European human rights court backs Germany over Kunduz airstrike case: German courts and prosecutors thoroughly investigated a 2009 NATO bombing in Afghanistan that killed dozens of civilians, the European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday. The ruling by the Strasbourg-based court rejects a complaint by Afghan citizen Abdul Hanan, who lost two sons in the attack, that Germany did not fulfil its obligation to effectively investigate the incident. The predawn strike took place in September 2009 in Kunduz in northern Afghanistan, killing around 100 people. Two stolen fuel tankers had been sighted around 7 kilometers from a German military base, stuck on a river sandbank. Afghan civilians, including children, had surrounded the tankers with hopes of siphoning some of the fuel. A German commander ordered American jets to destroy the trucks, resulting in a large blast. Although it was initially reported that many of those killed were Taliban fighters, it was later revealed that most of the dead were civilians.
NATO won’t remove troops from Afghanistan before the time is right: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg opened the door Monday to the alliance keeping forces in Afghanistan beyond the May deadline when the US had promised to remove its remaining 2,500 troops from the country. Stoltenberg said Taliban militants in Afghanistan must do more to meet the terms of a 2020 peace agreement with the United States to allow for any possible foreign troop withdrawal by the May deadline. Allied defense ministers will discuss later this week whether the Taliban is making good on the peace deal. „While no ally wants to stay in Afghanistan longer than necessary, we will not leave before the time is right,“ Stoltenberg told a press conference. NATO, he said, needs to „find the right balance between making sure that we do not stay longer than necessary but at the same time that we don’t leave too early.“
AKK and GI present paper for modernizing the German military: German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and General Inspector Eberhard Zorn want to comprehensively modernize the Bundeswehr. In an eight-page position paper, they call for a defense budget that can be reliably planned, a fundamental reorganization of the procurement of equipment and weapons technology and a Federal Armed Forces Planning Act. As in other countries, this places the financing of the armed forces on a solid, multi-year foundation without restricting the parliament’s financial sovereignty. It is a novelty that such a paper was published in peacetime by a defense minister and the inspector general.
Munich Bundeswehr laboratory researches Covid mutants: The new Covid-19 mutations are being studied by the Bundeswehr laboratory in Munich. All important findings that were made in connection with Covid in Germany last year are being examined there. Research into how the British mutation reacts to vaccines will be conducted in the coming weeks. Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer visited the laboratory on Monday to get an idea of the first findings. She emphasized that the Bundeswehr is not only involved in scientific research, but also in civil health care. All new findings are the basis for political decisions. Germany also wants to provide administrative assistance internationally where it is needed.
Biden calls for Congress to pass stricter gun laws: US President Joe Biden on Sunday called on Congress to strengthen gun laws on the third anniversary of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The president called for several provisions including background checks on all gun sales, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and eliminating legal immunity for gun manufacturers. Fourteen students and three staff members were killed in the Parkland shooting. The student survivors started the March for Our lives movement in support of gun control legislation.
Military coup in Myanmar: Myanmar’s military leaders extended their detention of deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi nbcnews.com
Navalny: Kremlin critic Navalny back in Moscow court for slander trial france24.com
Turkey: US condemns PKK attack under pressure from Turkey dw.com
Belarus: Journalists and human rights activists arrested reuters.com
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Turkey has arrested more than 700 people it suspects of links to the Kurdistan Workers‘ Party (PKK), after it accused the group of executing 13 Turkish nationals.
The Influence in Myanmar: At the beginning of February, the military in Myanmar staged a coup. 326 people have already been detained. The tension between protesters and the military is increasing. Citizens are demanding the release of their head of government and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. The great powers China and the US, on the other hand, are currently rolling out their influence. Beijing was an important ally of the military dictatorship until Aung San Suu Kyi was released from prison in 2010 and the country turned to the liberal democracies of the West. For former US President Barack Obama, the country became the most important topic on his Asia agenda: democratization. However, the Rohingya Muslim minority in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar has been persecuted for decades. In 2017, the military systematically persecuted and killed the Rohingya Muslim minority. The United Nations speaks of genocide. After Aung San Suu Kyi defended her country against genocide charges before the International Court of Justice in The Hague in December, Beijing showed Myanmar a concession. In January 2020, the Chinese head of state Xi Jinping paid the neighboring country the first visit in 19 years. Beijing is currently trying to secure a good position for itself in all political scenarios.
tagesschau.de, welt.de, rnd.de, spiegel.de
Trump impeachment trial: Biden warns democracy is fragile: US President Joe Biden has said his predecessor Donald Trump’s acquittal for inciting mob violence is a reminder that „democracy is fragile“. Biden said that while the final vote did not lead to a conviction, the substance of the charge – relating to Trump’s role in the Capitol riot last month – was not in dispute. Biden noted that 57 senators, including seven Republicans, voted to find Trump guilty, following a bipartisan vote by the House of Representatives to impeach the Republican former president. Trump has welcomed his acquittal, calling his impeachment a witch hunt. According to the „New York Times“, at least six people who had provided security for Trump’s former advisor and long-time friend Roger Stone entered the Capitol during the 6 January attack. Videos show the group guarding Stone on the day of the attack or the day before. All six of them are associated with the „Oath Keepers“, a far-right anti-government militia that is known to provide security for right-wing personalities and protesters at public events.
bbc.com, reuters.com (Biden); npr.org (Trump); nytimes.com (Stone)
„The pressure on the Libyans must be kept up.“
Stephanie Williams, the deputy head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) for political affairs, has called on the international community to keep up pressure on possible saboteurs inside and outside the country. She also said the new government team must be set up quickly.
Parler is back online: Parler is back online following several weeks of darkness after the social media site popular with supporters of former president Donald Trump was knocked offline. Parler effectively fell off the internet in January when Amazon refused to provide technical cloud computing support to the site after the tech giant determined Parler was not doing enough to moderate and remove incitements to violence.