays the principal role of which the German government knew more than was officially recognised.

The base in Ramstein is the largest of the overseas US military bases. It is known as a transport-transfer point for American troops operating in the Middle East and the military and air forces of the USA in Europe (United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE), however its main strategic objective still remained a secret.

In 2000 the U.S. Air Force and CIA forces started using the Predator UAV in order to shadow Bin Laden in Afghanistan and Pakistan.When they started using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), they were communicated with from within the CIA headquarters in Langley, and then via fibre-optic cable linking the United States with the air base in Ramstein, operators controlled drones in the Afghanistan and Pakistan areas. However, the significant time lag of the signal due to its passage from Langley to the UAVs did not allow to use them efficiently. This situation was complicated by the fact that in 2009, shortly after the US president, Barack Obama came into office, he expanded the area of military use of US drones to include apart from Afghanistan and Pakistan also Yemen and Somalia. In addition, the Pentagon soon drew attention to the fact that using this satellite did not fully cover these regions and therefore the communication company Intelsat was instructed to move its satellite Galaxy-26 into a higher orbit, so that it can cover the entire Indian Ocean region. After that the military base in Ramstein become the main control centre of American drones and their use in military actions in the Near East, Africa and the Middle East.

According to the journalists who possess the classified documents, the Pentagon informed the German Ministry of Defence in writing as early as mid-November 2011 that the newest radio delay control station for drones were built in Ramstein worth $6 million.Without this station, transmitting video information and data from the UAV to the US command centre in real time would come with a delay of a few seconds and the elimination of the destruction of objects defined by the Pentagon and the CIA would most likely be impossible.

Today, the military base in Ramstein is one of the largest US bases located outside their borders. There are 16,000 troops and a smaller number of civilian personnel working there. The reconstruction and additional technical equipment of this base was completed in 2013, which now allows it to communicate through a US military contingent in Afghanistan, Djibouti, Qatar, Bahrain and implement active use of US combat drones in a considerable area of the region.

But one should not think that Ramstein is the only US military base in the ongoing drone war that is in violation of international norms. About an hour away from Wiesbaden the USA use the European Technical Center (ETC), which is the regional centre for the NSA engaged in electronic intelligence and supplying with intelligence information using the SIGINT system on US drone combat troops in Africa and the Middle East.

In 2013, the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and the German television channel ARD already showed the involvement of the Ramstein base in the US-led drone wars, which caused a wave of protests in the German society and demands for a thorough investigation. At that time, Obama resorted to the favourite tactic of lying and said in June 2013: “We do not use Germany as a launching point for US unmanned drones as part of our counter-terrorism activities. The German government presented by Chancellor Angela Merkel also supported this line of Washington at that time, without admitting Germany’s involvement in such a US war: “The U.S. Government has confirmed that these UAVs aren’t sent or controlled from US bases in Germany”.

However, materials of investigative journalism fully prove the falsity of such statements from Washington and Berlin, indicating that Germany with the consent of the authorities has been involved in the US drone war for many years, and, therefore, must share the responsibility for the deaths of thousands of civilians in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and other countries against which, in violation of international standards, the deadly force of US drones have been operated from the territory of Germany. So the question is whether Germany will pay financial compensation to those countries affected by the use of drones?

Vladimir Platov, an expert on the Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”