No Free Lunch for Trump: US President Donald Trump has ordered the withdrawal of around 6,000 US soldiers from Germany. Admittedly, Trump had repeatedly warned the German government to adhere to the target of spending 2 percent of the country’s GDP on defense, and Germany hasn’t responded. The troop withdrawal is therefore also an economic penalty for the affected regions.
In the short term, Trump used the withdrawal to make a point. But the United States is also giving up part of its privileged position in Germany. The high military costs were the price the US paid for its leadership in security issues. There is no objection to Trump asking Germany to increase the financing of its own security. However, this also invalidates any say the US might have in German defense matters. Neither security nor privileges are free. This should be clear to an entrepreneur like Trump, whose home country invented the following wisdom: “There is no such thing as a free lunch”.
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KSK whistleblower to be part of special unit’s reform: The soldier who wrote to German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and complained about widespread right-wing extremist views in the special unit KSK will now be involved in reforming the training within the unit. The whistleblower said this himself in a letter to Defense Secretary Thomas Silberhorn. About two weeks ago, the KSK soldier had written to the defense minister and criticized, among other things, the obedience in training, which had already been „compared to the Waffen SS by command soldiers in training“. The soldier himself was originally supposed to be released from the special unit because of an extramarital affair. Defense Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer has known about issues with the KSK for a long time and is planning to reform the unit. In an interview, she said: “The clear signal is: Whoever names grievances helps to remedy them. Whoever is silent is part of the problem and complicit.”
Trump confirms plan to cut troops in Germany: US President Donald Trump has confirmed plans to withdraw 9,500 American troops from bases in Germany. He accused Germany of being delinquent in its payments to Nato, and said he would stick with the plan unless the German government changed its course. Trump has long complained that European members of Nato should spend more on their own defense rather than relying so heavily on the US to shoulder the costs of maintaining the alliance. Trump also criticized the planned Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea pipeline, which is being built in cooperation with Russia. “Why is Germany paying Russia billions of dollars for energy and then we should protect Germany from Russia? How is that supposed to work? It doesn’t work,“ said Trump. Some of the US soldiers leaving Germany could apparently be sent to Poland. The Polish government supports an increase in its contingent of American soldiers, but stressed that this should not be done as a result of a reduction in the number of troops in Germany.
Turkey blocks Nato’s plans for Eastern Europe: Turkey has named conditions for its participation in Nato’s defense plan for Eastern Europe. The Turkish government wants the Kurdish organizations PYD and YPG to be declared terrorist organizations, among other things, something that is rejected by some Nato members. Nato’s plan, which was adopted in 2015, is a measure to deter Russia. The plan provides for specific alarm times for the Nato Response Force (VJTF). Unanimous approval of all Nato countries is required for the so-called “Graduated Response Plans” to come into force.
North Korea blows up liaison office with South Korea: South Korea has accused North Korea of demolishing an inter-Korean liaison office building just north of the border between the two countries on Tuesday, as tensions continue to escalate on the Korean peninsula. Earlier this month, North Korea threatened to permanently shut the liaison office with South Korea as it condemned its rival for failing to prevent activists from sending anti-North Korean leaflets across the border. North Korea’s military on Tuesday threatened to move back into zones that were demilitarized under inter-Korean peace agreements in 2018. The General Staff of the Korean People’s Army said it was reviewing a ruling party recommendation to advance into unspecified border areas that had been demilitarized under agreements with the South.
Sipri warns of nuclear stockpiling: Although the number of nuclear weapons across the globe dropped by around 3.5% in 2019, the International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) warned of new stockpiling in its annual report. India and China have added to their nuclear warhead stockpile in the last year while all other nuclear-armed nations like the US, Russia and France, continued to modernize their arsenal. „What worries us overall is the growing importance of nuclear weapons,“ said Shannon Kile, director of Sipri’s Nuclear Disarmament, Arms Control, and Nonproliferation Program. Researchers are also concerned that the so-called START contract between Russia and the United States will expire in 2021.
Northern Iraq: Turkey launches air raids against Kurdish fighters independent.co.uk
Civil war: UN shocked by mass graves in Libya theguardian.com
Afghanistan: Deaths after suicide attack in Kabul zeit.de
Himalayas: Twenty Indian soldiers dead after clash with China along disputed border cnn.com
Kosovo: White House announces new talks between Serbia and Kosovo politico.com
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Germany’s budget committee is planning to spend 13 billion euros on the procurement of new goods for the German army.
Study recommends participation in Syria’s reconstruction: In a guest article, the two authors Christin Lüttich and Ferdinand Dürr criticize a study by the Berlin Science and Politics Foundation (SWP) that recommends the German government participate in the reconstruction of Syria. A change of government in Syria is unrealistic, so the West should give up its demands for the Assad government to be replaced, they write. However, the past shows that aid flowing into Syria has been used to commit war crimes. And little seems to have changed despite the Syrian ruler’s recapture of east Aleppo. The people there continue to live in poverty. The SWP study shows the dilemma in which Western governments find themselves on the Syria issue. Furthermore, there is no foreign policy that has human rights in mind. Instead of support from the Syrian government, Liège and Dürr are calling for the stabilization of Kurdish self-government in northern Syria.
Ambivalent relationship between Turkey and Russia: The relationship between Turkey and Russia is shaped by the struggles in Syria and Libya. Although the two heads of state Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan pursue different goals there and support competing groups, the two countries always consult and discuss important issues outside the influence of the United Nations. Neither Russia nor Turkey abide by the UN arms embargo in Libya. For a long time, the Assad regime in Syria could only stand up to the Islamist groups supported by Erdogan thanks to Putin’s support. In contrast, Turkey currently seems to dominate in Libya. There, the official government supported by Erdogan was able to turn the tide against renegade General Khalifa Hifter. Now a meeting of the two powers was supposed to take place in Istanbul, but was apparently canceled due to differences of opinion. It is said that the meeting will be rescheduled. Diplomats from the two countries are already negotiating. The Syrian war is unpopular in Russia, but it plays an important role for Putin. According to the Russian military expert Pavel Felgenhauer, the Russian military presence in Syria ensures access to the Mediterranean.
Islamic State’s comeback? Isis was considered virtually defeated on Syrian soil. Now, the terrorist group seems to be trying to make a comeback. Three government soldiers were killed in an attack last week. Isis is also said to have fought a battle with a Shiite militia. Isis expert Charles Lister calls the group’s approach “slow and methodical”. After the defeat by the military coalition last year, Isis withdrew into the Badia desert, an area from southern Syria to the Euphrates in Iraq. From there, the terrorist group can start individual actions. It benefits in particular from the fact that the Syrian government is currently busy conquering Idlib. The US think tank CGP estimates that Isis makes around three million euros a month from attacks on highways. The coronavirus pandemic also plays into the hands of the group. In Iraq, soldiers have been withdrawn from crisis regions to take on other tasks in the wake of the pandemic. The United States is also increasingly withdrawing from Iraq. The US only wants to operate two bases there. In Syria, US President Donald Trump wants to withdraw all remaining soldiers.
„But what we do need is a common European defense and security policy. But this must be preceded by a common foreign policy, because I think security and defense are consequences of foreign policy.“
Germany’s Former Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel on the security policy relationship between Europe and the United States and its consequences.
Russia opens “Church of Victory”: Russia has inaugurated a huge new cathedral dedicated to its armed forces that had caused controversy over initial plans to decorate its interior with mosaics depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin and Soviet-era leader Joseph Stalin. Russian Orthodox Church officials said last month neither would be depicted in the cathedral. The richly decorated 95-meter high cathedral, dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, was built in less than two years in a theme park about 55 kilometers from Moscow.