Category: Israel
Ramstein Air Base anti-drone protests: The Germans taking on the US military
| September 10, 2017 | 9:04 pm | Germany, Israel, Struggle for Peace | No comments

http://www.dw.com/en/ramstein-air-base-anti-drone-protests-the-germans-taking-on-the-us-military/a-40432117

Ramstein Air Base anti-drone protests: The Germans taking on the US military

A week of protests against the US drone program drew some 5,000 protesters to its most important air base in Europe. DW’s Kathleen Schuster met with several of the people taking on the world’s most powerful military.

Protests at the Ramstein US army base in Germany (picture-alliance/Sputnik/V. Melnikov) “To be or NATO be”: Protesters hoped to capture the attention of the transatlantic military alliance and the German government

DW recommends

A guide to military drones

Every military specialist agrees that Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or drones, are the future of warfare – but what are the major types of drone and who makes them? DW explains. (30.06.2017)

What Germany’s first armed drones could do

The German army wants to lease Israeli-made armed drones. The move would make the Bundeswehr the 12th country in the world to have weaponized drone capabilities. (21.06.2017)

Berlin powerless to challenge US drone operations at Ramstein air base

The US Air Force base at Ramstein is reportedly a hub for coordinating Washington’s global drone war. Although the revelation has stirred controversy in Germany, Berlin has little political leeway to challenge the US. (05.04.2014)

At first it’s difficult to reconcile the week’s itinerary at the “peace camp” — yoga, reggae, poetry slam – with the gray-haired audience gathered in this dusky room.

Taking up every seat and windowsill, the crowd of at least 150 listens intently as each speaker outlines how the US government is leading an ‘illegal war” in their backyard. The city is Kaiserslautern, the Air Force base in question is Ramstein and the war is that waged by US’s drone operations, which they say violate German law.

“Our government must review and prohibit the drone war,” Otto Jaeckel tells the crowd to loud applause. He called on German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen to take action: “Ms. Merkel and Ms. von der Leyen bear personal responsibility here!”

Under the banner of “Stop Ramstein Air Base,” a nationwide campaign has drawn peace activists from across Germany and other countries to Kaiserslautern, calling for the base to be shut down.

The audience of protesters comprises mainly of the over-50 crowd, however. The ethics of using drones are the draw for these activists, but for the local organizers, the problem with Ramstein Air Force Base runs deep. To them, drones are just one symptom of a larger problem they’ve been warning about for years.

Read also: A guide to military drones

Silent partner in a silent war

Already controversial for its extrajudicial killing of several thousand suspects on foreign soil, revelations that Ramstein played a vital role in the US’s drone program sparked a frenzy among German politicians and peace activists in 2013.

Upon parliamentary inquiry, the German government said it had no information about the program. Only later did Angela Merkel’s government confirm that no drones were being directed or flown from US’s most important air base in Europe – which is, incidentally, also the headquarters for NATO’s Air and Space program (AIRCOM).

Ramstein does, however, house satellite relay stations, which whistleblower Brandon Bryant, along with subsequent media reports, allege are key to drone operations. According to these revelations, the signal sent from drone operators on Creech Air Force Base in Nevada travel via transatlantic fiber optic cables to Ramstein, where they are then transmitted to satellites positioned above the Indian Ocean — thus allowing them to strike targets in Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia by way of drones.

The founding principles of post-war Germany were “never again war, never again fascism,” Konnie Schmidt told DW.

“It’s not only the right, but the duty of every German” to rebel against a government violating these principles. “That’s our inheritance.”

Read also: Berlin powerless to challenge US drone ops at Ramstein air base

In 1983, Germany's then-capital, Bonn, saw massive demonstrations against the atomic weapons held on US bases in Germany (picture-alliance/dpa/H. Wieseler) In 1983, Germany’s then-capital, Bonn, saw massive protests against the atomic weapons held on US bases in Germany

‘Living on a powderkeg’

Schmidt, like many of the peace activists of his generation, marched against the Vietnam War. Revelations during the 1980s of atomic bombs, Pershing-2 ballistic missiles and the storage of poisonous gas at nearby US bases unleashed another wave of peace protests still well-known in Germany today.

The native Ramsteiner, now a retired teacher at 69, shares a similar story to other local activists of how he became aware of the US military presence near Kaiserslautern.

“I’ll put it this way: my mother was very conservative and so was my father. And my mother always said, if things heat up, we’re the ones sitting on the powder keg.”

Ramstein airshow catastrophe in 1988 (picture-alliance/dpa/Füger) Ramstein airshow disaster in 1988 claimed 70 lives

For Erika Christmann, 73, the key moment was in August 1988. Almost 30 years later, she like most locals still shudders at the mention of the air show disaster.

Billed by critics at the time as a display of militarism, the spectacle turned deadly when three Italian fighter jets collided while trying to perform a stunt. The collision left 70 people dead and more than 1,000 injured.

“It’s difficult to talk about,” she says, taking a long pause, her rainbow necklace expanding and slowly relaxing around her neck. It’s hope that people are waking up and deep anger about what people do to each other in the name of security that keep her going.

US Air Base Ramstein (Getty Images/AFP/J.-C. Verhaegen) Activists take issue with the existence of the base and the activities carried out there – and thus want it shut down

US ‘protector image’ in question

Indeed, the man credited the most often in local peace activities is Wolfgang Jung, 79. The vivid memories of a childhood shattered by WWII have left the 79-year-old impatient with the military’s agenda.

Along with his wife, the native Ramsteiner documents information about the controversial military base on his own website, Luftpost.de. The log has annoyed many politicians, he says gruffly, then letting a rare smile escape.

The air base scares him for a number of reasons. Although he sued the German government for allowing the US to use Ramstein in its drone operations  a suit he ultimately lost because he personally was not affected by the drones, three different courts ruled — he considers Ramstein’s function as the headquarters of NATO missile defense more dangerous.

He still has hope of informing the public that a continued US military presence doesn’t protect Germany. On the contrary, it puts Germany in the middle of any missile scenario. “They could be dead within five minutes.”

Protests in Ramstein (picture-alliance/V.Melnikov) This was the second year in a row that the Ramstein protest drew thousands

Withdrawal unlikely

Even after years of protest, Jung, like Schmidt and Christmann, consider a US withdrawal unlikely.

The area counts roughly 22,000 military and Department of Defense personnel in total. With family members, it’s 54,000, the largest concentration of US citizens outside of the US.

Local residents and officials see an economic benefit to hosting American troops. Not only do 7,000 German civilians work for the US military, but the housing sector alone brings in an estimated 220 million euros annually, according to a German parliamentary report about Ramstein’s effect on the local economy.

State officials do not have data on how much the military community contributes to the economy annually. However, the 86th Comptroller Squadron in its 2013 Fiscal Report put the number at $2.26 billion (€1.87 billion), according to the same parliamentary report. Other estimates, for example by the Handelsblatt in 2016, have put the number as low at $1 billion.

Nevertheless, the three have no intention of giving up their decades-long fight. This time it’s a call on the German government to prohibit the drone program.

Or as Jung put it: “I’d like to make the most of the few years I have left and not suddenly sink into an atomic crater, you know?”

Cyprus Issue: The KKE warns about the dangerous partition “solution” that is being promoted

Friday, July 14, 2017

Cyprus Issue: The KKE warns about the dangerous partition “solution” that is being promoted

https://communismgr.blogspot.com/2017/07/cyprus-issue-kke-warns-about-dangerous.html
Source: inter.kke.gr.
On July 11, 2017 a discussion of the leaders of the political parties was held in the Greek parliament regarding the developments in the Cyprus issue and the outcome of the negotiations in Geneva.
During the discussion, Dimitris Koutsoumbas, GS of the CC of KKE, underlined that the Cyprus issue is an international problem of invasion and occupation of the northern part of Cyprus by Turkey. It is a problem that bears the stamp of NATO intervention, of the general imperialist plans for the region.
He reminded that the KKE combatively opposed the partitionist “Anan” plan, that was neither just nor viable and would engage the peoples of Cyprus, Greece and Turkey in new adventures.
He highlighted that in the recent period, the “solution” being “cooked” under the pretext of “Bicommunal Bizonal Federation” is a partition of Cyprus; it is a partitionist and dangerous solution, and he went on adding: “We fear that this is the objective of the various propositions elaborated by the staffs of USA, Great Britain, and also of the United Nations, with the co-responsibility of the Cypriot and the Greek government, such as for example the propositions for an international police-military force with the participation of Turkish forces, looking for a mechanism of observation for a solution, before this solution has been found.
“In effect, the systematic interventions of the USA, of Great Britain, France and the EU as a whole, in order for the talks to be sped up and for a deal to be struck, aim at closing up the deal quickly so that the road for the exploitation of the energy resources of the island opens in favor of the interests of sections of the capitalist classes of the implicated states and of the various euroatlantic plans.
“At the same time, they aim at utilizing the geostrategic position of Cyprus, where NATO and British military bases have been installed, in the competition with Russia, in conditions of sharpening of the already acute contradictions internationally.”
Simultaneously, D. Koutsoumbas highlighted the responsibilities of the bourgeois political forces for the dangerous developments, noting: “The responsibilities of the government of SYRIZA-ANEL, as well as of the ND and of the other parties that support the one-way of the euroNATOist “prison” for our country are immense.
“On the one hand you praise the participation of Greece and Turkey in NATO as a factor of “peace and security” and when the Turkish provocations become outrageous and when the air and sea borders of our country suffer multiple violations, then you “draw from the sleeve”, as a new “lifejacket”, the so-called “tripartite alliance” of our country with Israel, Cyprus, Egypt.
“You cultivate that way, in both circumstances, hollow hopes, either by sweet-talking Turkey, or by calling the “police” of the USA in Eastern Mediterranean, trying to convince that both in Greece and in Cyprus we will be able to use the energy resources for the so-called “development” and for exiting the crisis.
“You lie, you lie consciously! Because you know very well that these resources and the profits that will come of them will go directly into the pockets of the megatheriums of energy, the monopolies of this sector of economy.
“These deposits, in conditions of monopoly capitalism, of imperialism, attract as honey attracts bees, the powerful competitions, the imperialist wars.”
In the end, referring to the proposition of KKE, he underlined:
“That is why our position, the grounds upon KKE’s position is founded, is a great distance away of the positions that you serve, of the space that you open so that the plans foreign to the real interests of the cypriot people – Greekcypriots and Turkishcypriots – come to pass, plans foreign to the Greek people’s interests, which struggles in a tornado of cross purposes, and of the Turkish people that bleeds under an authoritarian regime and sheds its blood for the interests of the Turkish capitalist class.
KKE Sec. General D.Koutsoumbas during his
speech at the Parliament.
“We struggle for the unitary interests of the whole of the working people of Cyprus, not in favor of the energy monopolies, of the USA, of NATO, of the rest of your allies!
“We underline the necessity of coordinating the struggle of the working class and of the popular strata of Cyprus, of Turkey, of Greece, for the abolition of the consequences of the occupation in the perspective of total emancipation from the chains of exploitation.
“We stand in favor of the immediate retreat of the occupation forces and all the rest of the foreign military troops from Cyprus.
“Generally, we support the abolition of the consequences of the Turkish occupation, the end of colonization and dealing with this problem considering social, humanitarian criteria, we support the right of the refuges to return to their hearths and homes.
“We support the closing down of the NATO-British military bases and the abolition of the favorable status in effect since many years ago, we continue the struggle so that the military base of Suda in Crete and the rest of the US-NATO bases in Greece also close down.
“The KKE believes that the struggle of the working class, of the popular strata, must be aimed at the objective of a Cyprus where its people, Greekcypriots and Turkishcypriots, Armenians, Maronites and Latinos, will be real masters of their fates.
“A Cyprus United, Independent, with One and Only Sovereignty, one Citizenship and International Personality, without foreign bases and troops, without foreign guarantors and patrons.”
14.07.2017.
Israelis Launch Aggression Against Syria as Army Battles IDF-Paid ‘Rebels’
| June 24, 2017 | 7:23 pm | Israel, Middle East, political struggle, Syria | No comments

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Israelis-Launch-Aggression-Against-Syria-as-Army-Battles-IDF-Paid-Rebels-20170624-0020.html

Israelis Launch Aggression Against Syria as Army Battles IDF-Paid ‘Rebels’

  • The attack came as rebel factions, including known Islamist extremists, battled Syria Army forces Saturday in the Quneitra province bordering the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

    The attack came as rebel factions, including known Islamist extremists, battled Syria Army forces Saturday in the Quneitra province bordering the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. | Photo: AFP – Reuters

Syria accuses the Israeli military of hitting a residential building and supporting jihadists who admit to receiving direct financing from Israelis.

In the latest act of aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic, Israeli occupation forces have targeted Syrian military outposts after 10 shells landed in the illegally-occupied Golan Heights. However, military sources in Syria have accused the Israelis of killing civilians and attempting to prop up rebels who recently admitted that they were receiving direct financing from the settler-colonial Israeli state.

RELATED:
Iran says US is Helping Islamic State Group, and Claims to have Evidence

The attack came as rebel factions, including known Islamist extremists, battled Syria Army forces Saturday in the Quneitra province bordering the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, according to Syrian state media and a Western-backed war monitor.

The Israelis launched their attacks on positions held by what it calls the “Syrian regime” after 10 projectiles landed in the illegally-held Syrian region. According to the Israeli military, the alleged position from which the projectiles were fired came under attack, while two army tanks belonging to the Syrian army also were bombed.

Syria’s military described the shellfire into the Israeli-held territory as errant fire and called it an “unacceptable breach” of sovereignty. Stray fire from fighting between the forces of Syria’s legitimate government and rebel factions are not uncommon in the contested Golan Heights.

Syrian military sources also said Israeli rocket fire had hit a residential building, causing a number of deaths and damage. The source did not mention Syrian fire into Israel but did note that the Israeli strike was in support of jihadist rebels.

Israeli seized 500 square miles of the Golan from Syria during its colonialist military campaigns of 1967 and later annexed it. The move was never recognized by the international community, yet it unofficially backed by imperialist powers, first and foremost its financiers within the United States.

Groups like the Quneitra-based 400-strong Fursan al-Joulan, or the Knights of the Golan, recently admitted that they have been receiving payment from the Israeli occupiers, who hope to create a buffer of “friendly forces” between the occupation and the Syrian government, the Wall Street Journal reported this week. The group is not backed by other U.S.-led coalition or Arab countries.

“Israel stood by our side in a heroic way,” group spokesman Moatasem al-Golani told the Journal. “We wouldn’t have survived without Israel’s assistance.” The cooperation began when the Israelis began assisting Syrian fighters, including alleged “Islamist extremists,” through medical care at Israeli hospitals, in a relationship that soon led to direct funding for fighters for salaries, ammunition and weapons.

RELATED:
Hezbollah to Saudis: Flatter Trump All You Want, He Only Cares About Israel and Money

In January 2016, former Israeli military Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon noted his preference for the Islamic State group, telling an audience “if the choice is between Iran and the Islamic State (group), I choose the Islamic State.” The former military official Yaalon last month told reporters that the Islamic State group had also recently apologized to Israeli military forces after unintentionally attacking them along the Syrian border.

According to the Wall Street Journal report, under Yaalon’s tenure as defense minister in 2013, the Golan rebels began receiving direct monetary support.

Western-funded NGO the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the rebel groups of Quneitra had launched an assault and were storming army positions near Baath City.

The Israelis have launched several unprovoked acts of aggression against Syria throughout the conflict, including assassinations and assaults on targets such as alleged “weapons caches” belonging to Lebanese Hezbollah, who are fighting alongside the Syrian government at the latter’s invitation. The Syrian Arab Republic and the Israelis remain technically at war.

Sanders: ‘Occupation must end’ days before 50 year anniversary of 1967 war
By
June 3, 2017 20:18

US Senator Bernie Sanders delivered a video message Saturday to the left-wing Meretz party, which plans to hold a conference on Sunday to mark “50 years of occupation.”

Sanders, who has run as an Independent in Vermont before challenging former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination last year, addressed members of the party in a recorded speech.

Sanders began by describing Meretz as “Israel’s most prominent political organization,” adding that the party stands “for many of the same values that progressives are fighting for here in the United States and throughout the world.”

He also decried the rise of numerous political movements across the globe which he described as “racist, intolerant and authoritarian in nature.”

Repeating his popular message that propelled him in the Democratic primaries in 2016, Sanders spoke of income inequality and blamed the “corrupt and ineffective” political system that has failed millions over the world.

Sanders then called for an “international movement” that fights for equality, reminding viewers that “real change comes from below and not from on top.”

The speech’s substance then switched to the Mideast peace process, with Sanders saying it is still possible to “change the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

“We are now in the 50th year of Israel’s occupation, an occupation which denies basic Palestinian rights while failing to deliver Israel real security,” Sanders said.

He concluded that “equality, security, democracy and justice” are the values that should guide change and that Meretz shares these ideals.

Himself Jewish, Sanders spent some time on an Israeli kibbutz in his youth, and has rejected the tactics of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement.

However, he has also been highly critical of Israel’s military presence in the West Bank and its continued expansion of settlements.

The senator has been critical of the prime minister as well. In April of last year he said: “If we pursue justice and peace, we are going to have to say that [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu is not right all of the time.”

Sanders has also expressed concern about Israel’s approach to the 2014 Gaza war, commenting that Israel has the right to defend itself but has responded “disproportionately” to Palestinian attacks.

Meretz, established in 1992, is a secular party that pushes for a two-state solution to the conflict, social justice and human rights with a strong emphasis on environmental issues. The current head of the party is chairwoman Zehava Gal-On.

The Terrible Seeds of the Attack on the British Parliament

Flowers are laid at the scene after an attack on Westminster Bridge in London, Britain, March 22, 2017.

The Terrible Seeds of the Attack on the British Parliament

© REUTERS/ Hannah McKay

Columnists

Get short URL
Alexander Mercouris
Westminster Attack (48)
566841
https://sputniknews.com/columnists/201703251051935003-london-attack-terrible-seeds/

The attack on the British Parliament is a terrible tragedy and a hideous crime.

On March 23, Daesh terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the deadly Westminster attack in the British capital.

This fact should underscore a bitter truth that Western political establishments persist in resisting.  This is that it is impossible to fight terrorism effectively in Europe if it is supported — however discretely — in the Middle East.

The origins of today’s Jihadist movement go back to the 1980s when Western governments, including the British government, actively supported the Jihadist war against the Soviet backed in Afghanistan.  This war radicalised a whole generation of young Muslims in Europe and the Middle East, with the active support of Western governments.  I well remember the articles and documentaries supporting the Jihadist struggle in Afghanistan which proliferated in the Western media at this time, which included turning a blind eye to Jihadi atrocities in Afghanistan and to the role Jihadi groups were playing in heroin trafficking, which caused an explosion in heroin addiction in the West (especially in Britain) at that time.

More pertinently, this support for the Jihadi movement in Afghanistan led to the British authorities turning a blind eye to the establishment of a Jihadist network in mosques and community centres across Britain.  There were rumours at the time — never fully confirmed or denied — that an implicit agreement had been reached between the British authorities and Jihadi leaders that the British authorities would tolerate their activities in Britain provided they undertook no violent action on British soil.To add to the toxic brew, it was also roughly at this time that a wave of funding from the Gulf region transformed the teaching of Islam in British mosques and Muslim community centres, changing Wahhabist/Salafi doctrines from a marginal influence within Britain Islam increasingly into its mainstream.

The British authorities have struggled to get on top of these Wahhabist/Salafist Jihadist networks that were established in Britain in the 1980s ever since.

In recent years the British authorities have made their problems worse by embracing the Jihadist struggle against President Assad’s government in Syria.  Instead of recognising President Assad and his government for what they are — a bulwark against the spread of Jihadi terrorism in the Middle East and elsewhere — the British authorities have been relentless in demanding President Assad’s overthrow, so that just as in the 1980s they supported the Jihadist struggle against the government of Afghanistan, so today they have been de facto supporting the Jihadist struggle against the Syrian government.

Needless to say this has given fresh life to the Jihadist networks which have become established in Britain, further radicalising a section of British Muslim youth, and legitimising Jihadism amongst them.

The result is that there has been a regular trickle of British Muslim volunteers joining the Jihadi struggle in Syria, where they have learnt to bear arms and become further indoctrinated in Jihadist ways of thinking.  To the British government’s embarrassment some of them have become so radicalised that they have become suicide bombers.

To compound the folly of all this, at the same time that the British government has been de facto supporting the Jihadists’ struggle in Syria, it has also been acting in a way that can be made to fit in with the Jihadists’ narrative of a Western/Christian plot against Islam.

In 2001 and 2003 Britain participated in the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, Britain has become an increasingly uncritical supporter of Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories, and more recently Britain has joined the US’s anti-Daesh coalition in Iraq and Syria, even if its actual military contribution to the anti-Daesh struggle has been minimal and ineffective.The result unsurprisingly is that Britain, along with other Western countries, now finds itself home to an indeterminate number of angry, violent and deluded people, who it simultaneously supports and fights against.

That this is a recipe for disaster should hardly require explanation.  Tragically that disaster has now  happened.

If Jihadi terrorism is to be defeated — something by the way which is fully possible — then the point has to be grasped both in Britain and the West in general that terrorism is not terrorism only if it happens in London or Paris or Brussels or Nice.  It is also terrorism if it happens in Aleppo or Mosul or Grozny or Damascus.  Jihadi terrorism has to be fought everywhere it happens, not simultaneously opposed and supported in order to achieve some nebulous geopolitical objectives of no interest to the Western public.

Unfortunately we seem in Britain to be as far away from that realisation as ever, and until it finally comes there can be no confidence that the tragedy in London will be the last one.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

On Contact: Israel’s Secret Weapons with Rania Khalek