Another case of far-right extremism in the German military: A German soldier and two relatives have been arrested on suspicion of illegally hoarding weapons and expressing far-right sympathies, investigators said Monday. The men – two sons and their father – were arrested over the weekend in the central state of Hesse, according to the region’s criminal police office and prosecutors in the city of Hanau. Investigators said they found evidence including firearms, ammunition and explosives in searches of the men’s homes and workplaces. The arrests come at a time of concern about far-right extremism in the German military, or Bundeswehr. Last week, parliament’s commissioner for the military said the number of reported far-right incidents in the Bundeswehr climbed to 477 last year from 363 in 2019. The country’s special forces, the KSK, have faced particular scrutiny after numerous allegations of far-right extremism in recent years. Germany’s defense minister disbanded one of the KSK’s units in July and vowed to to further investigate extremism and implement reforms.
Germany’s special forces look the other way on missing weapons: Already under investigation for far-right sympathies, Germany’s elite commando unit has let its troops return stolen weapons without penalty. Brigadier General Markus Kreitmayr came up with the idea early last year. The head of the KSK, a German special forces unit, told his troops they could return any weapons and munitions they had made off with — anonymously and without fear of consequences. This is seen as a backlash to the embattled Bundeswehr’s reform efforts. It had already become known that a large number of weapons had gone missing. Less clear was whether that was due to an inventory error or if KSK members had intentionally taken them, which would be a criminal offense.
Order for Bundeswehr assault rifles will not go to C.G. Haenel: The Thuringian arms manufacturer C.G. Haenel will not get the contract advertised by the German defense ministry for the delivery of the Bundeswehr’s new assault rifles. In September Haenel had surprisingly secured the order and outdone competitor Heckler & Koch, although Heckler & Koch is a traditional supplier to the German armed forces. Heckler & Koch took action against this on suspicion of patent infringements. The defense ministry now announced that the order for the new assault rifle will not go to C.G. Haenel since the ministry has found evidence of patent infringements.
EU tries for an independent defense policy: At a video summit lasting several days, the EU heads of state and government discussed the future direction of European defense policy. The main focus was on the question of how much independence the alliance of states needs and what role the United States could play in the future as the main ally to date. Once again, fundamental differences between the EU member states were apparent. While the summit’s final declaration agreed that member states want to continue to strengthen the EU’s ability to act autonomously, the differences between Germany and France remained. French President Emmanuel Macron again pleaded for complete independence from the United States, but Germany fears that this could affect the already strained relations between the two powers.
EU ambassadors approve Russia sanctions: EU ambassadors approved sanctions against four senior Russian law enforcement officials over the jailing of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny. Two top UN officials said Russia is to blame for the near-fatal poisoning of the prominent Kremlin critic. The human rights experts said an international investigation should be carried out as a matter of urgency.
Surprise visit: Kramp-Karrenbauer visits troops in Afghanistan tagesschau.de
Aid funds: Yemen donor conference disappoints dw.com
Escalation: Dozens dead in protests against military coup in Myanmar tagesschau.de
Armenia: Prime Minister Pashinyan told to resign dw.com
Ethiopia: Amnesty International uncovers massacre in Tigray zeit.de
Innovation: Impressions from the Bundeswehr’s Cyber Innovation Hub politik-kommunikation.de
NUMBER OF THE WEEK
In 2020, the Bundeswehr registered 213 new patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This means an increase compared to the previous year (183), although the number of foreign assignments is falling.
Left party struggles for peace policy positions at party congress: The German Left party elected a new leadership duo at its digital party congress over the weekend. Janine Wissler, a member of the Hessian state parliament, who is close to the left wing, and Susanne Hennig-Wellsow, the state chairwoman of the party in Thuringia, who is considered a reformer, will lead the party in the next few years. The party congress also dealt with the party’s principles of peace policy. A few weeks ago, Matthias Höhn pleaded for a general willingness to participate in United Nations blue helmet operations – for many party members a departure from the previous principle of not agreeing to any foreign missions by the Bundeswehr.
US launches airstrikes against Iranian-backed militants in Syria: The US launched airstrikes in Syria on Thursday targeting Iranian-backed militia groups in the first known offensive military operation carried out by the Biden administration. The Department of Defense said the strikes are a response to recent rocket attacks against Americans in Iraq, including one in which a civilian contractor working with American forces was killed and several US service members were injured. Officials believe the February 15 attack in Erbil, Iraq, was conducted by Shia militants.
Bad marks for German security policy in Africa: According to a study by political scientist Wolfram Lacher on behalf of the Berlin think tank Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, German and French involvement in the North African crisis regions of Libya and the Sahel is tantamount to a disaster. Even after years of deployment, including the presence of troops on site, the countries of Libya, Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso could slide into chaos at any moment. The German Libya policy is a „disaster“, the operation in Mali „unsuccessful“, says Lacher. In his study, he primarily criticizes the strategic approach of the missions. Germany and France are primarily concerned with waging the war on terror in a publicly effective manner, while sustainable stabilization is a subordinate goal. In addition, the two leading powers of the EU are not doing a good job at coordinating with each other. The Germans are inactive, the French overactive – that’s how Lacher sums up the commitment in Africa.
„With this weapons amnesty at the latest, the point was reached where one had to realize: the KSK can no longer be saved this way.“
Extremism expert, author and filmmaker Dirk Laabs on the underestimated problem of right-wing extremism in German security authorities and the KSK’s inability to reform.
Raid on Leipzig police because of „bicycle gate“: In the scandal of illegally resold bicycles at the Leipzig police, a police field office and several apartments and business premises were raided on Tuesday. 25 investigators from the State Criminal Police Office of Saxony and two public prosecutors from the Public Prosecutor’s Office searched the police offices on behalf of the Dresden District Court. Among other things, three bicycles were seized. The „Fahrrad-Gate“ affair, which attracted mockery nationwide, is about suspicion of theft and embezzlement, forgery of documents, fraud, acceptance of benefits and bribery by the Leipzig police. Employees are said to have resold several seized bicycles over a period of four years.