More than 10,000 participants at Covid protest in Stuttgart: Police have launched an investigation against organizers of the „Querdenker“ (lateral thinkers) march in Stuttgart for violating anti-pandemic measures during a rally on Saturday. While some 2,500 people were expected to join the rally, police estimated that over 10,000 ended up taking part. The protesters demanded an immediate end to lockdown measures, which they see as a violation of their human rights. The authorities arrested one man on suspicion of beating up a reporter, while a TV crew was forced to end their live report after protesters started pelting them with stones. The latest incident involving attacks on the media prompted anger from the head of DJV journalists‘ union, Frank Überall, who accused the police of „doing nothing to protect our colleagues.“ The „Querdenker“ movement is currently subject to monitoring by the domestic intelligence service, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, for the state of Baden Wuerttemberg, of which Stuttgart is the capital.
New volunteer service for homeland security starts: The first recruits have started their “voluntary service in homeland security” with the German Federal Armed Forces. Under the motto “Your year for Germany”, they will undergo a seven-month military training course. Afterwards, they can be called in for reserve operations for six years and thus support the Bundeswehr in crisis and disaster operations in Germany. During those six years, they will do another five months of service – but closer to home, in contrast to basic military service. After the three-month basic training, the recruits will receive a four-month “special basic training” in which they primarily learn about property protection. There were a total of 9,000 applications for the first 1,000 places, according to the defense ministry.
Investigation against KSK commander Markus Kreitmayr: German KSK Brigadier General Markus Kreitmayr is believed to have violated regulations when he came up with the unusual idea of telling his troops that they could return any ammunition and weapons that they might have taken home and that they could do so anonymously and without fear of punishment. At least 25,000 rounds of ammunition were duly returned between March and May 2020, according to the Bundestag’s Defense Committee, which was only recently informed about the initiative. Hand grenades were among the returned arms. What will become of Kreitmayr is unclear – for the time being. The public prosecutor’s office in Tübingen has started an official investigation against Kreitmayr. According to the public prosecutor’s office, there is suspicion of failure to participate in criminal proceedings under Section 40 of the Military Penal Act, which is punishable with prison time. In the civilian environment, one would speak of “thwarting punishment in office with the aim of protecting subordinates from punishment”. A spokesman for the public prosecutor emphasized, however, that this was an initial suspicion.
Russia rejects sanctions against the military junta in Myanmar: Russia said on Tuesday that sanctions against authorities in Myanmar were futile, extremely dangerous and could ultimately pushed the country towards civil war, the Interfax news agency reported. Myanmar has been rocked by protests since the army overthrew the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1st, making unsubstantiated claims of fraud in a November election. The coup and subsequent crackdown has led to Western sanctions on the military and its lucrative businesses.
Niger coup thwarted days before inauguration: Five days ago, Niger said it thwarted an attempted coup ahead of the inauguration of the next president. Armed attackers tried to seize the presidential palace last Wednesday but were fought off by the presidential guard, sources said. The attackers, reportedly from a nearby airbase, fled after being met with gunfire and shelling. A government spokesman said a number of arrests have been made and investigators are working to identify who was responsible. The incident came two days before the swearing in of President-elect Mohamed Bazoum. The former interior minister succeeds President Mahamadou Issoufou, who stepped down after a decade in power. The democratic transfer of power in a country prone to coups has won international praise, but Bazoum’s rival Mahamane Ousmane rejected the result of the election. There have been increasing attacks by jihadist groups as well as political tensions in the country following Bazoum’s victory.
International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action un.org
Italy expels two Russian officials over espionage case cnn.com
Al-Shabaab calls for attacks on US, French interests in Djibouti africanews.com
France’s foreign and security policy under President Macron: Consequences for Franco-German cooperation swp-berlin.org
NATO Mission: About the operational challenges in Iraq warontherocks.com
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Microsoft has secured an order of the US Department of Defense within the scope of just under 22 billion US dollars. The software line delivers 120,000 Hololens glasses to the Pentagon.
The dilemma with the Syria donor conference: Last week, Germany promised extensive aid at the Syria donor conference: Foreign Minister Heiko Maas pledged 1.7 billion euros to support the Syrian population and the refugees in the neighboring states of the civil war country. But Maas also pointed out that there will be no reconstruction in Syria without further political development. In his commentary “Not just out of charity”, foreign correspondent Jürgen Gottschlich asks some uncomfortable questions: The Assad regime is handling the emergency aid. The rulers don’t seem to care about the hardship and misery of the population. The situation is hardly better in the rebel-occupied areas. Do you want to support these states? Should one do that? The author finds sharp words for the German government: Of course, payments for humanitarian aid are supported if the alternative – an intervention of any kind – could possibly trigger new waves of migration.
Airbus tells French lawmakers there’s no ‘Plan B’ for FCAS: Airbus executives said they see no viable “Plan B” for the embattled Future Combat Air System, as Eric Trappier, the CEO of fellow prime contractor Dassault, suggested earlier this month. Antoine Bouvier, the head of Airbus strategy, mergers and public affairs, and Dirk Hoke, CEO of the aerospace giant’s defense division, testified before the French Senate’s foreign affairs committee on March 17 in an effort calm tensions boiling in the trinational program, known as FCAS (or SCAF in French). Airbus and Dassault are the two main contractors for the program, with work shares to be equally divided between partner nations France, Germany and Spain. The participants had envisioned kicking off the next project stage, dubbed Phase 1B, by this summer. But new disagreements over governance procedures and the sharing of industry secrets have put the program’s future in question.
„The Suez grounding was an accident. The next blocked chokepoint might not be.“
Scott Savitz, a senior engineer at the RAND Corporation, has warned that while the „Ever Giving“ appears to have gotten stuck by accident, military planners must remember that such blockages can be inflicted on purpose.
German government buys stake in defense supplier Hensoldt: The German government is buying a minority stake in defense supplier Hensoldt, a company that derives from European aircraft manufacturer Airbus’ former defense and security electronics division. The state-owned KfW development bank said Monday that it was buying 25.1% of the shares in Hensoldt on behalf of the federal government in Berlin. That gives the government a blocking minority under German law.