Question and counter-question: People are protesting against the Covid-19 restriction measures. Above all, they are posing the public question “Qui bono Corona?” No sooner has the question been asked than a conspiracy theory is developing. Conspiracy theories are spreading rapidly through the internet and are underpinned by the simplest infotainment compilations of “facts”, thus destabilizing society. Their supporters are now deliberately torpedoing the Covid-19 measures. The consequences: more contagion, the binding of state capacities, higher costs for the general public and economic problems, more potential for conflict within society, in the end possibly even chaos.
But taking the step of regulating the internet because of this? Who should define which is a perspective, a research result or a systematic destabilization? Conspiracy theories are aimed at those who are undecided. Intelligence services should therefore pursue the question “Qui bono conspiracy theory?” and uncover who benefits from the propagated conspiracy theories. This is the only way indecisive but mature citizens can draw their own conclusions. Some questions ask for a counter-question.
Warm greetings from
– Editor Defensio Briefing –
Amnesty International accuses Syria and Russia of war crimes: Amnesty International has accused Syria and Russia of a myriad of serious violations of international humanitarian law in northwest Syria. Citing 18 air and ground attacks between April 2019 and late February 2020, the rights group blamed the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and allied Russian forces which have retaken swathes of Syria and encroached on Idlib, an enclave crowded with 3 million civilians and rebels, near the border with Turkey. Drawing on interviews with 70 people, including United Nations staff, and using satellite imagery and radio traffic, Amnesty’s regional director Heba Morayef said the attacks were aimed at terrorizing the civilian population. In two attacks, Syrian troops had used the method of barrel bombing, said Amnesty, also blaming the Syrian regime for a recent cluster bomb attack on a school.
Tensions between China and the US are growing because of Covid: The coronavirus pandemic is fueling the rivalry between the United States and China. Tensions have already flared on a few fronts since the pandemic started. Washington and Beijing are sniping at one another about the true extent and origin of the virus outbreak. US President Donald Trump threatened tariffs again. The two countries have even squabbled about the South China Sea issue. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently announced that there are indications that the coronavirus came from a laboratory in Wuhan – the Chinese, on the other hand, said that the virus had been around for a long time and came from the United States. Meanwhile, experts are discussing the possibility of an armed conflict. This is rated as highly unlikely, but not impossible. Both governments insist on national pride and fuel the escalation potential. China’s territorial claims in the East China Sea could give rise to the next stage of escalation.
1000 Russian paramilitaries in Libya according to UN report: Russian operatives are engaged in a large-scale effort in Libya to bolster eastern commander Khalifa Haftar through a mix of technical support, direct involvement in combat operations and sophisticated influence campaigns, according to United Nations experts. About 800 to 1,200 mercenaries from the Wagner group have been actively operating in Libya since 2018, including at least 39 Russian snipers on the front lines, the UN experts monitoring sanctions on the North African country wrote in a report. The Russian deployment has further complicated international efforts to end the conflict in Libya. The United Arab Emirates had already entered the conflict on Haftar’s behalf, while Turkey has been assisting the government. There is a suspected connection of the Wagner Group to the Kremlin – the group is said to have already been used in other regions such as the Ukraine and the Central African Republic. Journalists who researched the case died in 2018.
Concerns over coronavirus protests: The government in Germany is increasingly concerned about protests against the exit restrictions to fight the pandemic. Conspiracy theorists and anti-democratic forces that portray Germany as an authoritarian state fuel insecurity among the population. Doctors and experts are asking digital corporations to take more action against disinformation in social networks. SPD party leader Saskia Esken and CDU general secretary Paul Ziemiak see an increased threat to internal security that comes from divisive forces. In the past week, there have also been repeated attacks on police forces by demonstrators.
Hearing on armed drones: At a hearing Monday, the German parliament discussed the arming of unmanned drones. For a long time, this was considered ethically controversial, but more politicians across party lines are speaking out in favor of it. Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer supported the plans. The outgoing military commissioner of the federal government, Hans-Peter Bartels, said: “Nobody in Germany wants to take the American use of armed drones for targeted killings as an example”, but drones are suitable to provide rapid airspace support for reconnaissance missions.
Senkaku Islands: Chinese ships are again approaching islands claimed by Japan handelsblatt.com
Because of Covid: Iran offers US prisoner exchange without preconditions reuters.com
Arms race: Nuclear arms control in danger swp-berlin.org
Waldkraiburg: Isis terror in Bavaria dw.com
Refugees in World War II: A story of war, coldness and death sueddeutsche.de
NUMBER OF THE WEEK
According to Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office, 2,000 anti-Semitic crimes were registered in 2019 – an increase of 13 percent compared to the previous year.
Main prosecutor of the Nuremberg trials looks back: Benjamin Ferencz is now 100 years old and in 1947, at the age of 27, contributed to the investigation of war crimes as chief prosecutor in the ninth of the twelve Nuremberg trials. He recalls conversations with decision-makers who were responsible for the mass murder of the Jewish population – many of whom were cultivated and educated but driven by deep nationalist convictions. After the Nuremberg trials, Ferencz was instrumental in founding the international criminal court ICC. He criticizes that until today war has been glorified, even though there is no armed conflict without war crimes. In his view, humanity must stop acts of war, since anyone could easily become a mass murderer during a war. The American is critical of the White House’s isolation policy – international cooperation is essential for peacekeeping.
China expands influence in Eastern Europe: China has made concerted attempts recently to rewrite the global narrative about the coronavirus pandemic, especially its own lack of transparency about the early outbreak in Wuhan, in order to project an image of itself as a responsible global power. It has shipped medical supplies to help countries around the world contain the virus’s spread and has launched a far-reaching disinformation campaign about the origins of the contagion and China’s response to it. Europe has been at the heart of these efforts. Chinese state media outlets have insinuated that Italy was the source of the coronavirus, while Beijing has faulted European countries for their allegedly poor crisis management and supplied medical aid of poor quality. All this has caused a backlash in some quarters of Europe.
West African soldiers in World War II: More than a million African soldiers served in colonial armies in World War II. Some served in Africa or Europe; others fought on battlegrounds in the Middle East or as far afield as India, Myanmar and the Pacific Islands. Many veterans experienced prejudice during the war and little gratitude or compensation for their services afterwards. Some progress has been made – at least symbolically. On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Allied landing in Provence in southern France, President Emmanuel Macron expressed gratitude for the contribution of African soldiers in defeating the German forces occupying France.
“It is undisputed that the protection of one’s own forces with armed drones can be better than when one relies on other weapons. But there can be a dilemma if the higher level of protection of one’s own troops is associated with a higher risk for the civilian population, and this would blatantly contradict the rules of engagement of our armed forces, which are required, in the context of their operations, to protect the uninvolved, the civilian population in particular.”
Parliamentary State Secretary in the German Ministry of Defense, Peter Tauber, on the use of armed drones.
Iran sinks one of its own ships: The Iranian Navy has confirmed that 19 people died when one of its warships was hit by a missile during a training exercise. Fifteen more are reported to have been injured. The mishap took place off the Iranian port of Jask in the Sea of Oman on May 10.