Germans hold anti-war protest near US base

Sun Sep 10, 2017 8:11AM
This video grab shows two demonstrators holding a placard during a protest against warmongering, in Ramstein-Miesenbach municipality, Germany, on September 9, 2017.
This video grab shows two demonstrators holding a placard during a protest against warmongering, in Ramstein-Miesenbach municipality, Germany, on September 9, 2017.

People in Germany have staged an annual anti-war protest rally in front of a United States air base in their country, condemning war-mongering.

Demonstrators on Saturday formed a human chain in the Ramstein-Miesenbach municipality stretching to outside Gate 5 of the American air base there.

The organizers of Stop Air Base Ramstein said as many as 5,000 protesters attended the rally.

They demanded an end to the use of the air base to relay telemetry to drones that collect information on militant groups or attack designated targets. The protesters said the attacks on suspected militants were “extrajudicial killings” and violated international law.

The human chain wrapped up a week of protests in the area.

The protesters who rallied on Saturday were joined by left-wing politician Oskar Lafontaine, the former head of Germany’s Left Party. He denounced German involvement in conflicts, role in the Iraq War, and the expansion of nuclear armaments.

“So long as we live in a system which requires military equipment and warmongering, the economic order on which capitalism is reliant, the world will edge closer to destruction,” Lafontaine told the protesters. “Nuclear weapons are not weapons. They are monsters and we need to chase them away from this planet.”

The Ramstein Air Base is host to 22,000 US military and Department of Defense personnel. Family members included, the number reaches 54,000. It is the largest concentration of US citizens outside of the US.

Ramstein Air Base is also the headquarters of NATO’s Air and Space program (AIRCOM).

The file photo shows the logo at the entrance of the US Ramstein Air Base in southwestern Germany.

The satellite relay stations at Ramstein transmit radio signals to and from drone pilots operating at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, USA, and satellites positioned above the Indian Ocean, thus allowing them to strike targets in Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia by way of drones, according to whistle-blower former US drone operator Brandon Bryant.

Germans have for decades been holding annual marches, calling for the shutdown of the US base, which was constructed by Western allied forces after World War II and is said to be storing nuclear missiles and chemical weapons.

Israel: Why Russia may not respond to the alleged Israeli airstrike in Syria

Moscow may well turn a blind eye to attack on Assad’s chemical weapons depot; the Syrians and Iranians might want to pause too

[Editor’s note:  This is Israel’s rationale for their recent bombing attack on Syria.  We just print the news, we don’t fabricate it. G]

How will Moscow respond to the alleged Israeli attack Thursday on a facility in northwestern Syria where the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad is said to have stockpiled chemical weapons and missiles?

Analysts have contemplated various possible Russian responses to the attack on the Masyaf base, near Hama, which took place early Thursday morning. Many have suggested that Russia cannot ignore the attack, which occurred some 70 kilometers (40 miles) from its Khmeimim Air Force Base in Syria.

Nonetheless, Russia appears to have good reason to turn a blind eye to this attack, as it has done in the past.

The Russians are certainly interested in retaining their control over Assad and ensuring his victory over the opposition forces, both religious and secular. For this reason, the Russians have even overlooked his chemical attacks on civilians.

An unconscious Syrian child is carried at a hospital in Khan Sheikhoun, a rebel-held town in the northwestern Syrian Idlib province, following a suspected toxic gas attack on April 4, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / Omar haj kadour)

It is also important for Russia to demonstrate its superiority in the region. The attacks attributed to Israel so near their own position pose a definite challenge to their control.

However, the Russians also understand that bringing non-conventional weapons to the region, or any weapons which Israel considers to be a game-changer, could have the opposite result than that which they seek in Syria.

Instead of stability, they could see an escalation, with Israel confronting the Syrians and Iranians, and further destabilizing elements entering the region.

Another possible explanation for why Russia would possibly prefer to ignore Israeli attacks was Wednesday’s United Nations report.

UN war crimes investigators said they had evidence that Assad’s government forces were behind a chemical attack that killed dozens of people in Khan Sheikhoun in April and had perpetrated seven such attacks between last March and the end of July.

These attacks occurred despite the regime’s September 2013 commitment to Moscow to destroy all stockpiles of chemical weapons, as part of a wider agreement with the US and the international community.

It is possible that the Syrians, by using chemical weapons, tricked not only the rest of the world but also the Russians.

Though Israel has not confirmed its role in Thursday’s attack, the strike has nevertheless been widely attributed to the Jewish state, with the understanding among analysts that the Syrian weapons facility was being used to violate the red lines Israel has set.

Different than previous attacks

Israel has attacked dozens of targets across Syria in previous years. In August, a former commander of Israel’s air force said that it had carried out dozens of airstrikes on weapons convoys destined for Hezbollah over the past five years. The remarks by Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel revealed for the first time the scale of the strikes, which are usually neither confirmed nor denied by the IAF.

However, Thursday’s attack was different.

This time, the target was considered more valuable and the operation was more dangerous.

First, the location: Hama, north of Damascus, is deep inside Syria, and not far from Russian military positions.

Second, the timing: As the Syrian civil war winds down, it becomes impossible for Israel to try to lay blame for such attacks on opposition groups. Additionally the attack came a day after the tenth anniversary of the (apparent) Israeli attack which destroyed Syria’s Korean-built Dir a-Zur nuclear reactor.

Before and after satellite images of the Syrian nuclear reactor at al-Kibar, which was reportedly struck by Israel in 2007 (AP/DigitalGlobe)

Before and after satellite images of the Syrian nuclear reactor at al-Kibar, which was reportedly struck by Israel in 2007 (AP/DigitalGlobe)

Third, the target: This was a facility of Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Center (CERS), which is a cover for the manufacture of secret weapons, both chemical and non-chemical, as well as rockets and missiles.

An attack on this type of facility, at this time and place, if committed by Israel, sends a clear message to Iran and of course to the Syrian regime: When Israel’s red lines — such as the building of precision rockets, or Iranian facilities like an air base or port — are crossed, it will take action.

This attack may not cause the Russians to rush to end Iranian efforts at expansion in Syria. However, it might just cause Tehran to reconsider its ambitious plans.

If not, this could all end in bloody confrontation between Israel, Syria and Assad’s ally Iran.

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