Stuttgart desptach International

Path to war in Africa, via Germany

While the world is focussing on Donald Trump’s foreign policy plans in Afghanistan and West Asia, the U.S. is continuing, without much media scrutiny, its proxy wars in Africa. Recently, it became evident that the U.S. military’s newest ally in the region could be the genocidal regime of Omar al-Bashir in Sudan. This is not surprising. In fact, the U.S. has already allied with dozens of dictatorial regimes and militias on the African continent. All of them are part of the ongoing shadow war in the region, including regular air strikes by drones or conventional jets, and secret operations of commando units on the ground.

The heart of U.S. secret wars in Africa lies in Stuttgart, Germany, where AFRICOM (the United States Africa Command) has been based since 2007. The Kelley Barracks in Stuttgart-Moehringen is known as AFRICOM’s command centre with 1,500 personnel, including military and U.S. federal civilian employees. The Kelley Barracks is a huge building complex, including a sports centre, a day nursery, a hotel and a theatre. In 2013, two German media outlets revealed that illegal drone strikes that were taking place in Somalia were coordinated from Stuttgart and that these activities were against German law. In the past, civilians have been murdered by such attacks.

In October 2016, it was reported that AFRICOM was expanding its drone warfare in Africa when military personnel and unmanned aerial vehicles were transferred to a base in Tunisia. In 2016, U.S. drones carried out 14 strikes in Somalia, killing up to 292 people, including five civilians. Libya, another war-torn African country, was bombed by the U.S. 496 times last year. The U.S. has drone bases in Niger and Djibouti as well, while the American shadow wars are being fought in almost 50 African nations.

Most of these operations are planned in and coordinated from Stuttgart, but not many locals seem to be aware of it. “The U.S. soldiers are here for years. It has become something normal for us. I think that many people don’t ask themselves what the soldiers do,” a local, who lives near the Kelley Barracks, said. In total, more than 34,000 U.S. soldiers are deployed in difference places in Germany.

Illegal operations

The German government itself doesn’t appear to be bothered much about AFRICOM’s activities. When it was revealed that illegal drone operations were taking place from German soil, Berlin’s reaction was practically non-existent. Not just the AFRICOM in Stuttgart is involved in these wars but also the Ramstein Air Base in southwestern Germany, which is considered the “heart of U.S. drone warfare”.

“Since three years, the German Foreign Ministry is ignoring media reports about the involvement of the Ramstein Air Base and the AFRICOM in extra-judicial killings that are against international war norms,” Andrej Hunko, a German parliamentarian of the left-wing Die Linke party, said in January. “U.S. activities at both places — Ramstein and Stuttgart — violate German laws and general human rights norms. These drone strikes are simple murder; assisting and supporting them makes the German government an accomplice in murder,” Karim Popal, an Afghan-German lawyer who represents NATO airstrike victims from Afghanistan, told this writer.

But the German government prefers to stay silent. In fact, it was Germany’s political elite who offered to host AFRICOM when the U.S. was looking for a new place while other European states rejected its request. Berlin just had one plea when the Americans opened the gates of their new commando centre – to do it quietly.


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Printable version | Sep 22, 2021 7:36:05 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/path-to-war-in-africa-via-germany/article19566862.ece

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