Sharply criticizing NATO war games in Eastern Europe, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told Bild am Sonntag newspaper that inflaming the standoff with Russia would endanger European security and increase risk of reviving an “old confrontation.”
The ongoing large-scale Anakonda-16 NATO military maneuvers in Poland, simulating the repulsion of “Russian aggression” against the country, are counterproductive, Deutsche Welle cited German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier as telling Bild am Sonntag newspaper, in an interview to be published Sunday.
“Whoever believes that a symbolic tank parade on the alliance’s eastern border will bring security is mistaken,” Steinmeier said ahead of the upcoming NATO summit in Warsaw beginning July 8. “We are well-advised to not create pretexts to renew an old confrontation,” he emphasized.
Rather than inflaming the situation further “through saber-rattling and warmongering,” there ought to be more space for dialogue and cooperation with Moscow, Steinmeier said.
It would be “fatal to now narrow the focus to the military, and seek a remedy solely through a policy of deterrence,” German FM said, calling to give way to diplomacy instead of military posturing.
Calling for dialogue and a diplomatic approach, Steinmeier also mentioned the necessity of maintaining military preparedness of NATO.
The alliance should also consider the possibility to “renew discussions about the benefits of disarmament and arms control for security in Europe,” he said.
The Anaconda drills have become NATO’s largest exercise in Europe since the Cold War, bringing to Poland over 31,000 troops from 24 NATO member states and “partner nations,” including the US, the UK, Germany, Canada, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and others.
Moscow has once again pointed out that augmentation of NATO military presence in Eastern Europe and Baltics is unjustified, stressing that Russia has no plans whatsoever to interfere with any country in the region.
“I am convinced that every serious and honest politician is well aware that Russia will never invade any NATO member. We have no such plans,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated.
The NATO summit in Warsaw is set to put “Russian threat” issue high on the agenda, as the gathering will be making the final decision on stationing additional NATO troops in Eastern Europe.
More NATO troops deployed to Poland will be sending “a clear signal that an attack on Poland will be considered an attack on the whole Alliance,” the bloc’s Secretary General told reporters following his meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda in early June.
The statements made by NATO leadership put Russian diplomats in a position where they have to deny the obvious.
“During the NATO secretary general’s recent visit to Poland, officials in this country [Poland] made statements suggesting that from now on Russia would know that any attack on Poland would mean an attack on NATO as a whole. This is completely absurd because they are discussing a non-existent problem. There are no plans for any attacks on Poland,” Russian envoy to NATO Aleksandr Grushko said in an interview with TV channel Russia-24.
Speaking at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) on Friday, President Vladimir Putin said that NATO has “an absolutely slapdash attitude to our position on anything,” adding that it was the US that had unilaterally quit the missile defense treaty, which was initially signed to “provide strategic balance in the world.”
NATO “needs a foreign enemy, otherwise what would be the reason for the existence of such an organization,” said the Russian leader. The conflict in Ukraine, caused by a bloody coup supported by the US and its European NATO allies, was forced on that country “to substantiate the very existence of the North Atlantic alliance,” the Russian president concluded.
Putin assured his audience that he does not want to proceed to a new Cold War, as “no one wants it.”“However dramatic the logic of the development of international relations might seem on the outside, it’s not the logic of global confrontation,” he explained.
The world is waiting with baited breath for 23 June. This is the day when a referendum in Great Britain will decide the question of its membership in the European Union. If the country remains a member of the EU, then the process of financial and economic entropy will continue and a global crisis will be postponed to a much later date. If Britain votes to leave the EU, however, then this could disturb the delicate international equilibrium and the referendum could become the trigger that immediately sparks a global crisis. If it happens, Brexit could prompt the collapse of the world’s post-war political, economic and financial architecture.
Experts believe that the main threat posed by Britain’s withdrawal from the EU is the collapse of the European Union itself. But not even the most intrepid daredevils are prepared to calculate the global political, economic and financial consequences of the European Union’s collapse. For several years now, the European Union has been at death’s door and it all started with the 2007-2009 financial crisis. While the US and many other countries managed to drag themselves out of the crisis (for a while at least), it became a chronic disease for the countries of the EU and is now being called a ‘debt crisis’.
The depth of this crisis varies widely from country to country. According to the IMF, the relative level of public debt in 2015 (% of GDP) was: Greece – 178; Italy – 124; Portugal – 124; France – 95; and Spain – 94. The external debt picture for EU countries is even more impressive (% of GDP, 2014): Great Britain – 322; France – 236; Greece – 234; Germany – 159; Italy – 144; and Spain – 136. As can be seen, even Greece, which everyone has gotten used to considering the most inveterate debtor in the European Union, comes second to Britain and France in terms of the relative size of its external debt.
It is still Greece that is considered the weakest link in the European alliance, however. Calls have begun to be heard both within Greece and beyond its borders for the country’s withdrawal first from the eurozone and then from the European Union. Events like the crisis in Ukraine, the economic sanctions against Russia, talks with Washington on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, and the mass migration of refugees have started to split ‘United Europe’ apart and it has divided into Euro-optimists and Eurosceptics.
The former advocate for the preservation of the European Union and even for the further deepening of integration, the dismantling of the remnants of state sovereignty, and the accession of new members. The latter stand for the restoration of individual governments’ lost sovereignty either through radical reform of the EU or its dismantling (or the country’s withdrawal from the EU). Britain’s Eurosceptics are now being looked at with hope by like-minded people in other countries of old Europe. In 2017, general parliamentary elections will be held in Germany, France and also the Netherlands, where Eurosceptics are gaining momentum. A vote by Britain in favour of leaving the European Union will cause a chain reaction of similar initiatives in a number of other countries.
At present, the media are regularly publishing opinion poll findings that reveal what the Brits think of the European Union. It is interesting that at the beginning of the year, the number of those in support of Britain staying in the EU was noticeably higher than those in favour of leaving, in April and May the gap began to narrow and now, at the beginning of June, those in support of leaving have started to outnumber those who wish to stay. Despite a split in the British government on the Brexit issue, it is still strongly influenced by Prime Minister David Cameron who, as is well known, is an ardent supporter of the country retaining its EU membership. The effect of the ‘Cameron factor’ on British public sentiment began to weaken in June, however.
Brexit was one of the key issues at the annual Bilderberg Group meeting held on 9-12 June in Dresden. According to unofficial data, the meeting’s participants (130 people from 20 countries) were extremely concerned about the outcome of the forthcoming referendum, and the heads of major corporations and banks taking part in the discussion have committed themselves to doing everything possible to stop those in favour of Britain leaving the EU from winning the referendum.
In the meantime, scepticism about the EU has also increased noticeably in a number of other European countries. On 8 June, the results of a poll conducted in ten EU countries by the Pew Research Center, a US think tank, were made public. They show that even in Germany, only 50 percent of those surveyed have a favourable view of the EU. Last year, the EU had the trust of 58 percent of Germans. And if a referendum on EU membership were to be held in other countries right now, they would probably choose to leave the Union. The results of the survey also show that the level of trust in the EU has fallen over the last year in France from 55 to 38 percent. And there is no point even talking about Greece, where scepticism about the EU had already begun to dominate last year. Today, just 27 percent of Greeks are in favour of EU membership. The European Union only enjoys a higher reputation in the countries that are more recent EU members, for example in Poland (72 percent) and Hungary (61 percent).
Significantly, even many of those in Europe who are currently in favour of remaining a member of the EU are dissatisfied with Brussels’ policies. This concerns the EU’s economic, monetary and financial policies and, over the last year, its migration policy as well. The fewest people unhappy with the policies being carried out by Brussels were in Germany (38 percent), but the percentages in other EU countries are as follows: France – 66, Italy – 68, and Greece – 92. In addition, 67 percent of Germans, 77 percent of Italians, 88 percent of Swedes and 94 percent of Greeks expressed their dissatisfaction at Brussels’ migration policy. And many of those who disapprove or are dissatisfied could soon join those in favour of their country leaving the European Union. This will be inevitable if those voting for Brexit secure a victory in the referendum on 23 June.
It seems that European Parliament President Martin Schultz can be regarded as a Eurosceptic now as well. In an interview last month, Schultz admitted that, «the European Union is in a dismal state».
Whatever the outcome of the vote in the British Isles, the Eurosceptics in Germany, France and the Netherlands, who are expecting to improve their position in the 2017 elections, are determined to achieve similar referendums in their own countries.
A court in Hamburg has issued a preliminary injunction banning 18 of the 24 verses in a German comedian’s satirical poem lampooning Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for being “abusive and defaming.”
The court order issued on Tuesday applies to the whole of Germany, Reuters reported.
“Through the poem’s reference to racist prejudice and religious slander as well as sexual habits, the verses in question go beyond what the petitioner [Erdogan] can be expected to tolerate,” the Hamburg court wrote.
The court said the decision was necessary to balance the right to artistic freedom and the personal rights of Turkey’s leader, but added that its ruling could be appealed.
Violating the decision could result in a fine of up to 250,000 euros ($282,000) or administrative detention of up to six months, Germany’s Spiegel Online reported.
Erdogan’s lawyer said he was content with the ruling, RIA Novosti reported, while the comedian’s defender stressed that the poem must be considered as a whole, claiming its verses had been taken out of context.
The poem, which was recited on German television by comedian Jan Boehmermann in late March, has become a bone of contention for Chancellor Angela Merkel, as well as European audiences and the media.
After Erdogan demanded that German authorities press charges against the comedian for allegedly insulting him as Turkish President, Merkel allowed her prosecutors to pursue the case against Boehmermann.
A separate complaint being dealt with in the western German city of Mainz is still being processed, with prosecutors saying it is as yet unclear when a decision is to be made on whether to go ahead with the case, according to Reuters.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting today that NATO is preparing to deploy four battalions — approximately 4,000 troops — to Russia’s western border. US Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work was in Brussels today to announce the Western military escalation on Russia’s border, which he claimed was in response to Russian military exercises near the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
According to Deputy Secretary of Defense Work, two of the battalions would come from the United States, with one each coming from the UK and Germany. This announcement might come as news to German lawmakers, as such a significant German military presence on Russia’s borders has not been approved by Berlin. Although German Chancellor Angela Merkel has given Washington reason to believe that Germany would join the escalation, the move is considered highly controversial in a Germany growing weary of following US foreign policy dictates. In fact, according to recent polling, only one in three Germans supports the idea of the German military defending the Baltics even if there were a Russian attack. A clear majority of Germans oppose NATO military bases on Russia’s border.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the UK government has not agreed to send the troops either, despite the claims of unnamed “Western officials.”
The US deputy secretary of defense explained in Brussels that the US must send these thousands of troops thousands of miles from the US because Russia is conducting military exercises on its own soil and the US finds that intolerable.
Said Deputy Secretary Work:
The Russians have been doing a lot of snap exercises right up against the borders, with a lot of troops. From our perspective, we could argue this is extraordinarily provocative behavior.
What is not made clear in the article but should not be lost on readers is that “right up against the borders” is still Russian territory. But “right up against the borders” on the other side — where the US military is to be deployed and to conduct exercises — is most definitely not US territory. In other words, the US is traveling thousands of miles to place its troops on Russia’s border in response to Russian troops inside its border.
Here is Washington logic: Russian military exercises inside Russia are “extraordinarily provocative” but somehow stationing thousands of US troops on the border with Russia is not at all provocative. Just like US military exercises in the Baltic sea some 50 miles from Russian soil is not at all provocative, but Russian military plane fly-overs in response to these US military exercises is “reckless and provocative.” And just like the US flying a spy plane over highly-secret Russian military facilities on the Kamchatka peninsula is not at all provocative, but when the spy plane is buzzed by another Russian fighter, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter warns, “This is unprofessional. This is dangerous. This could lead somewhere.”
It’s never provocative when Washington’s interventionists do it.
In their book “Network of Death”, three German journalists revealed illegal arms supplies from Germany to Mexico. However, instead of being praised for their efforts, all three of them may face a court trial on alleged breach of the German Press Act and disclosure of secret information.
The book written by German journalists Daniel Harrich, Danuta Harrich-Sandberg und Jürgen Grässlin revealed illegal arms supplies by German company Heckler & Koch to Mexico. It turned out that the weapons — G36 assault rifles made by the firm — appeared in the Mexican states of Guerrero and Chihuahua, although the supplies to these states were prohibited by German authorities.
In 2005, the German regulatory agency allowed the delivery of 9,000 assault rifles to Mexico between 2006 and 2009 on the condition that they won’t be available in the Mexican states of Guerrero, Jalisco, Chiapas and Chihuahua.
However, it recently became known that the arms not only leaked to these territories, but were also allegedly used during the assault on Ayotzinapa students on September 26, where six people were killed, 25 injured and 43 disappeared.
In their book, journalists not only revealed the fact that the German company illegally delivered G36 assault rifles to Mexico, but also accused German authorities of negligence and complicity in the deal.
“In our latest book, […] we’ve published highly sensitive documents as proof for our assumptions that not only Heckler & Koch is responsible for this, but also the Federal Office on Export and the Federal Ministry of Economics,” Grässlin said in an interview with Sputnik.
According to the journalist, both authorities made the deliveries to Mexico possible, although the German Foreign Ministry had initially prohibited the supply of weapons to the country. In 2010, Grässlin filed an application with a request to start an investigation into the case, but as a result only employees of the company, and none of the authorities were prosecuted.
“The Stuttgart public prosecution office still refuses to prosecute those in the Federal Ministry of Economics and the Federal Export Office responsible and co-responsible for it, and this is a scandal,” Grässlin said.
Instead, surprisingly, the Munich public prosecution office is currently considering an option to prosecute journalists themselves.
Under paragraph 353d of the Criminal Code, the journalists might be charged with “violation of professional and special secrecy”. The law prohibits disclosing messages, documents or any other information from a criminal case. The violation is punishable with a fine or imprisonment of up to one year.
NATO is looking at a number of strategies to boost its presence in Eastern Europe, including sending German troops to Lithuania, according to German media citing a Defense Ministry spokesman.
“There are various models under preliminary discussions and voting in NATO is underway,” the ministry’s spokesman Jens Flosdorff told the DPA news agency. “Decisions will be made this fall at the NATO summit in Warsaw.”
The remark confirmed Thursday’s reports that the country’s military was ready for a broader engagement to protect NATO’s eastern frontiers. The military alliance is to meet in the Polish capital Warsaw in July. The 28 member states are expected to agree on a roadmap to enhance combat readiness in Eastern Europe amid what NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has described as a challenging regional security situation.
Der Spiegel reports that German armed forces may send some 1,000 soldiers to take part in the NATO mission in Lithuania if the alliance’s members approve the plan.
In March, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said he hoped Germany would support the need to increase NATO’s military presence in the Baltic States. He urged NATO not to rush to get back to normal dialogue with Russia as long as Moscow does not change its “aggressive policy.” NATO suspended all military cooperation with Moscow in the aftermath of Crimea’s accession to Russia.
According to Linkevicius’ comments made for the American newspaper Politico, a true partnership between Russia and NATO can only be restored if Moscow takes steps to withdraw its troops from Ukraine and ceases to carry out military exercises and military aircraft flights in the Baltic Sea.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov singled out Lithuania as the “most aggressive, Russo-phobic country” within NATO, adding it is pushing the alliance in an “anti-Russian direction.”
“After they [the Baltic nations] became free – the way they perceive it – and independent, after they proclaimed all the decisions concerning their sovereignty, they began to strive for NATO membership,” Lavrov said in an interview published Friday in the Swedish Dagens Nyheter newspaper.
“Moscow didn’t make a single attempt to pull them back, to say nothing of using force against them […] they were admitted to NATO but failed to develop any kind of tranquility and this particularly concerns Lithuania. It now makes up the most aggressive and Russo-phobic kernel within NATO,” he said.
Anti-Russian rhetoric, however, does not sit well with citizens of NATO member-states. As a recent Pew Research Center poll revealed, majorities in such NATO states as Germany (56 percent), Italy (51 percent) and France (53 percent) oppose the idea of protecting the Baltic States from a “military threat” allegedly posed by Russia. According to the poll, some 58 percent of Germans surveyed do not deem Russia a threat to their country, with 49 percent firmly against the idea of permanent deployment of NATO forces in Poland or any of the Baltic States.
Last week, permanent envoys from Russia and NATO member states met for the first time in two years. The meeting failed to yield any significant results due to “profound and persistent disagreements” on a number of geopolitical issues.
NATO has been increasing its military presence in Eastern Europe and the Black Sea since the Ukrainian crisis began in 2014, in response to what it considers Russia’s aggression. Moscow has repeatedly dismissed accusations related to Ukraine, at the same time stressing that increased NATO activities near Russian borders could undermine both regional and global stability.
21st Century Wire | April 27, 2016
All of the recent, worrying attacks on free speech in Germany are starting to make sense.
It has just been announced that the German Air Force is set to start work on a $65 million project to establish a new military air base at Turkey’s Incirlik air base. It is set to be finished by Summer 2017.
RT reports that the project is looking to build accommodation for the permanent deployment of around 400 German soldiers, a fully equipped command and control post and facilities for a full wing of Tornado fighter-jets and an Airbus tanker.
In the weeks before this announcement, Germany began using a very obscure and rarely used law that apparently prevents citizens from criticising foreign heads of state to begin prosecuting a German comedian that had mocked Turkish President Erdogan.
German Chancellor Merkel took much criticism for allowing the prosecution to go ahead, but now we can see why Merkel was doing everything possible to appease the Turkish President.
It is definitely possible that Erdogan threatened to stop the proposed development of the German air base in Turkey unless Merkel stamped on his critics.
Erdogan has many reasons to fear criticism, primarily because the vast majority of it is absolutely justified. Turkey has been documented to be working with ISIS to smuggle oil out of Syria, and the Turkish government has just faced protests for suggesting a religious constitution should be enacted.
The economic situation is also taking a turn for the worst in Erdogan’s Turkey, as tourism to the nation has dropped a massive 40% due to the government’s reckless actions.
The fact that what is clearly free speech has been so openly trampled upon, to further the development of military progress, suggests that supposed Western priorities with peace and democracy are far from sincere.
The American Jewish Committee (AJC) has accused the Berlin-based theater project, Refugee Club Impulse (RCI) of harboring anti-Israel Lebanese Islamic resistance and political party Hizbullah agents.
The Jewish lobby has accused Nadia Grossmann (Jewish), artistic director of RCI and her sister Maryam, a pedagogical director at RCI of organizing the annual pro-Hizbullah and pro-Iran Al-Quds Day.
Iran’s Imam Khomeini declared the last Friday of the month of Muslim fasting as Al-Quds Day in 1981 in support of the Palestinian struggle to regain their land stolen by European Zionist Jews in 1948.
“The RCI is expected to receive 100,000 euros from Berlin government for refugee work. German taxpayers [funds] have been furnished to the RCI for number of years,” said Benjamin Weinthal, The Jerusalem Post, April 20,2016.
Pity! Weinthal’s Zionist entity received only $93 billion from German taxpayers since 1950s.
Nadia and Miryams’ father Jurgen Grossmann told the press that his daughters were not co-organizers of the International Al-Quds Day, but that they along with their father support Palestinian cause.
Volker Beck, a Green Party member in the Bundestag (parliament) and former spokesperson of LGBT Germany, and Benedikt Lux, member of the Berlin City Senate have raised their concerns over “the danger of giving taxpayers’ money to RCI that supports antisemitic forces.”
On March 16, 2016, Barack Obama’s Czar to monitor so-called anti-Semitism around the world, Ira Forman (a Zionist Jew) delivered a speech in Berlin in which he warned Europeans that they risk turning their continent into a breeding ground for the vilest form of Jew hatred.
I suppose, this idiot like Netanyahu too believes that the Mufti of Palestine ordered Adolf Hitler to burn 6 million Jews.
During a rally supporting comedian Jan Boehmermann, Bruno Kramm, the head of the Berlin branch of Germany’s Pirate Party, was arrested for “insulting a representative of a foreign state” by quoting a line from the comic’s satirical poem slamming Erdogan.
German police arrested Kramm while he was conducting a “literary analysis” of the German comedian’s satirical poem in front of the Turkish embassy in Berlin during a protest held under the slogan “No Power for Erdowahn, Freedom Instead of Erdogan” [Keine Macht dem Erdowahn, Freiheit statt Erdogan], the Morgenpost newspaper reported.
The politician cited a couple of lines from the now-infamous piece that landed Boehmermann in hot water, namely, “Kicking Kurds, beating Christians,” which refer to the Turkish authorities’ reported crackdown on minorities.
Kramm was approached by several police officers as he was reciting the lines and taken into custody. The police dispersed the gathering shortly thereafter.
One of the activists, Franz-Josef Schmitt, posted a photo of a police van, saying that nobody is allowed to visit Kramm.
According to the newspaper, police have accused Kramm of violating a rarely used section of the German criminal code, namely section 103, that prohibits insulting “organs and representatives of foreign states.”
“When people slightly criticize the government in Turkey, they are persecuted, beaten or disappear. In contrast to this, the dictator Erdogan is allowed to significantly restrict the right of assembly and the freedom of expression in Germany merely for a statement, that he beats Kurds and Christians,” Kramm had written in a statement published on the German Pirate Party’s official website.
“Who makes such people agents of inhumane refugee policy, should not be surprised when fundamental rights disappear also in Europe,” he added, referring to the heavily criticized EU-Turkey migrant deal recently praised by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The police had reportedly sanctioned the rally on condition that the activists would not quote any lines from Boehmermann’s poem, because “it may constitute a criminal offense of defamation,” said police spokesman Stefan Redlich, as cited by Morgenpost.
Ahead of the rally, Schmitt wrote that “police have explicitly banned us from performing critical dialectical analysis of the Boehmermann’s poem…otherwise they will bring criminal charges and remove a microphone.”
The party says it has been staging weekly demonstrations in front of the Turkish embassy on Fridays to protest the “systemic terror of censorship, oppression, despotism and killings of the dictator Erdogan.”
Earlier on Friday, Merkel admitted that it had been a mistake to express her personal opinion of the German comedian’s poem, which she condemned for being “deliberately insulting.”
“In hindsight, that was an error,” Merkel said in Berlin on Friday, adding that she feared that her comments might be taken to mean that “freedom of opinion is not important, that freedom of the press is not important.”
However, she didn’t backtrack on authorizing the prosecution of the disrespectful comedian under section 103, despite the public outcry.
“I believe [allowing the investigation] to be correct, same as before,” she stressed, as cited by DW.
Boehmermann suspended his show last week after Merkel heeded Turkish President Erdogan’s calls to begin the proceedings.
German intelligence agencies and police have granted asylum to roughly 1,000 refugees in exchange for sensitive information, often by means of “intervention” in the decisions of the national immigration authority, the government has said.
Intelligence services and the federal police have granted asylum to almost 1,000 migrants over the past 15 years, the government’s official response to a parliamentary request for information said. According to the paper, between 1958 and 2013 Germany’s main intelligence agency, the BND, operated a so-called Main Questioning Facility (HBW) which was in charge of collecting specific intelligence from migrants entering the country.
Many “questioning” sessions involved US officers from the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA), though respondents were not aware of the officials’ real identities. Other German agencies such as the federal police, customs service and regional domestic intelligence authorities were also said to have access to recruiting their own informants among migrants.
The HBW would then ask the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) to grant asylum to each migrant deemed suitable to become a BND source. Such requests, described in the paper as “interventions,” were justified by the claim that the migrants would face imminent death or torture if forced to return to their countries of origin.
Most informants came from the Middle East – with the peak figures in 2001-2002 after 9/11 – followed by nationals of post-Soviet countries, Africa, Asia and the Balkans, the document says. Notably, the immigration service rejected two asylum “interventions” in 2002, even after those informants had been recruited by the BND.
The BND’s “questioning facility” allegedly maintained close contact with both the DIA and NSA, allowing them to access intelligence collected from migrants. In several cases, the intelligence was used to identify targets for US drone strikes in the Middle East and Africa. The government document described the information as extremely valuable for military use.
But Martina Renner, an MP from Die Linke party who co-authored the request for information, told Die Zeit newspaper that “the quality of information obtained could be very questionable.” She argued that refugees – keen to get permission for their stay in Germany – would say anything they believed their questioners wanted to hear.
One of the most dramatic examples, Renner said, was the DIA agent codenamed “Curveball” (real name Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi), who initially defected from Iraq to Germany in 1999.
His fake testimonies about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction program were used by the US as a rationale to invade Iraq in 2003, despite both the BND and British MI6 questioning the authenticity of the claims.
Although the BND’s questioning facility was officially closed in 2013, the recruitment of agents from among migrants did not stop. Germany’s domestic intelligence, the Federal Service for the Protection of the Constitution, contacts asylum seekers on a “case-by-case” basis, while the BND still monitors refugee hostels to look for prospective informants, Die Zeit reported.
The Bundesbank has announced plans to repatriate some of Germany’s gold reserves from abroad. At least half of the country’s gold would be transferred to Frankfurt by 2020, according to Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann.
Weidmann says 366 tons of gold worth €11.5 billion have been delivered to Frankfurt so far. “There are now about 1,400 tons or 41.5 percent of our gold reserves here,” the banker said.
In October last year Germany’s gold reserves stood to around 3,384 tonnes, worth about €120 billion, which is the second largest in the world after the US.
Weidmann added the rest of the gold will remain in New York and London, which he says are as safe as Germany. In case of emergency, these reserves would quickly be converted on the markets in these cities, the banker said.
The Bundesbank has been criticized at home for keeping a major part of Germany’s gold reserves abroad. Critics are demanding the complete return of the gold to the country. They regard the gold as insurance if a crisis comes, and the immediate physical availability would be the decisive criterion.
When trying to move gold from New York in 2014, the Bundesbank met obstacles from US authorities when officials tried to inspect the German gold kept in US vaults.
“I’m no conspiracy theorist, but the Bundesbank should be able to audit the gold once a year like it does with reserves in Frankfurt,” Hans Olaf Henkel, a German member of the European Parliament, told RT.
Some even doubted the German gold is still physically there.
“We are still missing … published lists of gold bar number, even though the US Federal reserve publishes this list for their own gold,” said Peter Boehringer, founder of the Repatriate our Gold Campaign.
According to disclosed data, the German government has approved several deals for the export of arms to countries in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia as the kingdom continues its deadly aggression against the impoverished nation of Yemen.
According to an Economy Ministry letter seen by Reuters on Monday, the EU powerhouse will deliver 23 Airbus military helicopters to Riyadh.
In the letter to lawmakers in the economy committee of the lower house of the parliament, Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel explained that the government’s Federal Security Council had also approved a deal by Heckler & Koch to deliver 130 machine pistols and automatic rifles to the United Arab Emirates and allowed Rheinmetall to export 65,000 mortar cartridges to the country.
The United Arab Emirates is among Saudi Arabia’s allies in their invasion against Yemen.
It also gave the green light for Heckler & Koch’s delivery of 660 machine guns, 660 additional gun barrels and 550 sub-machine guns to Oman.
The government also approved the delivery of five military helicopters by Airbus to Thailand and the export of nearly 490 machine pistols and automatic rifles by Heckler & Koch to Indonesia.
In January, Gabriel had said Germany may look harder at its arms exports to Saudi Arabia after the Persian Gulf kingdom carried out a mass execution causing international outcry.
Saudi Arabia is also widely believed to be financing to Takfiri militants wreaking havoc in the Middle East.
Riyadh has also been engaged in military operations in Yemen since late March last year. At least 8,400 people, among them 2,236 children, have been killed so far in the aggression and 16,015 others sustained injuries. Tens of Saudi solders as well as mercenary forces have been killed in the aggression.